The Tears I Shed
When I was diagnosed about two and a half years ago, it came as a total shock. I had exercised avidly, was not overweight, had no history of breast cancer in the family, and didn’t smoke or drink. All the answers to the myriad of questions by health care professionals were all no, no, no and no. I saw my OB/GYN annually and had regular mammograms. So how was it possible for me to discover that I had stage 3 triple negative breast cancer? There was no time for denial or self-pity as it was necessary to make decisions about doctors, surgery, reconstruction, and treatment plans as soon as possible. I was told not to let my illness define me, but that is exactly what happened. I thought it was written all over my face as I walked around doing errands, chatting with neighbors and just going about my business. I am not a person given to tears but suddenly I found myself crying incessantly. When my friend whom I’ve known for over 30 years came to visit, she commented on how she’d never seen me cry. But there I was falling apart in front of her. When I ran into an acquaintance, someone I was not particularly close with, I suddenly found myself crying in her arms, right there in the checkout line of the neighborhood grocery. It was all quite embarrassing. When I first called Sharsheret I had to hang up because I couldn’t speak. They understood and told me to try again anytime. Apparently, tears were not unusual to the wonderful staff there. They were more than happy to put up with my choked up speech, and put me in touch with a peer supporter who also told me not to be embarrassed. I considered myself fortunate that my five daughters were all grown and did not require me to put up a strong front, and it was easy for me to take time off working in my husband’s office. But what did other women do who had to attend to small children, or who had jobs they could not neglect? Those women may not be braver than I am, but it is necessary for them to put on a brave front, and they have my sincerest admiration. Now that I am two years out, I am practically normal, thank Gd, both in my health and control of my emotions. When Rochelle Shoretz, a”h, Sharsheret’s Founder, passed away I once again called Sharsheret in tears. The Sharsheret staff once again told me that it was quite normal for me to react the way I was. Sharsheret has been there for me, never asking for anything in return. It is my pleasure to now contribute to their blog and share my experience. There are no more tears, but if I do have a moment of weakness I will not be embarrassed.