I was 24 years old when I found it; at first I wasn’t sure, so I felt again and again. Then I felt the other one to be sure, which confirmed my fears: I had discovered a lump in my breast. I laid still and quiet in my bed for a long time, just thinking about the foreign mass that was residing in my breast. “A cyst, that’s what it is.” I told myself. I was 24, there was no way I had cancer, I couldn’t even allow that to enter my brain. “I have a cyst, no big deal, a lot of young women get them. I’ll be just fine”
A year later I was on the phone with one of my friends when she asked if I’d seen a doctor about my “cyst”. I hadn’t, but I assured her I would since her mother was battling breast cancer. A few weeks later I was sitting at the Vanderbilt Breast Center, and hearing the words from the radiologist, “you have a tumor, and we need to biopsy it.”
“Wait, what are saying, this isn’t a cyst, we just can’t stick a needle in it and it’ll burst.” I was shocked, at 25 I had a tumor in my breast, but could it really be cancer?
When I came in for my biopsy, I was terrified. I sat in the waiting room watching all the women around me. There were women from all walks of life, all ethnicities, and to my surprise all ages. There were women wearing scarves to cover their hair loss from chemotherapy, there were women being comforted by husbands, mothers, sisters, and friends. There were women who looked weak and frail. Yet, among all these women, you could feel one tangible thing and that was Hope.
Hope for a cure, hope for good test results, hope for shrinkage, hope for remission, hope for another day to keep fighting, keep living, keep breathing, keep hoping. I had to wipe the tears from my eyes as I gathered strength from this phenomenal group of women. Could I be this strong? Could I have hope in the face of this monster? Could my resolve be to live to see another day?
After the biopsy, I had to wait a few days before getting the results. When the phone rang, I immediately recognized the Vanderbilt prefix. I answered and held my breath. “Benign..” Began the voice on the other end of the phone. I exhaled a sigh of relief, but my heart was forever changed by the scene in that waiting room. The hope I felt. The strength that was prevalent. Those women were in a fight for their lives but they had hope, and that was the force that kept them in the ring.