Avril Lavigne was playing on the radio in the car on the way home from my lumpectomy back on July 2, 2002.  It had been the first procedure that I ever had at a hospital. Hospitals had been happy places for me up to that point, as it was the place where my babies were born.  When I woke up after the anesthesia, the doctor told me that what he had seen was “worrisome” but, we would have to wait for biopsy results to be sure of what we were dealing with.  I tried to be brave.  My surgery was at Glen  Cove Hospital so, we drove home through Brookville.  I was queasy from the anesthesia and obviously, scared out of my mind. I was able to hold it together until I called my mother, who was watching the babies. Jack was only four months so, I wasn’t able to speak to him but, after assuring my mother that I was ok (which was difficult to pull off, believe me), I asked to speak to Michael. It was then that I lost it.

When I heard his little three-year old boy voice, the voice so innocent and full of hope and love, I lost it. I managed to not cry. I held it in with all my might. I was able to speak for maybe three minutes. The second I hung up, I told Al to pull over, and I tossed my cookies and lost my mind.

How could this be happening? How? I was thirty-one years old.  Breast cancer?  I felt fine. I just had a baby. I was a mother. My kids needed me. My husband needed me.  I had a business to run. Although I was “officially” diagnosed a few days later, this was the moment I knew.  My parents, my sisters, my friends and especially my husband held out hope. I almost felt sorry for them, as they tried to reassure each other and reassure me that it could be nothing. That it might be fine. I knew better. It was “worrisome”, the doctor had said and I was worried.

Anyway, the song was “Complicated” and I had loved it up to that point.  It was played relentlessly that entire summer, the summer of the end of life as I knew it.  For a long time, whenever I heard that song, I would have an actual physical reaction. I would get nervous, anxious and be taken right back to that place. I would hear Michael’s voice, so small and vulnerable, I would remember the way my stomach twisted and turned like the very roads we were driving on, how my mother’s face looked when I walked into the house. How she looked desperate. How my dad didn’t know what to say and how my husband got right on the phone with the doctor, wanting him to tell us for sure what was going on, could it be nothing? Please, God, let it be nothing.

Now, when the song comes on, I am able to sing.  I sing loud and clear. I sing because I am still here.

Everyone knows that my favorite movie is “Jaws”.  Another of my favorite movies has always been “Terms of Endearment”.  I don’t know what I was thinking but, around January of 2003, at the heart of my ordeal, when  I had my surgeries, was put into early menopause with shots in my ass every three months(just a few months after having raging hormones from being pregnant), and was in the middle of my chemotherapy, I was flipping around the channels and stopped at the beginning of “Terms of Endearment”.

I’m sure most people reading this has seen the movie at least once in your life. If not, let me let you in on a few things; it is extremely well written, well acted, funny at times and unbearably sad. I challenge anyone to try to get through that movie without a tissue.  “Get my daughter the shot!”

Well, I will admit that it was not my brightest moment.  I was Debra Winger and her two sons were my two sons. There is a scene where the boys come to visit her in the hospital and she has to tell them that she is going to die. I am telling you – that was me. I became Debra Winger. I could not even think about the movie, let alone watch it again, for years.  It would send me into convulsive sobbing.

But, you know what? I watch it now.  I watch it and, I still cry but, I cry like I did before I was diagnosed. I am NOT Debra Winger anymore. She died. I did not. I lived. I live. And, I’ll be damned if I let cancer take that beautiful movie away from me.

I guess the point of this entry is to let people know that scars heal, life goes on, things may bring back memories but, the bad ones get hazy around the edges. It’s one of God’s gifts to us.  It just takes some time.

Don’t let a bad experience rob you of things you love.  Get back in the saddle, if you will, and try again. You might find you are not ready but, keep trying. Eventually, you will find your spirit will overcome and you can enjoy life to the fullest once again.