THE DAY I FOUND OUT THAT I HAD CANCER
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it's got me thinking back to the day that I found out that I had cancer.
To the day that I went from being regular ole Alison, to being cancer fighting Alison. To the day that I went from being blissfully unaware, to startlingly aware. To the day that I went from not really knowing anything about cancer, to wanting (and needing) to know everything about cancer.
This pic here is of the bottle of wine that I drank on my walk home after finding out that I had breast cancer on July 30, 2018, and of all the pamphlets that the Nurse Practitioner sent me home with.
I left Princess Margaret Cancer Centre that day in a haze - to say the least.
I don’t really remember even leaving the exam room, or taking the elevator down to the main floor, or walking down the hallway and out onto University Ave.
I do remember stepping down onto the sidewalk though - almost as if it were yesterday.
I remember feeling both light and heavy at the same time. It was like my feet weren’t even touching the ground, but my arms were so heavy that they hung like a bag of boulders. And I remember feeling as if I was walking like a robot. Like my limbs weren't bending.
I also remember trying to look at every single woman that walked passed me. Looking at their breasts. And wondering if they were going through what I was about to go through. Or, worse yet, if they were on there way to get the same news I’d just gotten.
It was such a surreal feeling. To be present, but completely spaced out as well.
It was a hot day. Like hot as balls! And as much as I wanted to get out of the heat, I just didn't have it in me to get onto the streetcar or to call an uber. Instead I decided I was going to walk (9.1 km) home.
But first, I needed booze!
So I made a slight detour, and stopped by a Wine Rack to grab a bottle of wine. And without even giving a fuck, I proceeded to pour that bottle of wine into my water bottle. Right there, in the store. I even handed the empty bottle over to the poor stunned store clerk - and then proceeded to take it back, because I'm weird and keep things like that as mementos.
cool fact - large water bottles hold an entire bottle of wine!!
And from there I walked ... and drank.
I felt like I was melting in the heat, but I still couldn't deal with transportation, and I think the walking (and drinking) helped me to process.
By the time I got home I was soaked, and I was pretty sauced up as well. I sat down on the couch and took one look at all of the pamphlets, and thought fuck this, I'm going to bed. And I did! I went to bed. I didn't shower. I didn't read any of those information filled papers. I just went to bed. Ok, maybe a I passed out, but tomato/tomato right?!?
And I woke up the next morning, surprised at how "ok" I felt.
Not only did I not have a hangover, but I wasn't freaking out the way I though I would (should?) be.
I was in "research and educate" mode. TUNNEL VISION! There really wasn't much emotion at all. I just needed to figure everything out as best I could. I needed to maintain whatever control that I could, in a very out of control situation.
And that worked - for me at least. I'm sure my friends and family wanted to be there for me more than I was letting them be ... but this wasn't about them. So if what I was doing was keeping me in a reasonably sane headspace (most of the time - I think), then that's all that really mattered.
As far as the pamphlets (in the photo) go - as I've discussed before, I had a few diagnosis’ before starting treatment. The first one was stage2 IDC, and I was told that would require a lumpectomy and radiation (hence the “Your Guide To Having Breast Cancer Surgery” pamphlet). From there, and over the span of the next four weeks, it seemed like every time I walked into that bloody hospital they were delivering more bad news. At the end of that four week phase, which consisted of endless tests and scans, I found out that I had stage4 metastatic breast cancer, and that surgery was off the table, and six months of chemo was taking it's place.
And that's how my cancer "journey" began! Drunk, and keeping everyone at arms length!