I woke up on February 8, 2016 in peace. I slept at my parent’s house since my boyfriend was still out of town and started my work day. I went on my sales meeting and told my co-workers the good news. I told them it was all nothing like they suspected and that I did not have cancer. I was so relieved saying those words. I felt peace.
My meeting ended and my mom and I were putting our coats on to go grab lunch. It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. My phone rang, it said “unknown.” I don’t normally answer unknown numbers but this time I did. I heard my doctor’s shaky voice on the other end as I said hello. “Hi Janine, it’s doctor E…I am so sorry but something didn’t sit right with one of the pathologist and he went back to your slides and cut deeper and well I am so sorry to say this, but there’s been a mistake, it’s cancer.”
White, everything went white. I looked at my mom and she started to scream,”WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” she must have seen it in my face. I couldn’t get the words out, I tried, I stuttered, it’s cancer, it’s cancer.
My doctor was still on the line talking and I dropped to my knees, I was hyperventilating/crying. It’s like when you are dreaming and you are being chased and you try to scream, except barely anything is coming out of your mouth even though you are trying with all your might to scream. I tried to get out “It’s cancer? Am I going to die? What Stage? Will I need Chemo? Will I die?” She had no answers.
She told me to get out a pen and write this down…
I scribbled some words she told me.. Ductal Carcinoma, Surgical Oncologist, and CALL IMMEDIATELY.
I remember her saying that they were waiting for my call. She gave me her number if I needed anything and I hung up the phone.
I dropped back to my knees on my parents bedroom floor. I lost control of every muscle in my body. I couldn’t breathe. I was screaming for my mom to call 911. I wanted to be sedated. I didn’t know how I would get through the next 30 seconds of my life without being sedated. I laid there in fetal position and cried, and cried, and cried. I felt like I was on a roller coaster going upside down and backwards and I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t see straight. I couldn’t pull myself together.
I heard my mom in the distance making frantic phone calls. I heard her whispering over and over. “it’s cancer, they made a mistake. I don’t know, they made a mistake but it’s cancer.” I heard this over and over again. My tears stopped, I couldn’t move. I was stunned. I felt paralyzed.
My little dog came over to me and looked so perplexed. He always panicked when I cried and he just seemed so concerned. I sat up, picked him up, and caught my breath. My boyfriend. I needed to call my boyfriend. Or do I wait? He had a flight late that night to come home. Do I just wait to tell him? I don’t want to ruin the last day of his trip. How am I supposed to wait to tell him this? He will be mad if he knew that I waited until he got home to tell him. FUCK. I call. I ask him to sit down, my voice is trembling and I can’t get the words out. This is surreal. I can’t get the words out. “Eh, so you know how they said it was benign? Well it’s not, they made a mistake, I have cancer.” I hear myself saying those words out loud. It doesn’t sound right. I have cancer, I have cancer, holy shit, I have cancer. He says he will be on the next flight home but I tell him to stay, he will be home soon enough tonight and I would be fine. He told me he loved me and that everything was going to be ok. He seemed lost, scared, and I think that in that moment, the both of us knew that this was going to change everything.
I hear my sister frantically coming in my parents house. I hear my nieces. I felt relieved but scared. I didn’t want to cry in front of them. Then I hear my Dad walk in the door, I knew my mom called him but he was coming from NYC, a solid 50 minutes away and it seems like that was only 30 minutes ago. I then hear my brother and my sister in law. I came out of their room and walked into the kitchen. They were all gathered around the kitchen counter whispering. I sat down and my Dad disappeared and a minute later came up with a very expensive bottle of wine. Opus One. He said he promised everything was going to be ok, but now, we drink.