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The day of diagnosis: March 30,2012

March 12, 2013

The day of diagnosis

I am not one hundred percent certain, but I am willing to bet that every cancer patient can remember the day they were diagnosed as if it was today. Certain events are etched into our minds whether we want to remember them or not. The day of diagnosis is one of those days I will never forget.

I will walk you through the beginning of this journey. There were years of questions leading up to this moment: stomach aches, back pain, exhaustion…many symptoms that doctors always attributed to something else: allergies, gluten, lactose intolerance, hemorrhoids , hypothyroidism….years of trying to figure out what was happening and never knowing. All that time, I continued to live life, travel, teach, practice yoga, surf, snowboard….never knowing what was truly happening inside of me. Then last March,I felt it-I knew there was something seriously wrong. I mentioned it to my doctor, she ran some tests, and told me” there may be something, but there may not be so don’t worry about it. “really? it may be something, it may not be? don’t worry about it? ummmm I think i will get a second opinion.”so i did -I trusted my gut (which is kind of ironic in this situation) and pushed to have a colonoscopy done. That was the moment that kick started this year’s turn of events.

I remember going to the hospital in Rome for my colonoscopy. I woke up in the morning, convincing myself it was another normal day in Rome. I dropped off my moto for the 100th time at the mechanic, and then headed to the hospital. After waiting hours for the procedure(remember, I was in Italy) the doctors rattled off a ton of information in Italian, and the next thing I remember is waking up and it being over. This was a Tuesday. I was planning on leaving for the Seychelles Saturday morning and my bags were packed. Two weeks in paradise. I couldn’t wait. when i came home from the hospital i looked at my packed bags and i had a moment where i thought ” i may not make it there saturday. ”
My doctor(my new fabulous doctor, since the first one is definitely on my shit list) called Tuesday night and said we would get the results Friday but “you are young, healthy… this is probably nothing.” I sooo wanted to believe him-yet I knew in my bones that there was something wrong. In my mind, the word cancer began swirling around in all my thoughts. No matter how hard I tried, it kept creeping back up.
So here comes Friday, and the phone call. “Can you come in after work? I need to see you.” Well, it’s not hard to figure out that if a doctor wants you to come in, it is definitely bad news. No one holds out to tell you good news, but bad news-that is usually a face to face kind of conversation.
So….I left work and went home. I took a shower, put on make-up, a cute outfit (a really cute outfit) and then walked to the doctor’s office. In my mind I thought, if I look this cute, there is noooo way I can possibly have cancer.” I opened the door to his office, looked into his eyes, and I knew. Before he said one word, I knew. There is a look people give you when you have cancer, or when they are about to tell you bad news. I have seen that look before in my life, and was reminded what the look was in that one moment- since last March, i have seen that look more times than i care to admit. As the doctor held my hand, he spoke the words you never want to hear. It is almost funny, the first time I heard the words”you have cancer” they were in Italian, and there was no need for translation. After those words, everything fell silent. It reminded me of how I feel when i am dreaming (yes, i remember all my dreams) you know you are there, having an experience of some sort, yet it is all surreal and slow-moving. As I looked around the office, everything was the same as it was one minute ago….yet in that instant everything looked and felt completely different. Much of what he said after those three words is blurry, yet one thing he said got through. “Go home. You are from New York. You need to go home, you will get the best care in the world there. When my son had cancer, I brought him to New York.”
I left his office and walked home. The whole walk home I could only think about one thing- how impossible it was going to be to say those words to my family. how do you tell your family, who are thousands of miles away from you that you have cancer? I remember the silence on the other end of the line-the moment of shock as the news sank in….that moment is one i will always remember. In that silence, I could hear my parents hearts breaking.
So….here comes Saturday. Instead of leaving for the Seychelles, I began packing to go home. I flew home Sunday, and was admitted into the hospital Monday morning. When I left Rome, I had no idea what was in store for me. The doctor in Rome told me I had a tumor and said most likely they would surgically remove it, i would recover quickly and be able to come back to Rome within a month. Wishful thinking. Little did he know how the next month would unfold…
to be continued.

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