Friday, September 10, 2010

Telling my daughter I have breast cancer

Title: "The Butterfly Bra"
Artist: Deetria S. Horne of 3dee Design
Telling your only child you have breast cancer is very difficult.

My daughter and I had always been very close and I knew she would be devastated. Of course, I wanted to protect her as long as I could.

 Therefore, it took me exactly seven days after I first learned I had a 98% chance of breast cancer. I spent the next week getting a needle biopsy, receiving the positive test results and visiting a surgeon to discuss my options. I wanted as much information as possible so I could tell her what to expect at the same time I shared this terrible news. I knew fear of the unknown would be the biggest challenge for my daughter and my family and knowing what to expect would help them cope.

When my daughter arrived for our dinner date that Friday evening I simply said I had something to tell her before we left for the restaurant. I explained that I had breast cancer and the look of fear, shock and devastation on her face broke my heart. I had resolved I would be strong so she could be strong. As she cried I hugged her. She immediately said she was moving in, which I discouraged and said that really was not necessary. After she saw I did not seem upset, she asked if I was going to be okay. I replied I would be better than okay and when this was all over I would be better than I was before.

I spent the next 3 weeks having multiple tests ran and preparing for surgery. There were moments of sadness and a surreal feeling of this could not possibly be happening to me. One day as I was sitting in the waiting area for a CT scan of the abdomen I was hit with a wave of sadness and it hit me again I have breast cancer! I called my best friend just to help talk me through that moment of sadness. I did not want to upset my daughter or my family. I knew they would want me to call, but I did not want the over protectiveness. Here I was sitting in the waiting area whispering on my cell phone and tears streaming down my face. I thought what a mess of a situation I am in. I asked to be moved to a private area until I could get through this moment and pull myself together. By the time I got off the phone, my best friend and I were laughing.

Deetria and Diann
Over the course of my treatment, my relationship with my daughter transformed as I did. There were many times my daughter was sad, but we were able to openly discuss her being afraid. The strength that I had during my treatment came from my belief in God. One of my favorite bible verses has always been about hope: “…rejoice in our suffering, suffering produces perseverance, perseverance – character and character hope…” Romans 5:3. My cancer journey gave new meaning to this verse as I focused on perseverance during the difficult moments of chemotherapy side effects. It gave me hope as I persevered knowing that I would get through the worst of it and would feel better in the next moment or the day.

My breast cancer journey helped my daughter see my transformation into a person who now filters everything through different lenses. I have a much better handle on work/home life balance. I feel blessed to have witnessed how much my daughter; family, friends and co-workers loved me. A lot of my inspiration came from my support system and God’s grace in allowing me the opportunity to experience their love while I am alive.

As a tribute to my transformation, my daughter the artist created “The Butterfly Bra” art piece for the Bra Art Competition at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth.

Diann Brown
Director of Health Information Services
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

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