I 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.