September 1st=SEVEN MONTHS TO RELEASE DATE! This is how Chapter One begins in the pre-edited version of “Warrior In Pink.” So thankful for all of you who have helped spread the word.
Don’t forget sugar cookies! was scribbled with a big Sharpie pen on one of several Post-its stuck inside my planner.
It was one of many things to remember on this especially busy day. We had finally arrived at the last Friday of school after an abnormally full week, which included a Christmas orchestra concert at the high school and a Christmas dinner with the leadership board of our church. I had been up until 1 am the night before addressing Christmas cards. The week was culminating with two holiday class parties at the elementary school.
My six-year-old daughter, Julia, had food allergies to dairy, eggs, and peanuts. So, as with every school party and birthday party, I baked something special she could enjoy. In this case it was allergen-free, extra large sugar cookies for her to decorate in class and eat. The cookies were placed in a Tupperware container on the counter by the phone so I wouldn’t forget.
A quick stop to get a mammogram, and then off to school to volunteer in Julia’s first-grade class. Then I would pop in to eleven-year-old Michael’s sixth-grade class to help a bit with his party and catch up with the other moms. Then back into the car to head over to the high school to pick up my fifteen year old, Jonathan. He had early out. Then into the car and back to school to scoop up the kids. And then the mom taxi service would be able to go off line for a spell.
I was looking forward to the weeks ahead as a time to exhale and take in the wonderful stretch of Christmas break.
Two weeks earlier I had mentioned a suspicious lump to my new doctor. She checked and said it didn’t worry her. But just in case, she gave me a form for a diagnostic mammogram. I stuffed my Bible and journal in my bag on my way out the door. As a mom of three, I squeezed in whatever chunks of time opened up to connect with God.
The mammogram took longer than I had remembered from the previous two in years past. As we finished up, the technician told me that they needed to do an ultrasound. And so I awkwardly grabbed my bag and held closed the ugly front-opening smock as I followed her out of the room.
We snaked around the hallway to another waiting area by the clothes-changing section. I was unsettled at needing further testing so I pulled out my journal and Bible and tried to get comfortable on the stiff waiting room chairs. All the while my hand kept tightening as I bunched the fabric to keep the smock closed. Elevator Christmas music played overhead. With one hand I flipped to where I had left off. My Bible reading plan had me camped out in the book of Psalms, found in the middle of the Bible. Part of the reading for the day was Psalm 66. It was already colorfully underlined, a sign that those verses had significance to me in the past. This time as I read, my eyes stopped as I came to verse 12:
“We went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.”
God impressed on my heart that this verse was for me. It was as if He laid out for me what was ahead—a testing through fire and water. And a promise that He would bring us out of it to a new place. A place of abundance.
I scribbled down thoughts and prayers in my journal until I was called into a darkened room. I lay down on the cold table as the ultrasound technician took measurements. The sound of her tapping keys on her computer and clicking measurements was similar to what I heard when my belly was large with babies. The cold, clear lubricant smelled the same.
The technician left after a while and returned with the doctor. I started shaking from the cold. The doctor measured and checked and muttered. “I don’t like what I’m seeing here. No. This is not what I wanted to see.”
I asked her, “Is it bad?”
She looked me in the eyes. “I’m not going to pussyfoot around. I don’t like what I see, so we are going to have to take tissue samples. After the biopsy comes back we will know for sure.”
I was handed a clipboard with information about getting a core biopsy. I had to read and sign papers, but could barely hold the pen steady in my hand. They left to gather instruments for the procedure, and I was alone again, lying in the dark room. My shaking grew stronger. When they returned I focused on a spot on the ceiling and used my Lamaze breathing, learned in child-birthing class, to try and calm down. They took three or four tissue samples. The loud sound from the device was startling and despite having a shot to numb the area, the procedure was still painful.
After the core biopsy I was taken to another room to get bandaged up. The nurse gently wrapped gauze around and around me. She gave me papers to read and sign. When she finished, she looked at me. “I am so sorry.” She hugged me before she left. I found the hug odd, but comforting. I don’t remember having a nurse hug me before. It communicated to me what couldn’t be said until the biopsy results came back.
When I finally left the office, I took out my phone to call my husband, Darrin. Three hours had passed. My knees felt so weak and I collapsed on the sidewalk outside the office. I felt somehow violated. Tears came as the shock wore off. Julia needed her cookies, could he take them to her? Could he apologize to her for me for not coming to the party? Could he pick up Jonathan and could he be home for me because I was shaking and scared?
I managed to make my way to the car through blurry, tear-filled vision. Inside the car I sat in the driver’s seat trying to calm down and looked out the window as cars drove by. Everyone was going somewhere. And I sat and watched.
My life had suddenly come to a standstill.