How It Feels When You Find Out You Have Breast Cancer

I believe this moment is always and forever etched in your memory. For me, it was the phone call that would change my life in an instant.

You see I believe that life before cancer and life after cancer are completely different. There is not one that is better or worse, just radically different.

One phone call can change it all

The moment I saw that my doctor was calling my cell phone at 6 pm on a Thursday night, I knew something was just not right. When I answered and I heard his voice I immediately knew that this was not good news. I remember each word he said, but I couldn’t understand what he was actually saying.

Everything just immediately stopped for me and I felt a surge of panic take over my whole body. I paced back and forth in my apartment, thinking if I moved around that might be better for some reason.

He explained that a biopsy that I had had two days prior was positive for breast cancer, and from the sound of his voice I could tell he was just as surprised as I was.

How it felt to receive a breast cancer diagnosis

For me, this felt like an out-of-body experience. I knew what was happening in my logical brain, but I felt like I was in a movie and I was watching myself.  

How could this be happening? What was going to happen to me? What would my life be like?  Was I going to die? What would happen to my family? 

These are just a few of the initial questions that came flooding into my head. A scary numbness that completely took over in just a matter of seconds.

With that one phone call, I knew my life would never be the same. Now what? What happens after you hang up the phone with your doctor, or leave the doctor’s office after receiving this type of news?

Everything is different now

In my experience, one of the hardest parts was and remains that everything and everyone around you is the same and yet I was completely different.

What I wish I could go back and tell myself in that very moment when I thought my life was over, that it was quite the opposite. A new phase of my life was just beginning.

I would have said "Joanna this is going to be so hard and so painful physically and emotionally, but you will remerge as your true self and be happier than you are now." I am not sure I would have believed my future self, especially if I knew there was going to be a pandemic and divorce that followed this phone call.

Still learning from breast cancer

I know for sure that cancer forced me to tell the truth. There was so much I had been hiding and overlooking in my personal life for decades. 

I often refer to cancer as my greatest teacher, I never call it a gift because let’s be serious who wants a gift like that?

It’s one of the hardest things that any of us could ever go through as humans, so my thought is to let me pay attention to what this is trying to teach me.

What has cancer taught you?

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