It feels like it was a lifetime ago when I received the first copy of my book in the mail. After over 2 years of agonizing early mornings and late nights, the story of my journey with breast cancer was out there for all of my family, friends, and the few other people who have stumbled across it, to read.
I'm so grateful for every ounce of love and support that people have given me. I wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but then the Lord would send a tender mercy in the form of the inspiration I needed to overcome writer's block, someone telling me that they couldn't wait to read my story because they needed help with a trial they were facing, or just the knowledge that I knew this was something I needed to do.
In February 2016, I was finally able to share my story in book form and had two amazing book signing events. The memory from those nights I will cherish forever. It was so much fun. (Click here and here to see the pictures from those fun nights.)
Why the walk down memory lane?
Why the walk down memory lane, you may be wondering? Well, I have gone radio silent about my book for a long time now. I just felt like the only people that were seeing any of my obnoxious posts about it already knew about it and were probably like, "Ya. We get it. You wrote a book. Move on with your life."
I was never able to break out of my own little realm in social media to really get my book out there, which is fine. It was disheartening and frustrating for a long time, but life goes on and I am over it. I have said from the start that writing this book was never about making money or becoming well-known or anything like that. My only desire has ever been to get this book into the hands of those who may need a boost of inspiration to help get them through a tough trial. It took me a while to get to the point where I could say, "Maybe everyone who has needed to read it has read it for now."
So life has gone on. I have gone back to school and started a part-time job which leaves me very little time to write blog posts...which I miss terribly. But lately I have been thinking that maybe I should start posting excerpts from my book on my blog. It would be very easy for me to copy and paste, and as long as I keep the rambling before the posts to a minimum (already failed there), it should be a fairly simple thing to do.
Why post excerpts from my book?
Chapter One: 8-19-11
August 19, 2011, started out beautifully. I watched with excitement, nervousness, and a little bit of sadness as my oldest child, Josh, got ready for his first day of junior high school. How did he get so big? I could remember him toddling around on chubby little legs learning how to walk. Now I had to drop him off at the junior high so he could learn to walk through the seemingly endless supply of hallways and staircases there.
We pulled up to the school and after kissing his mother on the cheek, he jumped out of the car. With confidence and excitement oozing from every ounce of his 7th grade body, he strode off without even so much as a glance back in my direction. I suppose I had no need to be nervous. He was ready for the challenge.
My girls still had a few days before their school would begin. We had plans that day to enjoy the last of our summer freedom. Those plans included a figure skating lesson for Emma, and after looking at our bare cupboards, a trip to Costco as well.
After Emma's lesson, we were piling into the van when my phone started to ring. I was expecting a phone call from the Women's Center at St. Mark's Hospital because I had gone in for a biopsy the day before. I knew that this would be the call to tell me that the tissue from the lump in my right breast had been tested and the results were exactly what we thought they would be; it was just a fibrous mass and nothing else.
"Hello?" I said as I was juggling my phone, my purse, and attempting to buckle Ellie into her car seat.
"Hello?" Is this Desirae?" asked a kind, yet businesslike voice.
"Yes, this is she."
"Hi, Desirae. This is Dr. O'Neill. We got the results back from your biopsy and I am very sorry to say that things do not look good. I hate to
tell you this over the phone, but there were some cancer cells that showed up. I'm very sorry." (There was silence on my end for what felt like an eternity as my brain tried to process this information.) "Really. Wow," is what I finally choked out.
Have you ever wondered what you might do or say if you are told you have cancer? I have thought about it on occasion, but it was nothing that I pondered too deeply about. Cancer was something that happened to other people, not to me. I didn't have time for cancer in my busy life. I had groceries to buy, kids to cart around, and a life to live. I simply could not add cancer to my plate, so I got in my car and started driving. Maybe I was hoping that I could drive away from this stunning turn of events.
While I was driving, Dr. O'Neill was still talking away in my ear. I was hearing words like "MRI", "Grade 2 Cancer", "Surgeon", and a million other things. Why didn't I pull over and start writing these things down? Because I was in shock and avoidance mode, that's why.
With Dr. O'Neill still talking in one ear and my girls asking me, "Mom, what's wrong?" in the other, I knew that I needed only one thing- my husband. I needed him to wrap his arms around me and hug me tight. I also needed to hear him say that everything was going to be all right. Suddenly my driving had a purpose and that was to get to his office as quickly as I could.
Now that I was headed in the right direction, I could concentrate a bit more on the conversation with Dr. O'Neill.
"I will call Dr. Mainwaring to discuss some things with her. I will also arrange for you to come in for an MRI tonight. I will get back to you soon," she said.
I tossed my phone on the passenger seat and tried to keep my wits about me. I did not want to start crying while I was driving. The tears stayed in check until I pulled up to Mark's work. That was when the dam broke and I couldn't hold them in any longer. I could sense my girls'
nervousness increase when they saw the tears rolling down my cheeks. I told them, "It's okay. Everything is okay. I just need to talk to Daddy for a minute."
I called Mark and told him that I was sitting in the parking lot and that I needed to see him right away. When I saw him through the glass doors of his office building, I flung my car door open and ran to meet him. I tried to form the right words to say while the tears rolled down my cheeks. "They found cancer. They found cancer," I kept saying over and over again. I was trying to remember everything that Dr. O'Neill had told me, but it was all a jumbled mess in my brain. I know that Mark must have felt overwhelmed with the scene before him. He had his sobbing wife clinging to him and shouting the word "cancer" over and over again. The faces of his three bewildered girls were pressed against the van windows; the looks of fear and confusion clearly present. They were trying to make sense of what was happening to their crazy mother.
I am sure that he was also trying to find the right words to say. With this scene laid out before him, he did exactly what I needed him to do. He hugged me and told me not to worry. He said that we would just take things one at a time and figure it all out. We hugged for a long time. His embrace was rejuvenating. I did not want to let him go because I felt safe in his hug and I knew that as soon as I let him go, I would have to face this new horror head on.
Eventually, we stopped hugging and I was able to gain some composure. I wiped the tears away and told him that I would let him know when I heard back from the doctor. Then I sent him back to work, holding this new information like one would hold a porcupine- not quite sure of how to handle it. Finally, I got back into the van and the girls and I were off to Costco because I didn't have time to deal with cancer and we needed groceries.
And just like that, Chapter One is over. Stay tuned for more excerpts soon!
I am loving my second chance at life.
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Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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