Damaged Goods: A Breast Cancer Story

Damaged Goods: A Breast Cancer Story

Damaged Goods: A Breast Cancer Story

Jason came into the bedroom carrying a tray filled with a stack of pancakes, a bowl of strawberries and two cups of steaming coffee. Underneath his armpit was the morning paper and clinched in his teeth was one long stem red rose. Sydney watched as he sauntered across the room, adoring this wonderful man who had chosen her. When he approached the bed he sat the tray down, took the rose from his mouth and presented it to her. He then leaned down and kissed her long and hard, as he was pulling away he looked deep into her eyes and whispered the words, “I love you”. Sydney reached out taking his hand in hers and said, “I love you more.” Jason just smiled and crawled onto the bed beside her, grabbed a strawberry and plopped it into his mouth, smiling sheepishly.

Sydney loved spending Saturday’s with Jason, after breakfast they would make slow delicious love and then take off for some kind of adventure. Today they had chosen to go the gun range and do some target practice and then have a picnic lunch down by the river. Sydney got up and went downstairs to pack the picnic basket while Jason jumped into the shower. As soon as Jason finished showering she jumped in and thirty minutes later they were headed out the door.

When they arrived at the range Jason grabbed all of their gear and the spent the next couple of hours target shooting. Afterwards they headed down to the river to enjoy their picnic which consisted of fried chicken, fresh fruit, and cheeses along with a bottle of wine. Finishing lunch they cuddled up on the viking shirts and hoodies and fell asleep. Sydney woke first and sat up just enough so that she could see Jason’s face. He was such a handsome man, dark features, square jaw line and a set of eyes that you could get lost in. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was to have found a man like Jason; he spoiled her, made sure that she had everything that she needed. He would even bring dinner to her when she worked long hours. Jason stirred and said, “I think we should probably be heading home, it will be getting dark soon.” Sydney smiled and started putting things away. They walked hand in hand back to the car and headed home. They both felt rejuvenated after having such a relaxing afternoon, they had needed it. She couldn’t wait for next Saturday, to see what adventures awaited them.

Their week was hectic, Jason was an attorney and his law office had a high profile case going and he was spending long hours preparing the defense. Sydney had her own Photography Studio, plus she free-lanced. She always had her hands full with some project; it was her passion to see her photos come to life. This week had been no exception. After putting in a twelve hour day she decided to pack it in and go home.

Arriving home she was sadden to see that Jason hadn’t made it yet. Sydney decided to take a shower, relax and wait for him to get home. While in the shower she was doing a self-breast exam and as she was half way around her left breast she felt a lump, no that can’t be right she was saying to herself as she began examining the breast one more time and just as the first time there it was a lump about the size of a half dollar. Somehow she got out of the shower and got dressed. Jason came home a couple of hours later to find her sitting on the edge of the bed staring off into space. He walked over to her and said, “Sydney” but she didn’t respond, so he said her name a couple of more times when she still didn’t respond he finally reached over and touched her, she looked up at him and the tears began to roll down her cheeks. Jason grabbed her and said, “Honey, what’s wrong, what is it?” Sydney couldn’t talk at first she just curled up into Jason’s lap. When she finally pulled herself together she looked up at him and said, “I am damaged goods.” Jason had no idea what she was talking about; his mind was racing through about a hundred different scenarios. He finally asked her what she was talking about and she said I found a lump in my breast. Jason breathed a sigh of relief; thankful that it wasn’t one of the hundred other things he had been thinking because in his line of work he knew how horrific things could be. He just pulled Sydney closer to him and said, “Whatever it turns out to be we will do this together.” Jason picked her up and laid her on the bed, crawled in beside her and pulled her into his arms. That is the way they woke up the next morning.

Wasting no time Sydney called the doctor’s office that morning and made an appointment for the following day, luckily they’d had a cancellation or she would have been waiting a couple of weeks. She decided to go to her studio and do some work, she knew the best thing for her was to keep busy, but even with that there were so many thoughts going through her mind. If this was cancer she wasn’t sure what would happen to her business, worse yet what if Jason wouldn’t want her anymore. She got up and walked over to the mirror, unbuttoned her veteran hoodies and stared at her breast; she touched them and tried to imagine what she would look like if she had to have a mastectomy. Sydney just couldn’t believe that this was happening to her. She buttoned her veteran hoodies and headed off to her studio, she needed a distraction from all of this.

When she arrived home Jason’s car was in the garage, she took a deep cleansing breath, put a smile on her face and went into the house. She wasn’t prepared for what greeted her, there in the dining room stood Jason having pulled out a chair for her and there on the table was a beautiful candlelit dinner. He motioned for her to sit down; once she was seated he leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. He took his seat and began serving dinner. Jason then told her he had something he wanted to talk to her about. He went on to explain that he had spent the day at the office researching breast cancer and there options. He said, “We don’t know if you have cancer but I wanted us to know what our options were.” Jason told here that after they went to the doctor and talked with him they would form a game plan, until then they were going to enjoy their evening together. Sydney didn’t hear everything that Jason said because she just focused on the word “our”, he was planning on going through this with her.

Sydney relaxed some after that and enjoyed dinner with Jason. They spent the rest of the evening talking shop and she fell asleep in Jason’s arms.

They were sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be called back, Sydney was visibly nervous and Jason just sat there holding her hand. They were finally called back and after the doctor examined her, he explained that he would have his nurse call and set up a mammogram. He came back in a few minutes later saying that her mammogram was scheduled for Friday that was only three day away. The doctor explained to both of them that depending on the finding of the mammogram that they may want to do an ultrasound. Depending on what they saw on the ultrasound they might schedule a needle core biopsy. Her doctor tried to be reassuring, but they were both nervous, the waiting, and the not knowing was difficult. They thanked the doctor as they left his office.

When they arrived home Jason told Sydney that maybe they should talk about all the options that were available to them, starting with worst case scenario. They spent the better part of three hours discussing the options. If it was cancer and depending on the stage of the cancer they would either choose a lumpectomy or a mastectomy and followed by chemotherapy, if necessary. For personal reason and the side effects they chose not to have radiation. They’d make the decision about reconstruction once they knew if she was going to have surgery, but at least now they had a game plan that worked for them.

They both had a difficult time sleeping Thursday night, but they were up and ready to go to the Breast Clinic. They didn’t have to wait long once they arrived. Jason had to stay in the waiting room while Sydney went to the back. Jason paced the entire time Sydney was in the back. They did the mammogram and sent her into the hallway to wait. To her it seemed like hours, but it was only about twenty minutes when they called her back in the room and the doctor came in and told her based on the finding of the mammogram that they would like for her to have an ultrasound. Tears just slipped down her cheeks, it looked as though her worst nightmare was coming to pass. They performed the ultrasound and the doctor looked over the results and told her they needed to schedule a needle core biopsy. The nurse returned to the room and handed her a slip of paper with her appointment, she didn’t even look at it. She walked out of the room and headed out to find Jason. He was waiting for her, still pacing and she ran into his arms, he knew by her reaction that things didn’t look good. Jason knew that he needed to remain strong for Sydney; right now this was about what she needed.

When they got in the car she began telling Jason about the findings and that they scheduled her for a biopsy on Tuesday. He told her he would clear his schedule and would go with her. She was so appreciative that he would be with her. Jason suggested that they go away for the weekend, but Sydney said that she had a lot of work that she needed to get done since they didn’t know what they were going to be facing after Tuesday. Jason agreed and said he would go into his the office and wrap some things up as well. Jason knew that he might have to turn the high profile case he was handling over to someone else in his office, because he needed to be with Sydney. He would give one of his partners a call when he got home and fill him in.

The day of the biopsy they left the house early stopping to have breakfast and then going to the nature center and taking a walk. Today they didn’t talk much they were just enjoying being together. Sydney was drawing strength from Jason and he was treasuring this time with her.

When they arrived at the Breast Clinic they took her back and performed the biopsy. The nurse told her that it would take a couple of days to get the results and her doctor would call her with the results. She walked out to Jason and said, “Let’s go home.”

Friday morning her cell phone rang and when she looked at the caller ID, her heart came up into her throat, it was the doctor’s office. Sydney called for Jason, he came into the room took hold of her hand as she answered the phone placing it on speaker in order for both of them to hear. The doctor said that he was sorry but that results came back positive for cancer and told her that he’d scheduled her appointment with a surgeon. Sydney just sank to the floor while Jason wrote down the information the doctor was giving him. Jason slid down to the floor beside Sydney and pulled her into his arms. They weren’t aware of anything else going on in the world, because theirs had just come crashing in. Jason knew they’d get through it, but he was worried about the toll all of this was taking on Sydney.

Over the next few days she just went through things by rote and Jason tidied things up at the office turning the career making case over to his partner. He had really wanted to defend his client, but he knew he’d made the right decision, Sydney came first.

The day of Sydney’s surgery arrived and she was full of trepidation. Jason and Sydney made the decision to have a mastectomy of her left breast. On the drive to the hospital thoughts of what she was going to look like after the surgery, the same thoughts that had invaded her mind over the last few days. They would also be inserting a skin expander in to stretch the remaining skin before they could place a silicone implant. They had explained that this would take some time, so she had gone to a specialty store and purchased a bra that she could place a fake breast in.

They took her into surgery performed the mastectomy and removed lymph nodes to ensure they came away with clear margins. Sydney woke up to Jason standing over her just watching. He was so scared that he was going to lose her and he just couldn’t imagine what life would be like without her, because she fit him like a glove. She was in a lot of pain, but managed to ask Jason if they got it all, he assured her that they had. After a couple of days in the hospital she was finally able to go home. She had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon the following day.

Jason got Sydney settled in bed and went down stairs to have a little time alone. He went into his office, closed the door and sat down on the couch and just let the tears come. He had been strong for her this entire time but now he couldn’t hold it back any longer. He cried until the tears just wouldn’t come anymore. He wasn’t sure how long he sat there staring off into space but he finally came to himself and knew that he’d better go check on Sydney. When he opened the bedroom door she was sleeping peacefully. He went back down stairs and began to prepare soup for dinner. He checked on Sydney throughout the day, giving her pain medication as needed and sometimes he would sit in the chair across from the bed and just watched her sleep. God he loved this woman, he would give anything to take all of this away from her. When she finally opened her eyes she smiled up at him. He came over to the bed bent down and told her how beautiful she was. She smiled up at him but inside she felt so damaged, so ugly and worried that Jason wouldn’t want to see her as she was now. She just didn’t understand how Jason could find her beautiful, because she sure didn’t feel that way.

They arrived at the surgeon’s office a few minutes early and waited. When they were called Sydney was shaking so hard she wasn’t sure she could walk. Jason just pulled her as close as he dared without hurting her and together they walked back to the examination room. Dr. Schultz came in to give them the results. Her cancer was stage two and he was referring her to an oncologist. They acknowledged what the doctor was saying, but it wasn’t really registering they were numb. Jason and Sydney thanked the doctor, stopped by the front desk to get her scheduled appointment with the oncologist. Neither of them said a word on the way home, they were lost in their own thoughts.

Sydney had a few days before her appointment with the oncologist, so she took the time to read and began journaling (something she hadn’t done in years). Jason had been so supportive trying to reassure her how beautiful she was to him, but she still wouldn’t let him see her. Sydney pulled her pajama top back and looked at the area where her breast use to be, she couldn’t stand the sight so, she quickly pulled it closed. No matter how hard she tried to believe what Jason was saying to her, the only thing she felt was that she was now damaged goods. Sydney wondered if she would ever feel beautiful again.

Over the next few days Sydney was despondent and Jason was beginning to worry about her. He tried reassuring her every way that he could think of. He would tell her how beautiful she was; he’d kiss her forehead, hug her and tell her how they were going to get through this together. It didn’t matter what he said nor did, he couldn’t get through to her. Jason was beginning to become desperate and so he called the Breast Cancer Foundation and found a support group for caregivers and went to a meeting. After talking to other caregivers he found renewed strength to keep reaching out to Sydney. Whether Sydney believed it or not Jason was going to be by her side.

Her appointment with the oncologist finally arrived and they discussed all of her options and decided to place a port in her upper chest area to receive chemotherapy. It was decided that she would have four cycles of chemo and then they would make any other decisions that were necessary after that. Her oncologist also shared with her that there were medications that they could give if she started experiencing nausea or fatigue. They left the doctor’s office feeling fairly optimistic. Sydney seemed in better spirits, so Jason suggested they stop and have lunch at their favorite little Italian restaurant, Sydney agreed.

Over the next week one day led into another and Jason was there for her giving her space when she needed it. Then there were times he’d just pull her into his lap and hold her. They were learning a new dance in this game of life and growing closer despite all that they were dealing with.

Sydney got up on Monday and began putting her kindle, journal and a few other things in her bag that would help pass the time while she was receiving her first chemo treatment. Jason had offered to stay with her, but she wanted to do this alone. Sydney told him to go into the office and get some work done. Sydney said, “I’ll call you when I’m done.” Jason dropped her off and headed to his office. He sat at his desk and dove right in, so when the phone rang he jumped, not realizing how involved in his work he’d been. It was Sydney and she was ready to be picked up. Jason put the briefs that he had been working on in his briefcase and headed out the door.

In the middle of the first cycle of chemo Sydney began to experience nausea and her hair began falling out. One day she was running her fingers through her hair when a fistful came out; she just sank to the bathroom floor and began crying. Jason arrived home to find her sitting on the bathroom floor just looking at the hair in her hand. He reached down scooped her up and sat her at the vanity. He then went to his drawer and pulled out a pair of clippers and began shaving his head. He saw Sydney’s reflection in the mirror, silent tears were sliding down her face as she watched this man she loved shaving his head turning the horrendous experience into a moment of deepening love. When he finished Sydney asked Jason to shave her head. Jason cleaned up the mess and took out his cell phone and took a picture and posted it on the social networking site they used. Under the picture he wrote, “This is my amazing and lovely wife.”

Jason and Sydney had settled into their new routine. They talked about the struggles, fears and their love for each other. When she was up to it they would go out to dinner or visit friends. They had decided along the way that they were going to live their lives and enjoy each day that they had together. After the fourth cycle of chemo was completed along with a battery of test the doctor told Sydney there were no signs of cancer and but they would continue to monitor her.

They left the doctor’s office and went straight to their travel agent, they were taking a trip. When they were seated in the travel agents office, Jason turned and asked Sydney where she wanted to go. Sydney looked Jason full in the face with a huge smile and said we are going to Greece. They left the office with their travel plans confirmed, they were leaving in two weeks. That would give them time to wrap things up at their offices. Jason and Sydney had decided that they were going to experience more life together.

write by Gerda