The day that turned my life upside down: Diagnoses Day
Back in 2016
I was a confident-sun kissed-blue-eyed-twenty-three-year-old who thought there were no limits to life. I waited tables at a local brewery, worked for two magazines. I spent time enjoying our planet with my best pup companion. Lived on the top floor of a downtown apartment and fell in love with the goofball I call fiancé today.
I had a few stressful years prior to this and it finally felt like my life was coming together. Great relationship, money was good, and I was building a strong foundation for my “adult life”.
Then my health took a serious turn.
For most of the summer I was having nosebleeds almost every time I got in the shower. I did not think much of it. I live in the south where pollen is a THING and my allergies would always act up. I thought the nose bleeds were just a part of that. Nope I was so wrong.
Once September hit I began to bruise, ALL OVER, with barely being touched. I became so exhausted where if I wasn’t working I was sleeping. My family and work began to see all these symptoms set in and became concerned enough to get my stubborn butt to a doctor.
What a good decision that was.
I can remember the scene perfectly. Sitting at my family physician’s office staring at a picture of a mallard duck. The thought running around my head, “ this is not the place to get any serious news”once again SO WRONG. My mom came in? Random? Then the doctor, after we exchanged hellos she dropped the bomb.
“You have Leukemia.”
What? Like isn’t that cancer? How and what?! So many thoughts rushed in as I stare at the tear my mom is holding back. And what was my greater concern? I have to close tomorrow night. I have to work an event this weekend. OMG Matthew is going to leave me once I tell him.
I had no idea what an up and down journey I was about to embark on.
Funny enough, death never crossed my mind. I looked at my diagnoses the same way I would if it was a common cold. It will take time and medicine to treat but eventually I would be better.
My doctor’s appointment was about forty-five minutes from my house. I had plenty of time to repeatedly mutter inappropriate words and think about how I was going to tell everyone. I had lunch plans with Matthew that we never made it to, instead I walked through the front door, saw Matthew putting his shoes on and just ripped it like a band aid.
“So your probably not going to like this but I have Leukemia”
I have never seen shock before like I did when I told Matthew those twelve little words. We cried, packed our bags and headed to Chapel Hill. I remember we stopped at Panera because we never made it to lunch but neither of us could eat.
That two-and-a-half hour drive was one of the longest moments of my life. I had no expectations because I had know idea what was happening. I could not even tell you what Leukemia was at this point. After many missed turns we made it to the ER up at UNC where we met my mom.
We waited for hours and had multiple tubes of blood taken.
All I knew to do was stay positive and act like everything was fine. I felt like this was my job, my responsibility, to keep everyone else in high spirits.
I did not want to be a burden.
My dad flew in from work, and can we just say this was on the day before his birthday. Talk about the worst timing. I can’t imagine the worry that took over him. Now that I am a parent I would be completely destroyed if anything happened to my daughter. It only gives me so much more appreciation that I did not know could even exist.
We received the confirmation that this illness was indeed leukemia.
AML to be exact, and it had taken over nearly 90% of my body. I had been living with this disease for months going completely unnoticed.
We were moved to a corner room on 4ONC. It was past midnight and the four of us were out of our minds with exhaustion. Matthew and I shared the hospital bed, while my parents shared the couch next to the window in our room. We just wanted the night(mare) to be over but it was just beginning.