The Hard Truth About December in the Breast Cancer Cosmos

It's December 2020. I just realized that I was "unofficially" diagnosed nine years ago ... a few days ago. Yes, ladies, you really DO start to forget all those "cancerversaries" eventually.

Nine years ago, I found the lump when I was soaped up in the shower in a hotel in Texas. We had traveled from Arizona for a wedding, and as soon as my hand hit the lower part of my breast, I knew. Crap. I KNEW. I had lost some weight in those months prior to finding The Beast, and the loss of fatty tissue in my breast allowed the lump to finally be found. No family history. But I KNEW.

It took me about three weeks to find the nerve to get imaged. I was in denial, but I finally told a dear friend who I KNEW would kick my butt into high gear. And she did. 

I went to the imaging center and was shocked when Hubby showed up to hang out with me. In over 20 years of marriage, he had never been one who was "friendly" with anything medical. In fact, early in our marriage, he would walk into the living room when I was watching that popular TV show "ER," look at the screen, say, "Ewwwwwww!" and instantly turn on his heel to retreat. So showing up to this appointment without an invitation was a BIG deal. 

The tech did the ultrasound, and even though we were looking at the screen, we had no idea what we were looking at. Soon the radiologist came in, did a bit more with the ultrasound, and then looked at me and said, "OK, we're going to send the results to your doctor, but I just want you to know you're not going to have a very good year coming up."

There it was. A non-diagnosis diagnosis. But I'll always be grateful he said that. 

I didn't "officially" get a diagnosis until I got a phone call from my doctor on January 4. A full month since my imaging and "unofficial" diagnosis. Thirty-some days since I KNEW I had CANCER. I made it through. But it wasn't an easy start.

I need to share a hard truth with those of you who have been diagnosed around this time of the year. The world of medicine slows down, day by day, minute by minute, in December. The folks in the medical community that so selflessly serve all of us take time off, and those left to work are usually doing double duty. Getting appointments for anything that isn't urgent just doesn't happen easily. Eventually, later in the month of December, there's only enough bandwidth to get the critical things taken care of. 

And since this is 2020 and the virus has been wickedly spreading again, my guess is that it will be an especially hard time to get appointments for anything ... labs, imaging, consults. I can't imagine that many will be scheduled for any surgeries except life-saving ones. 

I've served thousands of women with breast cancer for the last nine years, and it's the same every single year. Don't fret. Take a deep breath ... or two ... or three! January is coming, and things ramp up just as quickly in January as they grind down in December. Every. Single. Year. 


Written with love by Jan James, Hope After Breast Cancer

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