It's been two years. Two years since diagnosis. Two years since that day that I got that phone call from my doctor. Two years since I went sobbing down to HR and then into my boss's office and then the awful, lonely drive to Mike's work - to tell him in person. The day is both blurry and vivid at the same time. All of the moments leading up to the call I can't remember - they were so insignificant in comparison - I couldn't tell you what I did that morning, what I ate or what I was wearing. But I can tell you that I can picture the doctor's office's phone number showing up on the screen of my phone. It was to the right of me, on my desk. I had my headphones plugged into my phone. I was typing. I remember taking the call and my doctor telling me he was surprised I hadn't heard from his office sooner. He spouted through a lot of terms related to the results of the biopsy and I remember scrambling to write everything down, circling specific terms like "intraductal carcinoma" ... the ink was blue. I remember in the midst of him telling me other important facts and me scrambling to write everything down, that my cell phone lost it's signal and the call was dropped. I got up and went to the nearby conference room, closer to a window - hoping that would improve my signal - and called my doctor back while at the same time he was trying to call me. I got his voice message just as I was on my third call to his office. We finally connected and he repeated what he left on my voicemail. I wonder now if he thought I just hung up on him. I wonder if that's what usually happens to him in moments like that. I wonder how awful it must be to be him in moments like that.
After a few more dropped calls and re-connections - and a few choice curse words for my cell carrier and their coverage in downtown Denver - I didn't know what to do next. I went to HR and knocked on the door. I didn't care who was in there or what she was working on because I was sure that my problem was more important. The door opened and someone was sitting in the chair. Our eyes met - mine full of tears and those tears taking my mascara down my cheek - she was shooed out of the office and I could only drop my head. I knew I would eventually have to explain that to her - to everyone - because I'm sure it would evolve into gossip about how Melissa came crying to HR and how they all wonder what it was about. Little would they know that the gossip wasn't as salacious as they all were probably hoping for. I went into the office and all I could do was show her my notes - that were now smudged with water spots from my simultaneous crying and writing - and dropped calling. I managed to get out what my doctor told me. We went down to my boss's office, knocked on the door and went in. "I have cancer," was all I could muster before the tears took over. HR said I needed to go home.
I don't remember the walk to my car or the drive to Mike's office. I do remember being paranoid that Mike was going to call me before I made it to his office. I wasn't in any state to disguise my voice and I know that if he asked me where I was, that I wouldn't have been able to hide that I was coming to see him. I wouldn't be able to avoid the question that would send me over the edge - "why?"
I pulled up to a parking spot near the front entrance to his building - the visitor spots. For some reason I picked the spot that was closest to the sidewalk, right in front of the doors. In hindsight, I should have picked a spot in the back - one of the ones that faced away from the building, so anyone walking by would only see the back of my car and the back of the headrests, should they look our direction. I called Mike. I tried to seem OK ... I asked if he could come outside. I told him I was there and that he needed to come out. He must have known something was up because he didn't push for me to tell him why I was there.
I don't remember what I thought about while I waited or how long I waited. I don't really remember Mike's reaction. I remember simply telling him - in just a flood of words that were as run together as a traffic jam - that I got a call from my doctor and the results of the biopsy said that I have cancer. I broke at that point. I couldn't do anything other than cry. Mike shifted in his seat to face me better. And that's all I can remember. We talked, I know. And somehow we got home.
I can't tell you what happened that evening or that night. I can guess though - it most likely involved lots of crying.
Since then, things have moved really quickly. One month after diagnosis, I had my first surgery. Four months after diagnosis, I started chemo. By November, chemo was over and in December I had my final surgery. By the following February, I strutted my stuff, and my very short hair, at our Valentine's dinner - with the help of a few martini's. At the one year mark, Mike and I even forgot that it had been a year. Life just kept going - forward and forward and forward. There was no time to slow down and "have cancer" ... and truthfully - I'm glad for it. There are other things I would much rather slow down for - like smelling tulips or gossiping with my sister and mom or laughing with friends ... or just living my life.