I’m getting married on Sunday, and I still don’t know whether or not I should tell my family and friends about my early diagnosis of breast cancer. After all, the doctor hasn’t done all the tests yet, and it might not be breast cancer after all. A girl can hope, can’t she?
Questions flood my mind in the moments between tears. Dammit! I don’t have time for tears! I have a wedding to prepare for.
My fiancee and I talk about how to handle this. We decide we don’t want to tell anyone just yet. After all, we want tears of joy at our wedding, not tears of sorrow. We don’t want people crying over how “tragic” this is, on the happiest day of our lives.
But my mother knows I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and she is persistent when she asks me how it went. I tell her “We don’t know anything for sure yet, but I told the nurse that if it is bad news, I don’t want to know until after the wedding”.
Without batting an eye, my mother looks at me and says “Well of course, for legal reasons”. It took me a few moments to figure out what the heck she was talking about. Suddenly it dawns on me that she is implying that my wonderful husband-to-be probably won’t want to marry me if he knows I have breast cancer before the wedding! The horror of her implication sinks in, and I am shocked by it.
This moment is the first of what I am sure will be many moments I look back on as life’s little “lessons” in surviving this. I realize that her concern is based on her love for me, however misplaced her concerns may be. In that moment, she no longer sees me as beautiful, vibrant, in love with life, with a man who loves me in both sickness and in health. She sees me the way many people will soon see me, a woman who deserves pity rather than admiration, a woman who has “a disease” and is flawed in some way. She believes that in sickness, my wonderful fiancee may not be willing to take this path at my side, and that I may be more trouble than I’m worth.
I breathe slowly for a few moments, letting my immediate anger flow out of my body, concentrating on staying positive and understanding that she is worried about me and loves me.
And I walk away without saying a word.
This moment is a lesson I am sure will be repeated often in the coming months. Not everyone will know what to say, nor will everyone say the right things at the right times. The most important thing for me to remember is that for me to heal, I must remain closely focused on being positive, seeing the humor in everything, and finding my happy place to retreat to when I need peace and tranquility.
In fact, this moment reminds me of the importance of keeping this diagnosis just between us for a while, at least until after the wedding. Rather than burden our family and friends with knowing about my “condition”, Michel and I decide we will stay focused on our beautiful day, our wedding, the happiest day of our lives (so far) and we will wait to share our news until after the wedding and honeymoon.