Our Breast Cancer Story Part One

My wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in March 2009. Back then we didn’t know that I was going to receive my own cancer diagnosis only seven months later. But in this mini series of six parts called “Our Breast Cancer”, I intend to talk about how our lives have changed when we learned about my wife’s cancer. It’s important that you understand, that the following text is from my point of view only, not my wife’s .

It was the 3rd of March of 2009 when Ann called me up in my hotel room. I was out for business attending a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. A few weeks prior to that, she just had her annual mammogram done. She was called back into the doctor’s office because apparently there were some irregularities seen on the slides. Nothing really to freak out over, since it happened before and her mom and her sisters had a few biopsies done, too, and they always came back okay.

There was this weird two seconds of silence and then she told me, that I had to be very strong now. Her doctor called her and broke her news about her Breast Cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t prepared for that. If someone had told me that I had cancer, yes, I would have been in surprised and maybe shocked. But learning about my wife and her cancer, that was too much for me. My throat clogged and my stomach began to hurt.

What really killed me in that very moment was the fact that I wasn’t with her to just hold her in my arms. But here I was in this hotel room hundreds of miles away and no chance to get back to her before the next day, if I was lucky enough to catch a plane then. When I received my own cancer diagnosis, I was way more contained and calm. But my wife, no, that was too much for me to take.

Ann told me that she had already informed her brother Gary and he was waiting on the other line, so she had to say good-bye to me for now. As we hung up the phone, I collapsed immediately. Nobody should ever go through something like that.

And in the midst of all that, all of a sudden all the things in my life got assigned with different priorities. Ann’s health was now the single most important thing. All our struggles with the mortgage, the bills, etc. became irrelevant instantaneously. I prayed and asked the Lord for help. I was never into organized religion, but I always had faith. Well, he might have been a little surprised that I asked him for help, but for some reason, I felt that he was there for me and I experienced a sense of comfort.

But I realized that I had a lot of things to do. I went online and checked the flight schedule. And there it was; a flight going out back to Jersey at 10:00pm. This was my chance. I changed my initial reservation and booked me a seat on that plane. A few minutes later the airline called me to tell me that this flight is about to get cancelled due to an imminent storm on the East Coast. However, if I could make it within 40 minutes to the airport, they would get me on an earlier flight. So I had 40 minutes to get my stuff together, check out, get a cab and make it somehow onto that plane.

The hotel kindly offered me to give me a shuttle ride over to the Raleigh-Durham airport. Unfortunately, the driver was new in his job and from Kentucky so he didn’t know the area that well. And of course, he missed the one and only exit off of the highway to the airport. The next U-turn was 15 miles away. I could literally see me plane standing there, but now there was no way to get on to it.

I don’t know how it was actually possible, but I still made it. I like to believe that the Lord had mercy with me and I know that this might sound corny to some of you. But anyway, I got on the waiting plane and a few hours later I was able to hold my wife in my arms. The first battle in our personal war on cancer was won.

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