I've left the breast clinic and I'm sitting in my car sobbing like an idiot. I remember looking up and seeing a woman walk by and stare in at me. Yeah, ok, I realized then it was time to pull myself together because I still had to drive home. Seemed silly to sit there crying hysterically about dying from cancer only to drive off a cliff while trying to get home. (If there are cliffs in Kansas City... I've not seen any, but I've been pretty wrapped up in myself lately. I promise to check on that and get back to you.)
I'm trying desperately to pull it together while I drive home, but by that time I had a throbbing headache and was shaking like a leaf. I'm not sure how long I was at the breast clinic, but it was many hours and I probably needed food. And there she sat! McDonald's! Yes! As I drove through the drive thru, I could smell the food and it made me want to throw up. I ended up ordering one of those ice coffees they have there. Hazelnut. Tasty. Crap! Both cup holders were full! Son of a ... my phone started ringing! And there I was sitting in my car in the McDonald's drive thru, trembling, nowhere to put my coffee, unable to answer my cell phone (AND WHY THE HECK DID I PICK THAT SONG FOR THE RING TONE?) Oh great, now snot is coming out of my nose! All the while some punk McDonald employee is staring at me. And I cry harder.
I'm not sure how, but I managed to make it home. It was Christmas vacation and Tom had been watching the kids while I was gone. Of course all the kids in the neighborhood had to be at my house when I pull up. Sledding and snowman building got put on hold when the crazy woman pulls up in the driveway. Jacob came running up to me, but I had to just shoo him away from me because I was unable to speak. Unbeknownst to me, Jacob ran off crying and told my neighbor that his mommy was dying of cancer. She made me pumpkin bread (which is what you do when someone is dying.)
I made it into the house dragging behind me my purse, phone, coat, and stupid freakin coffee. Tom looked up from the computer and asked me EXACTLY what the doctor had said. I had to think. He said he found a 7 cm mass on my left breast and he thought it was cancer. Yep, that's what he said. I explained that I was extremely upset and went running out of the building, so I didn't know what I was supposed to do next. I could tell he was trying to be compassionate, yet wanting to shake me for more information. Meanwhile...the phone would not stopped ringing. Right at this minute, I can't remember if my dad was with my grandparents or if he was in Texas at the time. I know he wasn't in Florida. And I know he wasn't with me.
I'm not sure who all called that day, but I refused to talk to anyone. Poor Tom had to answer each call and relay to them the small amount of information he had been given by me. He finally got so tired of it all that he told me to get him the name of the breast clinic and the name of the radiologist that saw me. Seriously, Tom? I could barely order coffee from McDonald's. Do you know what you are asking me? Somehow, someway, he found out where I had been and was able to call them.
It went a little somthing like this: "Uh, yeah, my wife is Sheri Strickland, I believe she was just there and went running out very upset. She wasn't sure if there was more she was supposed to do or schedule. She's still very upset. So upset, in fact, I'm unable to get any real information out of her. She can't remember the name of the radiologist, but said he was a short guy with a British accent."
"Hey, Sheri, does Dr. McDonald sound right?"
"I have coffee from McDonald's."
Back to the receptionist: "yeah, that sounds like it's probably who it was. You think I could leave him a message or something? He's available? Sure, I'll talk to him!"
"Sheri, he's putting him on the phone. You want to talk to him?"
"He said I have cancer." Hysterical crying continues.
It was a very long conversation, and I will admit, I was curious when Tom got off the phone. Curious and a little, tiny, ity, bit afraid. Of Tom. Something told me the information I had gathered was a bit off. It was. It seemed that Dr McDonald remembered me well. He remembered that it took several tries to even find the spot on my sonogram. That's how small it was. He said it wasn't 7 cm, but 7 mm. I do not have a ruler handy, but I hear there is quite the difference between those two numbers.
The good doctor informed Tom that he told me in ever way possible that he did not believe it was cancer. He said he explained to me that there were a million different possibilities and on the bottom of that list was cancer. But his best guess? It's not cancer. Noooope. He said the only reason he recommended me even getting it checked out was because I was a mother of two little children. If I had been a 70 year old woman, he wouldn't have even bothered mentioning it. He explained that I should enjoy the holidays and sometime after that I might want to think about having it biopsied. More than 90 percent chance it was nothing. Take it easy, relax, enjoy the holidays. It's nothing.
Now I had to call all those people back to explain that I overreacted. Turns out, I tell them, it's probably nothing.
Continued on Part III