When I Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer in the Starbucks Drive-Thru
I’ll have a grande caramel macchiato and an appointment with an oncologist, please.
I was in the Starbucks drive-thru when I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma — breast cancer, my invitation to a life of pink ribbons and Tamoxifen. I never once asked why me? I asked why this? I was so arrogant to think that I would never have breast cancer. Sure, some sort of chronic illness to add to the list of others, but not this.
The hardest part of having breast cancer was waiting. Every minute waiting for appointments, procedures, biopsy results, surgery, genetic testing, my Oncotype DX score and a treatment plan felt like an eternity. Everything moved so quickly, but felt like it was in slow motion. From the time of my screening mammogram to when the lump was removed, one month passed. I felt every single second in that month and so did my husband. The week it took to get the biopsy results back was the hardest — do I have cancer? Maybe I don’t. Maybe it’s a bit of harmless boob garbage. Maybe I’ll die. Maybe I won’t. Don’t worry. Maybe I should worry more. Nothing will change. Everything will change. That week made me dizzy.
I got the call Friday afternoon going into a holiday weekend. After the lumpectomy, there was more waiting — is the cancer in my lymph nodes? It wasn’t. Do I need chemo? I didn’t. Is it in my genes? It’s not. Radiation and medication.
Two years later, I wait for mammogram results in the mail just like everyone else. Although my risk of re-occurrence is low, I will always wonder if cancer will become an unwanted visitor again. My biggest fear is that it will visit my two daughters. Even though there isn’t a history of breast cancer in my family (until now, of course), it found me. It finds one in eight women.
I’ve been squished, poked, sliced, tattooed, drawn on, photographed, radiated and burned. And I am thankful because it was all done to save my life. I don’t say I’m a breast cancer survivor. I’m a survivor, period. It started the moment I was born almost three months early and had to fight for my life. I survived childhood trauma and struggles with depression and anxiety — everything I’ve stood up to gave me the strength to survive breast cancer.
Every time I go through the Starbucks drive-through, I think about how thankful I am that I’m here to tell the tale. I’ve stopped getting caramel macchiatos, just in case.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
Getty image via ImpaKPro.