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Posted by on Mar 1, 2010 in Breast Cancer, Firsts, Spring 2010 | 0 comments

My Marmoirs: The True Story of a Head on a Stick

Trials & Tribulations: Beating the Odds

My Marmoirs: The True Story of a Head on a Stick

Marcie Nolans, author of My Marmoirs

Marcie Nolan after completing the 2008 Halifax Weekend to End Breast Cancer

A Year-Long Journey to Beat Breast Cancer.
A modified excerpt from the Prologue (In the beginning…) and Chapter 1/Finding the Lump (I did not see that coming).*

I never ever answer my phone. Ask anyone who knows me. Never. My friends already have their voice mail messages composed in their heads while my phone is ringing. I love people; I just can’t talk to them on the phone. I’ve often wondered what it is about the phone ringing that makes my heart race and my upper lip perspire. Well, on April 28, 2005, I got my answer. Or a damn good theory, at least.

I was thirty-two years old, seven months pregnant with my second child, and my daughter, Bryn, was two and a half years old. My husband loved me and I adored him. We had recently bought our first house; a beautiful house in a great neighbourhood. We even had a cozy little fenced backyard full of lovely plants, flowers, and enough room for our kids to run around. I taught French as a Second Language at an elementary school. I had a close group of friends. Life was good. Really, really good. And then I answered my stinking phone.

“Marcie? It’s Dr. MacGillivray calling. Who’s there with you right now?”

Have you ever been really scared? So scared you couldn’t speak? Have you ever felt so terrified that it seemed as though there was a lump in your throat? A big one? Me too, only it started in my right breast. The lump, I mean. Months later, as I listened to my doctor tell me news that would change my life forever, that lump moved into my throat.
My Marmoirs Cover

Here’s a lovely image for you: me, in the shower, in all my five-months-pregnant glory.
As I absentmindedly soaped up my armpit (there’s another, even better, image for you), I distinctly remember the feeling of terror. The feeling of a large, hard lump in my right breast. Not the kind of lump you’d have to fish around for. Not the kind that you feel and say to yourself, “Hmm, that’s odd. It’s probably nothing”. It was the kind of lump that sends a chill down your spine because suddenly you know. You may not even know yet what it is that you know, but you are certain of something.

At that moment in time, I pushed my gut feeling deep, deep down and began reasoning with myself. It’s amazing what we’re willing to believe, even from ourselves, when we really want to. That day, I called my family doctor, met with him and he quickly opted to send me for a series of tests, including a breast ultrasound (since a mammogram was out of the question for a pregnant woman), a needle biopsy, and a core biopsy.
Driving home from that first doctor’s appointment, I remember thinking to myself how much better I felt. I had been proactive, had gone to see my doctor right away, and we were taking action. Much better than assuming it was nothing (even though it was definitely nothing). It’s nice to be taken seriously. Even though it was nothing (did I mention that already?). So, my denial ran deep. What can I say?

“Marcie? It’s Dr. MacGillivray calling. Who’s there with you right now?”

I hung up the phone, stunned. My shaking body was reacting to the news that I had breast cancer, but my brain was not. Not yet.

I don’t recall most of what that fateful phone conversation entailed, but I do know that, as I held the receiver to my ear, I believed that my life would never be the same. And I was right.

Marcie Nolan is a Writing Consultant for the Centre for Students with Disabilities at the University of Guelph. We continue with Marcie’s story in the next issue of Powerful Women Magazine and learn how she managed to cope with every day challenges in the work place while battling breast cancer. Read it here.

Page 19, Spring 2010

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