My Date with Breast Cancer
Dates. Our lives are full of important ones - our birthday, our wedding anniversary, our children’s birthdays. In the military, promotion dates and deployment dates are also important. I never thought THESE dates would forever change my life:
February 5th: I’d never been happier to go to a routine physical. I needed it for our family to be stationed overseas. After years and years of waiting, we finally received orders to Germany! But wait – there’s a lump...and it feels “questionable.”
February 6th: At 39 years old, I had my first mammogram. With no history of cancer in my family, I was sure it would turn out okay. At least that is what I told myself – but then I cried and cried knowing that something just didn’t feel right to me either.
February 7th: Biopsy. When the doctor put the needle in, I burst into tears - not because of the pain, but because I knew this was going to be cancer. The doctor and nurse held my hands, hugged me, and told me I needed to prepare for the worst. He told me I had to wait until February 11th to get the results! I told them, “I am not telling ANYONE. It is my mother’s birthday soon, my husband will worry, and my sister will be heartbroken.” My doc immediately replied, “That is the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard! You cannot do this alone. The wait is agonizing and you need someone by your side!” Okay, I saw his point. But how could I tell my family? I had a two-year-old and a five-year-old.
February 7th was the date that my need for my Army family grew so strong it overwhelmed me. Before February 7th, I had no idea what it really meant to be a part of this special group of “Army Wives” (although at Fort Leavenworth, it was actually “Military Wives!”). I cried all the way to my car, all the way home, and then in my driveway. The first person I told was my Army Wife, my Battle Buddy, my newest dear friend that I had only met the previous summer. The Army helped us forge a forever friendship. I went to her house. We cried, we cried a lot, and then...that was it. She helped me come up with a plan. From that day on, my dear friend was there for me EVERY. SINGLE. STEP.
February 11th: My friend waited all day with me. Breakfast, shopping, lunch... just waiting for the dreaded phone call. It finally came at 2 p.m. CANCER. My friend sprang into action like a seasoned Army commander. She rallied the troops (aka the military wives), helped my husband and I create a private Facebook page to keep everyone informed, and created an online meal planner so we wouldn’t have to. Dozens of military spouses immediately sprang into action – lining up like soldiers to offer rides, childcare, meals, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold during chemo, a joke, or even a glass of wine when needed...which was a lot.
February 13th: My first surgery. Even as early as that day, I knew that we would beat cancer. I thank God for my husband, my children, my family, and my friends...but I am especially grateful for my Army family!
For months, I cried thinking about our lost chance for Germany, and the thought of chemo, radiation, a double mastectomy, and lymph node removal. But I also cried tears of joy when I looked around and saw what a beautiful life the Army gave us, and how supported and cared for we were. Our children were shuffled from friend to friend and treated as if each one of those wonderful ladies was their mother. What an amazing feeling to know that I could make a call and within 10 minutes a friend would be at my door to take my kids, provide a meal, or give me a ride to the hospital. I would come home from chemo to a clean house, folded laundry, happy kids, and a full fridge. My friends did that. Because of that sisterhood, my family and I were able to devote every second to beating cancer.
September 20th: Cancer Free!! Those were the words I was waiting for. We did it. We ALL did it – together. We are blessed, we are loved, and we love our military family. We never had to sweat the small stuff, or worry about our children being taken care of.
December: New PCS orders...to Germany! We are happy, healthy, and blessed to be living in Germany and forever grateful to our Army family for helping us through the most difficult chapter of our lives. Together we were, and are, ARMY STRONG!
Have you ever had a time when you were in need? What did your milspouse friends do to help?