My cell rang, and I looked for someplace private to take the call. I walked into the garage and closed the door to my office, which happened to be my car. Sitting inside the car, inside the garage, I found my familiar haven. With three kids and a constant stream of places to be, things to do, people to talk with, this place became my refuge, my place to regroup and sometimes even catch a nap. This time, however, I can’t remember even breathing. I fumbled to open the storage compartment to grab a pen and whatever paper I could find. The doctor said in a matter-of-fact tone: “I have your biopsy results. The pathology report shows you have invasive lobular carcinoma.”
I scribbled down the words, trying to sound them out. Something about pathology and those three foreign words. I cleared my throat, scribbled little circles on the corner of the paper to start the ink flowing again, and asked: “Wait. What does this mean?”
“I’m sorry. The biopsy shows you have breast cancer.”
I had no words.¹
Three days before that call from the doctor, my appointment for an annual mammogram turned into a three-hour ordeal, which included an ultrasound followed by a core biopsy. I left the medical office feeling shocked and bewildered. Exposed. Violated.
When I called my husband, the familiarity of his voice allowed space for me to lower my weakening attempts to maintain composure. Tears of confusion, fear, and disbelief silently dotted the sidewalk as I tried to explain what had happened. I stood on the crowded sidewalk and held back the growing urge to let out, in a deep guttural cry, the slew of emotions tumbling inside. Somehow I managed to make my way back to the car. Once inside, I tried to calm down and look out the window as cars passed by. Everyone going somewhere. And I sat and watched. My life—a sudden standstill.