24 hours.

cropped-9ea272b9-26e5-4ee8-951f-c631d3b50f88.jpegAs I get older time moves faster. The years, months, and days speed exponentially. What seemed like yesterday was in reality long ago. December 19, 2019 the clock ceased ticking. Two months ago a phone call made time stand still. The past 8 weeks took 2 years. For 56 days I was stuck in slow motion. For 1,344 hours one word was on my mind: cancer.

24 hours till my bilateral mastectomy.

My story begins December 18 with a left breast biopsy. Other than the discomfort of the procedure, I wasn’t overly concerned. For the past 9 years I have had my mammograms, sometimes twice a year. I’ve even had a couple of biopsies in the left breast leaving me with the cutest titanium ribbons to notate a baseline. I’m told I have dense tissue and they should have my results in a week.

December 19, I’m in the classroom. Winter break starts the next day and the students were full of sugar and anticipation. Complete chaos. My phone rings. Odd, I don’t use my phone while at school, It’s never on or even near me, I should just ignore it. But it continues to ring.

Compelled, I step into the hallway and answer. The seemingly distant voice says “pathology, pen, paper”. My face flushes as I think: it’s not even 24 hours past the biopsy. My call is interrupted by a student who hands me a Christmas Present and reaches for a hug. I return to the phone call and write down a number. A class walks by, “Hi Mrs. Hockaday“, “I love your Santa sweater Mrs. Hockaday”, “Look at the book I checked out Mrs. Hockaday”. Back to the phone call I scribble down words like lobular, invasive, ductal, and carcinoma. I start to repeat the phone number back…The Grinch tickled me as she walked through the hallway. “Merry Christmas Grinch”, I reply…

I had questions for the person on the phone. I had lots of questions but I didn’t know what those questions were. With that I pushed the notes deep into my pocket and returned to the classroom welcoming the distracting chaos.

The day continues painfully slow. That word in my head repeats over again; cancer. A decade passes till dismissal.

That evening I hand the note to my husband Bobby. He can’t decipher my scratching and not only is it too late to call, I wrote the number down wrong. My appointment is December 26. I wait to ask my questions. We decide to keep the information to ourselves till after the Holidays, “to not worry till we know more, focus on Christmas with friends and family.” Easier said than done.

Now, 24 hours before surgery with just enough time to pack my bag, and hug my boys I reflect on ”the wait”. As tough and tedious it was…scared, angry, anxious, sleepless nights, and lots of tears…I realize the wait is part of the process that got me to today; ready.

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