The Small Acts Of Kindness That Gave Me Hope
“I’m scared” was the only thing I could muster to say when the lady sitting next to me asked how I was doing. She reached out for my hand and said everything was going to be alright. She asked which doctor I was seeing, and when I said the name she reassured me that I was in good hands – she knows this by experience. At that point, I didn’t know that I had breast cancer yet.
She then proceeded to say what lay ahead were trying times, but with the love and support of family and friends, I will get through it. It was like she was foretelling the future. For the first couple of weeks after diagnosis, I would always go back and find comfort in this conversation.
This conversation was my first visit to the breast clinic, exactly two weeks after my family doctor confirmed that there was something odd with my left breast. She sent me immediately to the breast specialists. That was the eve of my 41st birthday. Exactly a week later, I heard the three words that would forever change my life – “You have cancer.” The world melted away. It felt like I lost control of life.
The weeks following were a flurry of researching about the disease, battling with emotions and the numerous tests and decision points that had to be undertaken. In the most trying of times though it was like the universe sent me angels to either give me signs of hope or remove roadblocks and clear the way. Here are a few of the examples during my first few months after my breast cancer diagnosis.
One of my closest friends lives in the Philippines, but she was with me since I noticed the changes in my breast and was the first to know. My date of diagnosis, May 15th, was the date when she was declared NED in 2016. She has and continues to be a tremendous support in this journey.
The pharmacy team at the hospital moved swiftly in the background to work with my private insurance to ensure I would be able to get the injections that would boost my white blood cell count during chemo and Herceptin. Luckily both were covered.
Before starting chemo, I needed an echocardiogram since I’m Her2 Positive. When the receptionist saw my surgeon’s name, she told me my doctor worked in the hospital for 20 years and that she was the best. It was this reassurance that might seem small but it meant the world to me during a time that my world was reeling.
I started chemo exactly a week and a half after being diagnosed. At that same time, the pipes in my condo unit had to be replaced, which meant not having access to my home after my first chemo treatment. After explaining the situation to property management, my unit was bumped to top priority and they made sure that after chemo I could go home and rest.
Initially, genetic testing was slow. I posted a comment seeking advice on how to expedite things on the Rethink Facebook page. A fellow Rethinker reached out to me privately and helped me connect with a genetic councillor she was about to see. Testing was completed a few days after and results came back negative a week later.
It was all these little positive events and small wins that made me see the good in this cancer journey. True, it was and still is sometimes the darkest of times. True, you realize how little control you really have over life. But the universe sends you angels and gives you signs of kindness and hope. – Kristine Bustamante