Remembering Diagnosis

I'm interrupting my little series of Breast Cancer and Body Image to remember twenty-two years ago today, April 20, 2012.

On April 20, 1990, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a sunny, beautiful day, much like today. Apple trees bloomed in sweet profusion. Lilacs budded. Forsythia brightened the world.

In Fine Black Lines, I describe it this way:

On the way to the hospital that morning, I said to Les, "But what if the biopsy isn't okay? I'll still be unconscious when the doctor comes to talk to you and I really don't want the kids to know before I do."

"Oh, don't be silly. You're fine."

"But just suppose?"

"I'll think of something," Les replied. "Don't even talk about it."

We were home by four that afternoon. Still groggy from the anesthesia, I mindlessly surfed TV channels.

"What did the doctor say?" I finally asked, gut clutched, eyes averted.j

"Do you really want to know?"

No, I don't want to know. I don't ever want to know what the doctor said. I allready know what the doctor said.

And a year later, I wrote:

One Year Ago Today
I am adjusted–
I am not reconciled

Fellow travelers
say I will be someday–

But I notice they never forget
the date of diagnosis

(prose and poem above excepted from Fine Black Lines, copyright 1993, 2003 by Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

Do you remember your date of diagnosis? How did you react to the news?

Comments

Jan Baird Hasak 22-04-2012, 04:35

Lois, congratulations on your 22nd anniversary!! What a milestone. Love what you shared in your writing, especially “I am not reconciled.” I don’t remember the exact date of my diagnoses (yes, there were two, one in 1996 and one in 2003), but I do remember the months. The shock of the diagnosis was much greater the first time than the second time. I had no family history and few risk factors. But time has a way of healing, of erasing the bad memories, replacing them with sweet memories and better days. Thanks for sharing with us your prose and poetry excerpts. Superb! xx

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hjelmstd 11-05-2012, 16:58

You are so gracious.

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Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) 22-04-2012, 15:29

22 years – that gives hope to so many of us Lois..and is worth celebrating! I also welcome any chance to read your poetry too!

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Katherine Johnston 24-04-2012, 16:23

I’ve started a comment 3 or 4 times now and realize I just can’t find the right words! Date of diagnosis, a little fuzzy. Shock, yes! Like the first commenter, I had no family history or risk factors, but cancer is no respector of persons, is it? Mine was non-Hodgekins lymphoma, complete with 2-inch tumor behind my sternum, so they had to carve me up slightly to get a good biopsy…nothing like what you experienced, however. Looking back (and I’m only 2 years out post-chemo), the whole process was very much a growth experience (no pun intended). I learned to trust God more and value each day and each relationship more, and to live more freely. For that I am truly thankful. Congratulations on 22 years!!

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hjelmstd 11-05-2012, 16:57

Those twenty-three years were bonus years. I have treasured every one of them and grieved that many women I knew and loved were not as fortunate.

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