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Our World Turned Up Side Down

Since it was Friday afternoon, and late I might add, we decided to drive to the beach and just enjoy the last rays of the day. We thought maybe this would be a good idea, and with the sun setting and sitting in silence, maybe we could actually absorb the devastating news we had just been given. So that is what we did. We drove to Rio Del Mar Beach, parked at the wall facing the ocean, and just sat there. I actually just stared out at the ocean as far as I could see. I was still in a state of shock. As I shook myself back to reality, and started to think about what I had just been told, the tears started to pour again. I just let them pour. Our world had just been turned up side down, and we did not even know how to cope with this news! My husband sat in silence and watched me. He just sat there and let me react as I needed to react at the time. I cried for a good half hour, and then I wiped my tears. I decided I was not going to let this information pull me to the dark side just yet. We had the week-end to try and comprehend the news. Also, I did not want to wallow in pity over the week-end. I really wanted to enjoy the next two days, since I had no idea what was going to happen once Monday morning rolled around. Once the sun went down, we headed home. We had not eaten lunch and by now we were famished. When we got home, my husband fixed dinner while I vegetated on the sofa, trying to concentrate on television. I kept drifting in and out of spaciness. I don’t really remember much about that night. Once dinner was over, I did head straight to the computer. I wanted to find out what I was in for. I am not one to put things off. If something is going to happen to me, I want to know everything possible. I am not a control freak, but I do like to have some control over what will happen. I also feel like information is power. It offers me the opportunity to make better decisions. I was on the computer until around 4:00 A.M. in the morning. I was reading everything I could get my hands on trying to figure out how I was going to navigate through this horrible diagnosis.

WHAT IS CANCER?

As I did my research, I realized I knew nothing about my cancer. I did not know what size tumor I had, I did not know even what kind of cancer I had, except that it was breast cancer. I had no idea about medications, treatments, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or anything else to do with cancer. Like I said before, I had tried to stay as far away from breast cancer as I could. I think I thought if I ignored it, it would not get me. I also read a lot of individual accounts of women with breast cancer. I was horrified by much of the information and actually ended up on information overload. I often do that though, when I am trying to learn something new. However, I really did not want to learn all of this information. I knew, however, from past experiences, that if I armed myself with information, hopefully I would make better decisions. I knew I would not sleep that night anyway, so I kept digging. But by 4:00 A.M. I was totally exhausted, both emotionally and physically. I was completely drained. I also realized that we had not even told our son yet. That was something we were going to have to do on Saturday. I had wanted to wait until Monday, but I knew that I could not withhold that information that long. I really did not want to ruin his weekend, too, but I knew that I probably would. I finally headed to bed, but I tossed and turned for the next 6 hours. I dozed some because I was so exhausted, but I kept waking up.

Finally, I got up at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday. We decided to go to the beach! I know it sounds crazy, but we knew in our hearts that come Monday our life was going to be turned up side down! Neither one of us was any good, anyway, and we knew we would not accomplish a damn thing for the rest of the weekend. We would be absorbed in discussing what we were going to do? We had no idea?? So we packed up the car with towels, stools, lunch, drinks, ice and anything else we would need, and headed to the beach. It was probably the best thing we could have done. It was absolutely gorgeous that day, and we just sat on the wall staring out at the ocean. I did take my camera. I love to take pictures. When I am shooting pictures, I kind of space out and completely forget about everything bothering me and anything and everything around me, except for what I am shooting. I get so wrapped up in my photography that nothing else matters at the time. This actually was very good for me under the circumstances. I spent at least 2 hours completely submerged in my photography. I got some pretty decent pictures also. Sometimes when I cannot sleep, we go to the beach. For some reason, all of the sun and the fresh air and cool breeze relaxes me and I usually conk out for at least 4 hours. I desperately needed this to happen on Saturday night since I got no sleep, or very little sleep, on Friday night.

After spending a little over 6 hours on the beach, we decided to head home. We still had not told our son the devastating news, and I knew I could not wait until Monday. I had to give him time to absorb our new reality. The beach did us both a world of good. We really needed that as our last H-U-R-R-A-H before the start of the next week. Once we got home, had some dinner, and kind of settled down, we called our son. He was very shocked to hear the news. We talked for quite a while trying to explain to him what little we knew. He tried to be very supportive and positive. I LOVE THAT KID! But I could hear the worry and discontent in his voice. We promised to call him Monday or Tuesday after we had more information.

Jeff and I both just kind of muddled through Sunday. I did pass out late Saturday night from sheer exhaustion. But when I woke up Sunday morning, I felt like I had been hit by a mac truck! My mind immediately started jumping to conclusions and worse case scenarios. I was extremely anxious, distraught, disappointed, depressed and I had a terrible sense of doom and extreme sadness. I just could not get a handle on it. I have always felt like I could handle anything. In every case in my life, I had always stepped up to the plate. I always took the responsibility. I always handled the hard parts. Now I felt totally incapable of doing anything. I think in the deep recesses of my mind I was AFRAID I was going to DIE. I had not consciously reached into those depths yet, but looking back I know that thought was already there and it scared the hell out of me. I have never considered myself a lucky person. But I had always felt like I got a fair shake. This time, I wasn’t so sure??? Once again, I had a totally sleepless night. My mind just would not quit spinning. I think I finally passed out around 5:00 A.M. Stupid me! I had taken my cell phone to bed with me and it was laying on the nightstand. Even stupider of me! I left the volume turned up!

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Connie Ward

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