Home / Five Minutes Ago… My Life Changed Forever

Five Minutes Ago… My Life Changed Forever

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Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI feel like I cannot breathe. I swear an elephant is standing upon my chest or at the very least 300 pounds of something is crushing me. I need to sit down as I listen to my doctor speaking through the phone. The words falling from his mouth are unfathomable.

“Cancer… More tests… Surgery… You have help, right?”

This just can’t be real. It can’t be. I hear the words but I’d swear he is describing someone else, certainly not me. I’ve always been healthy. I’m a gym rat, for gods sake; this shouldn’t be happening to me.

“You have help, right?”

I hear that sentence for the second time and that’s when the heaviness starts. I needed to sit down because I felt like either the world was momentarily on my shoulders or else my legs were suddenly too weak to support me. The sinking feeling in my stomach and the labored breaths have precious little to do with me. I’ll white-knuckle it and get through whatever I need to, just as I always have.

Appointments are being made in my ear and as I watch my right hand pushing the purple ink pen that is writing everything down, my eyes keep darting towards the next room. Pass through that doorway and you’ll find my three small children. A bunch of little girls glitzed out in Disney Princess costumes having a tea party. My house is very rarely quiet and my kids are often found in a tangled mess on the floor fighting over everything and, when that gets old, they then fight over nothing. At this particular moment they are barely making a sound. The quiet only adds to my disbelief.

Somehow, I got myself up out of the chair and walked into the next room. There sat the princesses with big smiles on their faces. A bit of sun was peeking in through the side window. The comfortable furniture looked as welcoming as ever. My eyes skimmed the walls, stopping to look at each and every framed photo. Mostly sepia and black and white family shots surround the room. Each one taken by me, each with its own bit of history that I so vividly recall. This room is part of my comfort zone and as I looked everything was the same but it all felt different. I felt different.

A few words spoken had changed me already. I was numb from the shock but I knew once that shock wore off I’d hardly recognize myself. Five minutes earlier, I was a healthy 35 year old journalist that juggled all of the typical household responsibilities. A mere five minutes ago, I was a tired mom of three kids under the age of six. Five minutes ago, it would have never once crossed my mind that this time next year… I may not be here.

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About kismet

  • ::speechless::
    I am so sorry.

  • Take some time. Catch your breath. In actuality, we all live each day under the specter of death.

    I recently had major surgery (March) because of an accident I suffered in August 2004.

    That certainly changed the direction of my life.

    Gather strength from your friends. That’s how I got through.

  • Scary news — God, I don’t know what to say. But I’m sorry. And I hope you’re okay soon.


  • TY Elsa & Trish. Tigress, you’re absolutely right it can happen at any time without warning.

  • I just got done writing a blog about how my (25 year old) wife broke her nose in a woodshop accident when a log smashed into her face — were it not for her safety gear, she probably would have been killed.

    It is true that our lives always hang in a delicate balance — a lesson learned when her Dad died tragically in the California wildfires a couple of years ago.

    In any case, you are young and strong and assuming that you’re early enough in the detection, the balance is tipped in your favor. Keep strong!

    You are the same person that you were 5 minutes ago. It’s just now you’re more aware of your expiration date. And to quote Warren Zevon from his last show with David Letterman, when asked what he learned about life facing his own imminent death from cancer:

    “Enjoy every sandwich.”

  • I want so much to say something, to reach out somehow…but I am just struck dumb. I’m so sorry.

    Was he right? Do you have help? Is there someone there to see you through this?

  • Bennett

    If your piece doesn’t encapsulate my fear of the inevitable, nothing does.

    I have experienced this three times, not personally, but from the angle that your dear friends will experience. The ones that you call over the next few days, or today, perhaps your best friend, with news of this.

    You’ll find out how many people really love you deeply.

    Best of luck!

  • Expressive account of chilling news–I can’t imagine the extent of this numbingly life-changing force, and I’m so sorry to hear it.

  • Oh my god.

    Not sure if you’re comfortable with this – and tough guys look askance – but here’s a big hug.

    As one said you’ve encapsulated my fears.

  • KYS


    My thoughts go out to you. I do hope you have help. I would hold your hand, if I could…

    Thank you for sharing this poignant moment. Your words might help somebody.

  • Trinket:

    Last year, at this time, I was preparing for major surgery. There was a chance that I might die or be permanently paralyzed. I spent most of February and March preparing for every possibility.

    My prayers are with you. Allow your friends to help you. Spend time with your children. Make memories but don’t give up.

    My father died, leaving my mother with three children to raise when I was still young. Children are stronger than you might think. Let them understand and know you and know about your life somehow.

  • trinket, it’s very brave and I hope in some small way cathartic that you chose to share what was — as clearly shown in your words and must in any case be — as horrific and frightening a moment as any person can experience.

    It sounds like you’re the kind of person who can and will find the strength to carry on through this. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • Three years ago I got called into my doctor’s office. It came out of the blue, I hadn’t been for any tests or anything of that sort. It turned out that a ct scan I had had over the summer for somethng else had showed some spots on my lungs.

    Each of them were under 6mm in size which meant that they could be benign. For the next two years I went for a ct scan every three months. Each time I didn’t hear anything was like a new lease on life.

    Even though I have other serious health issues they were trivialized by the chance I could get a phone call telling me that my life was about to change for ever.

    I was lucky, that phone call never came and they’ve decided I’m clear. The thought still lurks in the back of my mind though: What if…

    I can’t pretend to know how you are feeling at this point in your life, and you don’t know me from a hole in the ground, but know that I admire your courage for writing this, and that I believe that the simple fact that you could speaks volumes for your ability to survive anything that is thrown at you.

    Don’t be afraid of your fear, and keep your hope alive. That’s the best medicine you can give yourself. My wife’s Uncle had lung cancer and a cancerous brain tumor. They removed the tumour and stoped the cancer in his lung.

    They’re is always hope because none of us can predict the future.


  • We all have swords hanging over our heads. Sometines we don’t know about them – sometimes we do. One has just been unsheathed over yours.

    Damn! They’re scary to see when they first appear.

    Pray. Get your friends to pray for you. May you experience a full recovery. May G-d give us to all see your essays here – five years from now and later.

  • Wow. Thank you all so much for the thoughts, words of encouragement & for sharing your own close calls. It means more than I can say at the moment.

  • The world changes in a heartbeat. Read everything. If your diet isn’t already perfect, change it. Take medications religiously. Think positively and don’t allow depression to weaken you. Visualize health, visualize the cancer receding. Keep writing and loving those children and the other people who mean something to you. My humble prescription for survival.

    The medics gave me 1, 3 or even 5 years and eating carefully, swimming, popping pills regularly, putting up with surgery after surgery with as much humor as possible; I will have survived 12 years this summer. How much longer? Who knows. Each day is yet another. Try to enjoy them.

    Physicians being busy and not always atuned to all manners of treatment; scour the library and the ‘net for information, for new treatments and approaches. Know your enemy and keep fighting. It takes energy and will and, yes, some humor to keep going in spite of pain or doubts or the (dreaded) energy sump of depression. Keep writing.

    Best wishes for your life as a Cancer Survivor.

  • I will add that I did a review some time ago on a book sent to my wife when she was in the hospital after serious trauma surgery. It was Review: Writing for Healing and, although I had reservations about the book; you might enjoy the push to do what you have already begun; writing your way through things.

  • Just was thinking of you. Hope you’re doing OK.

  • Thank you all once again. I think I’ll be posting something on this later today. Writing will help & it’s the best way that I deal with things.

    Hugs all around.

  • Before you panic, just remember that there is a lot which can be done for cancer nowadays.