Dr. Stephen Hilgers (gynecologist) called me on my cell phone this afternoon. I was in the car after dropping my daughter, Anna, at work and was just pulling up to my garage. The landscaper, Francisco Mendoza, was there and I was meeting him to go over some things about the irrigation system. I asked Dr. Hilgers to wait a moment so I could get him off my speaker phone in the car. I also asked Francisco to give me a moment that I needed to take an important call. Dr. Hilgers, who is a kind, classy and polite man, a doctor who is more on the calm side than the alarmist side, began an explanation that slowly sent little shocks into my extremities and made me dizzy. He used medical terminology assuming I was following along. I suddenly became aware of the sun and the wood grain on the step beneath me. I was hearing his voice through a tunnel, a filter that allowed me to stay upright. At some point, there was a pause. I thought it might be a good time to make sure I was following the conversation, to get to the point, to hear the words. I asked, rather bluntly, “Dr. Hilgers, so I have breast cancer, is that correct?” He simply answered, “Yes.” I felt my eyes fill up and my jaw slightly hang. I thought of all the times I felt grateful for the doctors’ attention, the times I felt annoyed if I didn’t get it, and how, now, I couldn’t hang up that phone fast enough. He explained that he would be referring me to a surgeon, Dr. Sherry Lim, that she is one of the very best. I thanked him and finally got off that phone.
Francisco, noticing I had hung up, slowly approached to explain the irrigation. We have been working with him for four years now. I began sobbing. He offered to wait with me until Ken got home. It just felt surreal. Here was Francisco, dirt on his shirt, standing there in the sun, thinking about irrigation, and here I was, in this medical fog, wondering how in the hell I went from trouble-shooting Lupus at the onset of this whole thing, to breast cancer. Our worlds could not have been more different, yet there we were. I stood up, wiped my face and we walked around front. I told him to please explain it all to Ken. We hugged and he left.
I called Ken to tell him it was positive. He packed up his stuff and came home. He worked from home the remainder of that week and, together, we began our plan to fight this.