For those of you who know me really well, you know I worry. Yes, I’m a worrier..I’ve accepted it and my close friends/family just roll with it – ha! When the pathology report kept dragging out, I’d started researching the worst – Ovarian Cancer – trying to prepare myself, so if I got the call telling me such, I’d be able to listen. Does that thought process work one might ask? Hell no, it doesn’t work! I don’t think you’re ever ready for news that you or a loved one have cancer. If you don’t have some kind of reaction, you’re not human. But I was able to hear what she was saying and ask for everything I could think of…including how bad is it (answer, in case you’d like to know “sweetie, it’s aggressive”). I had the report sent to my email and I knew what I needed to do next.
When my mother entered the house, I’m sure she knew by the look on my face – I told her I had Ovarian Cancer, she flipped out, which is to be expected, and I told her I couldn’t take care of both her and myself right now. I needed for her to figure out what she needed and I needed time. I called her friend, Sonya, and asked her to come over to support my mother because I could not.
My first call was to a friend, a little younger than I am, who is a three-time cancer survivor. Anne is the wife of one of my co-workers whom I became close with during a campaign I managed at work with the St. Louis Blues – strange enough the campaign was for their 2016 Hockey Fights Cancer initiative and Anne was the featured survivor UMB (company I work for) had selected. Okay, I’ll be honest, I didn’t just call her…when she didn’t answer, I group texted both Anne and Chris…in typical “me” fashion, I went a little over board!
The next 1.5 hours went like this – Anne got back to me and I told her what I’d found out, trying not to cry so she’d be able to understand what I was saying. I knew where I wanted to be, Siteman Cancer Center, here in St. Louis. My first question to Anne was, how do I get an appointment, my doctor doesn’t know anyone there to refer me to? What I didn’t know at the time was that Anne sits on a patient advisory board with one of the doctor’s from the Gynecological Oncology team, Dr. Andrea Hagemann. I didn’t even have to ask – “I’m going to call her office and leave a message and email her”. While Anne was doing that, we’d decided I would call the office to at least get my name on the books – first thing I could get was 2 weeks out. Anne received a response within no time, asking for my contact information and that Dr. Hagemann would see me on Monday afternoon and her team would be contacting me (it was a Thurday afternoon). I went from 2 weeks out, to two business days later having an appointment. I forwarded what information I had and their team started reviewing everything for my upcoming appointment.
I can never thank Anne enough for the manner in which she handled my call – Chris and Anne both knew I had a pathology report I was waiting for and that there was a chance it wouldn’t be good, so they’d been checking in. She was calm, reassuring and positive during the entire process. Although she may not have known exactly what to do, one would have never known. She spent time walking me through what the appointment could possibly look like from her experience, and gave me an idea of what to expect. Anne had prepared me for what I was up for and I’ll be forever grateful to her.
Once the appointment was set, I walked out to inform my mother (and father who had by now made his way to my house) of what was going on, who we were seeing and when. They compared notes to what other doctors from other states had recommended and Dr. Hagemann was on the team everyone had suggested.
I had 30 minutes to pull not only myself together, but my mom, dad and Sonya, because my children would be coming home from school and I didn’t want them to recognize something might be wrong.
I know the question you’re all wondering — you didn’t call anyone, you didn’t tell anyone during that time period? The answer is yes, yes I did. I made the phone calls necessary in order to get my “people” informed so I had support…to be honest, it’s one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do…inform someone that you have cancer.