by Judy Whelley
After my dermatology appointment, I was to meet the friend who gave me the advice about being open to signs. I was pretty rattled, phoned her and blurted, “I have breast cancer!” We began a Keystone Cops routine, trying to find first a bar and then one another, ending up in the parking lots of bars on opposite sides of the street. She drove over, picked me up and took me to the bar across the street. Why we didn’t just go into the bar where I was I didn’t know. After a good cry, where she just looked into my eyes and listened with complete acceptance, we went in. It was after five on a Friday, too late to get other medical advice.
The bar was full of people celebrating the workweek’s end. I had a beer and a bowl of soup and tried to get some perspective. I faced the door and could see folks as they entered. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realized that the person who had just walked in was my gynecologist. I walked over to her to be sure it really was her, and it WAS. I shared my diagnosis; she said while she had never treated a case of Paget’s Disease, she knew that the prognosis was good. I think this definitely qualified as a sign. For her to show up at that bar, at that moment, was a gift. Now I knew why we did not go into the bar across the street, I needed to be here.
On the drive home, I panicked. I called another friend and spilled the news. She pulled up Paget’s Disease on the Internet and began to read to me, confirming what my dermatologist said: it is rare, treatment is surgery, it can be DCIS (ductal cancer in situ) or invasive cancer, it is usually confined to one breast, one surgery involves removing the nipple and aureola, another is a modified radical mastectomy, sentinel nodes are removed to check the lymph nodes, sometimes follow up radiation, no mention of chemotherapy. The information from WebMD and the Mayo Clinic was almost identical.
When I told her I would have to go to the state capital, to the medical center there, she immediately volunteered to accompany me. I accepted, with gratitude; I was in the midst of an ugly divorce so I had no spouse to hold my hand and I had just lost my mother to cancer so the very word struck fear in my heart. It was such a relief to know I would not have to go alone. This was the final sign, letting me know that all was unfolding as it should. When I need to just cry and be heard, that will happen. When I need a doctor, the right one will appear. When I need someone to help me with travel and doctors a friend will be available. The signs are all there.
Judy Whelley is a writer living in Dayton, Ohio. You can blog with her at www.sensuouslysixty.blogspot.com.