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First mammogram.
Abnormal.
Need a biopsy.
The wait is excruciating.
Cell phone rings.
“You have cancer.”
Are you sure?
Exercise 5 days a week.
Eat all the right foods.
No family history.
Deep breath – “I have cancer.”
Ductal carcinoma in situ
Call family. First time to verbally say it out loud.
“Don’t cry mom, but I have cancer.”
Call a few friends – Like a recording, I now keep hitting repeat – “I have cancer.”
Everyone cries.
I do not have a tear to shed.
I am angry. How did this happen?
In an instant, everything has changed.
Two dear friends insist on going out for ice cream.
What else is there to do a half hour after finding out your life has turned upside down?
Shall we be sad? Not even sure at this point, but, in the back of mind, all I can think of is …
“Okay, world, bring it on.”
Sitting at a picnic table at the local ice cream shop – the place that I brought hundreds of students to listen to their stories – now I need someone to listen to mine.
I just want the cancer out of me.
How long has it been there, and how did it get there?
This morning I went to the gym. I was healthy. Hours later I will forever have a new label attached to my name.
I always thought titles should be earned, not given.
I earned a Ph.D. but not the title cancer patient.
Doctor’s appointments in the early morning to avoid anyone knowing “I have cancer.”
More doctor’s appointments – It is all a blur.
Friends sit through appointments, take notes, and ask good questions.
Second opinion – Are you sure I have cancer?
Research, research, research.
Pull strength from family and friends.
It will all be okay.
Make decision regarding surgery.
For me it was a quick decision, and I did not waver.
I am not doing this again. Not in 10 years. Not in 20. Not ever.
Feeling in control again.
Surgery goes well.
24 hours later released from the hospital.
19 hours later back to the ER with a high fever.
Three more days in the hospital.
20 hours after being released from the hospital, I am not doing so well. I have an infection.
Back to the ER.
Five more days in the hospital.
Nothing feels right.
Six weeks later. Infection shows itself again.
Emergency surgery on a Friday night.
Here we go again.
24 hours in the hospital.
All is stable.
Body begins to heal.
Seven months later – Surgery #3 goes well.
Another seven months later – surgery #4 occurs
And finally this chapter of surgery and hospital visits is closed
And yet, in many ways this journey has just begun


Items That Made My Countless Doctor’s Visits a Bit More Enjoyable

TOMS Shoes

Anything that sparkles, makes me happy. These shoes made it to many doctor’s appointments.

Kate Spade "Look on the Bright Side"
t-shirt

As I walked through the hospital with this shirt on, I saw lots of gloomy expressions turn into smiles.

Bright Pink Nailpolish

The little things matter, especially when you’re not feeling so great.

Cupcakes

I am cupcake obsessed. Eating a cupcake after visiting the doctor was a small reward for making it through another appointment. Red Velvet Georgetown Cupcakes are my favorite.

My Books

Some of my favorite books kept me motivated. Seth Godin is an inspiration.

Fun jewlery

The reality is those hospital gowns are simply not cute. Fun jewlery was a must.