A while back I promised to write a whole post devoted to the day I was diagnosed. My flip day. My hard-to-breathe, remember-for-the-rest-of-my-life day. In honor of being back in Houston for the eighth time and for finally coming to peace with this chapter of my life, here is my cancer day. The day that would lead me into a new family. A day that would grant me new supporters, new friends, and new soldiers, fighting right alongside me.
So here goes...January 25th, 2018. 4:43 pm.
The day started out like any other day. I woke up that Thursday morning feeling especially high on life. The wednesday night before held many little blessings that the Lord brought me to recognize as I laid in bed before hearing news that would change everything. As I have said before, the week of my diagnosis was a “jesus working” week. but, it wasn’t until that Thursday night that I completely understood why God had wanted so badly for me to feel his presence in the moments that I danced around with friends, laughed in the hallway with a teacher, and stood on stage in front of a congregation of young teenagers as a representation of the Lord’s love for us...even for just a moment.
On the morning of January 25th I headed to school around 8:45 am with my brother Preston, and we parted our separate ways as I went to Choir and he went along to his class. In all honesty, I don’t remember a lot of details about that day other than that I was happy. I wasn’t concerned about my lymph node biopsy and I wasn’t thinking about the pains in my abdomen. I was focused on day 5 of being 18 years old and the importance of stopping to enjoy the pink flowers scattered across from my newly painted parking spot that I had recently finished just about two weeks before. I went to my classes that day and went to lunch with friends. I spent time with my PALS and worried about passing yet another Stat test (raise your hand if this is you at the end of every unit in any class haha). That Thursday was an especially long day at school because it was a day that I didn’t have an off-period, meaning I got out of school at the normal time (4:20pm), instead of on my early off days at 2:30pm. Little did I know, those two extra hours meant my dad beating me home. Those two extra hours meant my parents getting the opportunity to cry in each other’s arms before having to hold me as I sat staring straight ahead. I left school with my windows down, music playing loud, and pulled into my driveway around 4:40pm to see both my parents outside looking oddly uncomfortable and upset. I soon realized as I pulled my car past them that something was wrong. I didn’t know in that moment that it was because of my biopsy results. But as soon as my mom was standing at my car window before I even had the chance to open my door, I knew it was bad. I opened my door to a shaking hand and both my parent’s tear-covered faces. All I remember my mom saying was “you’re going to be okay. we’re going to beat this”. and then the word no one ever wants to hear: “it’s cancer”. the c word. “lymphoma”. Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I couldn’t do anything but stare at my lap and say nothing. Talk about a life changing moment in a matter of seconds. We talked a little more about the details as I sat there and sobbed, verbally expressing my “what the hell” statements of “why me” and “how”.
Mom slowly backed away as my dad explained what it meant to have lymphoma and what the next steps might be for me. I just cried. He asked if I wanted to step out of the car and I’m pretty sure I just sat there for 15 minutes or so. Not being able to move and even process the moment in the first place. When I finally got out of the car I couldn’t walk. It wasn’t even like lymphoma was keeping me from moving. It was the shock of knowing that things would be different, and the feeling of a stomach flipped upside down. I made it into the house eventually and crawled into a corner in our living room as I attempted to process the whole situation. I can honestly say that in that moment we were lost and confused. We had no idea what the next steps would be, but that period of grey did not last long. The next few hours of that night brought overwhelming feelings of love and support. We immediately had people of all ages rallying around us and comforting us. I have never felt so loved.
When I think back to that night I can’t help but be thankful for life and the people who continue to hold me in their arms. When I first got to Texas Children’s, one of my nurses explained that this whole journey would feel like a roller coaster in the beginning. And let me tell you, it was been a scary one. But as I sit here in the exam room on day 8 of my 4th round of chemo, I cannot imagine my friend cancer NOT having come into my life. I can’t imagine having not walked through the gates of my “Cancer Disney World” to get on this roller coaster called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Believe it or not, I can confidently say that I cannot imagine my life without cancer.
I know that January 25th changed my life forever and I’m dang glad it did.