The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. Somewhere around my second glass of wine my fight mode kicked in and I had a surge of adrenaline. I told myself and my family that I was not going to let this take me down and I was going to do everything humanly possible to get through. I told them that I was going to explore every available option and I was going to need their support. I knew that time was of the essence and I did not want to waste a second of it. I called the Surgical Oncologist and set up my appointment for 2 days from then. I called my holistic doctor and tried to get answers from a different frame of mind. I called friends that had someone they knew go through this before to get some more perspective. I had questions, so many questions. I was scared and I needed answers. I did research, I was in full fight, adrenaline pumping, mania and I feared that I could not stop. Calls, so many calls. Then I remembered one friend telling me about this super alternative doctor. Well he wasn’t actually a doctor per-say, he was a scientist but he had made claims of curing cancer. I needed him, maybe this nightmare could end if I talked to him. I was desperate. I called him up and was weary but scheduled an appointment for the next day. He gave me hope and maybe at the time, hope is exactly what I needed.
I was back on my phone, doing research, reading message boards, and completely freaking myself out when my phone rang. It was my gynecologist. My stomach dropped. I couldn’t help but feel animosity towards her. How didn’t she catch this? She indirectly did but she didn’t catch this actual cancerous mass. I was half mad half grateful towards her. I was mad that she didn’t find the problematic lump, but grateful that for whatever reason, she sent me for that mammogram. I was in hysterics. She said she received my results and she was terribly sorry but so happy that we caught this. I thought to myself, no you didn’t catch this. How did this even happen? She told me that I was lucky and in a few months from now, we would be dealing with something much more advanced. Huh? How much time would have made a difference? She said, I don’t know, 3-4 months? I couldn’t speak, I didn’t know how to respond. A flash came through my head. I thought about my birthday 4 months from then. I thought about turning 31 and not knowing I was dying. I thought about my upcoming trip to Italy that summer, a trip that I counted the days down until. A trip that gets me through most shitty days. A trip that we took the year before that changed me in so many ways. I thought about being there again, with my family and my boyfriend, creating new memories, making more self discoveries, and having the time of my life, and not knowing that I was dying. I thought “would I even have made it to that trip?” I had no answers. I needed answers. I always need answers.
A friend of mine gave me this girls number who had gone through this. She told me that she was diagnosed two months after her wedding, at 27 years old, stage 4, and she is here four years later doing well. It gave me hope. I texted her and she immediately told me to call her. I sat there with my pen and paper, with her on speaker phone and my mom sitting next to me. I was ready to write down EVERYTHING that she said. She gave me hope, she gave me so much hope and she made me feel less anxious. She was living with breast cancer, but she was living. We made plans to meet in two days and I knew from that moment, she was going to be such an important part of my journey. She was going to be my sanity.
Somewhere in the midst of pure chaos, I remembered my boyfriend was due to come home that night. I couldn’t fathom going back to our house. I was traumatized and didn’t want to leave my parents. I needed to be with my family but I needed him there too. After all, he was a major part of our family. He was my family. My brother offered to go pick him up and bring him back to their house. He would have done anything for him and truth be told, I think he couldn’t wait to have him there. He wanted him there as much as I did, he wanted him there for me, he knew that I needed him and I think he needed him too.
I waited in that airport terminal for what felt like hours, I frantically checked the flight status and stood by the escalator waiting for him to come down. I didn’t know what would happen when I saw him, but I knew that I needed to have his arms around me more than anything in the world at that moment. He came down and I ran into his arms and cried, I cried so hard. The adrenaline had left and I was left with so many terrified tears. He held me and told me that everything was going to be ok, and in that moment, it took my fears away. In that moment I felt peace.