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Tuesday
Aug142012

It was a Sunday morning...

Editor's Note: We are honored to have A.W. Gryphon share her story of diagnosis with us.
Allison W. Gryphon is an Author, Filmmaker, Creator of The Why? Foundation and a Breast Cancer Survivor. You can also find her on facebook >>


It was a Sunday morning. I’d been up early for a pilates class and I was just out of the shower. I had brunch with my friend Joaquim and a matinée with my standing weekend movie buddy, Elissa.

Getting dressed, I went to put my bra on and it didn’t quite fit right. I re-adjusted and then I froze. I was standing in front of my closet in a small room that suddenly seemed massive and empty… and painfully quiet. I think when someone feels a lump for the first time and they know in their gut what it is, the world does truly stop spinning, just for a moment. Just long enough for you to hear your own heart beating, to feel what it means to take a breath and to know not only the full weight of your body, but of your being.

It was Sunday morning so there were no doctors to call or appointments to be had. It would be something to be taken care of the next day. Everything would change. I knew that. So I got myself dressed and went out for a lovely brunch with Joaquim then off to see Julian Schnabel’s new movie with Elissa. I said nothing to my friends and it was a wonderful. The presence of the lump was never far from my thoughts, but I wanted a day of love and friendship, not fear and concern.

My Monday began with a trip to an Urgent Care Clinic, the fastest way I could get the referral for a mammogram. I was at a highly recommended breast center at 7am Tuesday morning. First there was the mammogram, during which the technician suggested we take a few extra views for the doctor, then came the ultra sound, then the doctor, then the second ultra sound and then the smile. That smile of hope and encouragement and knowing how much trouble I was in that I will never forget. “We’re going to do a needle biopsy.” The wonderful doctor said kindly taking my hand and meeting my eyes to hers.

I don’t know how to describe what was going through my head at that moment. Everything. Nothing. I knew what it was and I knew it was happening, but I hadn’t connected those thoughts. It was like I was watching a movie, but it was me.

The following day, I went to work. I went to normal. That’s what I needed to do. Just before lunch my phone rang. It was the same lovely doctor who’d done the needle biopsy the day before. “We were all pulling for you.” She said… And then she told me what I already knew was coming.

It’s one thing to know what’s coming, it’s another matter all together to hear someone say it out loud. Someone you don’t know, but who in one instant will have changed your life forever. I know that what followed were words of support and encouragement. I don’t remember them. I do remember hanging up the phone and looking at the buttons, not quite sure what to do with them. The room was heavy and there were people on the other side of my closed door waiting. People who had assured me that everything would be ok, not just for me, but for themselves. There were friends, colleagues, people I cared about and people I didn’t know out there. Everyone who the explosion was going to hit once I opened the door.

It took almost a half hour. I looked at the door for a long time. It was real for me, but once I opened that door it would be real outside of that room.

The first person I saw was Jude. She was sitting in a chair right outside wide-eyed and steady. I’m not sure if they were all there already or if they heard me come over, but within a moment Shannon, Mary Beth and Jackie were looking back at me amongst a busy office full of people who were about to find out.

I don’t know if the assault of the cancer on me or of the news on everyone else was more jarring. What I do know is that’s the day where I found out what I was made of and when I found out who all of the people on the other side of that door really were.

It was the most devastating and beautiful day of my life. And that is how my battle with stage IIIa breast cancer began on Wednesday April 13, 2011.

Reader Comments (10)

Thank you for sharing your story.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Yes, thank you for sharing your story. My husband is at the end of life treatment, enrolled in Hospice and I still remember vividly the first time I heard the word cancer.

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Hile

The most perfect of words where you mention everything and nothing was going through your head at time of diagnosis. This really sums up what I hear so many of my patients say. Thank you for sharing.

The bravery and strength inside of a woman are rarely ever measured, but that is because they are so often found to be beyond measure... My thoughts and prayers are with you...

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I just completed chemotherapy after a masectomy and some lymph removal on my underarm. The breast surgery became infected and had to be reopened and is still closing after 10 months. My question is that I am curious about RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY. What is your opinion. Is it worth the massive procedure and pain? Did the reconstruction meet your expectations. Are you comfortable. What is the "upkeep"? From the little I can attain I opt for silicone, but that is all I have read from anyone so far.

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy, Rochester

Thanks for your question. Andrea Potter, our breast cancer patient navigator will respond to you very soon.

Reconstructive surgery is a common dilemma that many women face when diagnosed with breast cancer. I always recommend patients have a consult with a plastic surgeon before making any assumptions of the process.

There are many different options in reconstructive surgery. The cancer's location, size, and other factors determine what options will work for you. Once you have had that consult, take time to process the information you have been given. Think of the steps that it may involve, verify with your insurance coverage details, review your work schedule for planning, and be certain your general surgeon is involved and aware of any decisions you make.

Last, consider seeing a psychologist or oncology social worker to dive into your feelings surrounding reconstruction. We have all of these and more resources in Thurston County available to you.

Please contact me at provcancer@providence.org if you would like to further discuss.

January 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterAndrea Potter, CBPN-IC

Hello,

I hope all is well. I wanted to let you know about this great resource Healthline has about breast cancer. The resource includes a virtual tour on understanding the progression of breast cancer, from where it starts to how it affects the body.

You can see the guide here: http://www.healthline.com/breast-cancer/anatomy-animations#1/breast-cancer-where-it-starts

I thought this would be a great resource for your site and wanted to see if you could include it on your page: http://provcancer.squarespace.com/blog/2012/8/14/it-was-a-sunday-morning.html

Please let me know if this would be possible. I’m happy to answer any questions as well.

Thanks so much,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
www.healthline.com | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

About Us: corp.healthline.com

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Danhakl

Hello,

I hope all is well. I wanted to let you know about this great resource Healthline has about breast cancer. The resource includes a virtual tour on understanding the progression of breast cancer, from where it starts to how it affects the body.

You can see the guide here: http://www.healthline.com/breast-cancer/anatomy-animations#1/breast-cancer-where-it-starts

I thought this would be a great resource for your site and wanted to see if you could include it on your page: http://provcancer.squarespace.com/blog/2012/8/14/it-was-a-sunday-morning.html

Please let me know if this would be possible. I’m happy to answer any questions as well.

Thanks so much,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
www.healthline.com | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

About Us: corp.healthline.com

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Danhakl

I have also seen people with same problem, but they all are well and living healthy.

March 4, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter Adam Davis

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