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Founded by a daughter who’s been there, Daughters Like Us is an online resource center and community of support for women caring for their loved ones with cancer. Daughters Like Us strives to make cancer manageable through truth, love, connection and support.

Angela's story: Time to face the doctor

Angela's story: Time to face the doctor

It’d been three days since mom told me she had cancer.

Three days of cancer.

cancer. Cancer. CANCER.

Three days of questions.

cancer. Cancer. CANCER.

Three days of Google searching.

cancer. Cancer. CANCER.

Three days of waiting.

“Do you know the stage?” I asked three days earlier.

Aggressive. Stage II. Or maybe three.

She couldn’t be sure.

“Will you need chemo?”

Please say no. Please say no. Please say no.

“Yes,” she said. “That I do know. Yes.”

No. No. No.

Time to prepare

Three days later, I prepared for my mother’s first doctor appointment.

cancer. Cancer. CANCER

I spent the entire day in journalist mode. Notebook. Pen. Computer. Google. Food? No thanks.

cancer. Cancer. CANCER

Type. Type. Type.

Write. Write. Write.

With laser focus, I scribbled onto the pages of a spiral notebook. The kind mom would buy me for school each September. Who would’ve thought I’d someday be using it for this.

I scoured dozens upon dozens of cancer-related sites.

What’s the stage? Recommended treatment? Chances of survival?

I wrote the recommended questions in my notebook.

I’d be prepared. I’d have questions answered.

Time to meet the doctor

I grabbed the notebook from the backseat of my car.

Mom rolled her eyes.

“You’re not serious. Let him do his job, Angela.”

I clutched the notebook tightly under my arm.

I had a job to do, too.

Aunt Lisa came with us. Bring a couple of trusted loved ones to an appointment like this, I had written in my notebook. With nerves running wild, it’s easy to miss important details, I’d read.

The room was dimly lit.

Cancer by candlelight?

Mom sat on an exam table. Aunt Lisa sat to her left in a chair against the wall.

The doctor entered and began examining my mother. In front of us.

I pulled my chair closer to him.

Together, we formed a circle.

Time for answers

“The cancer is in your breast and your lymph nodes,” the doctor began, looking at my mother.

I flinched. My eyes moved fiercely across my notebook.

“Lymph nodes, too?” I asked shocked.

“Yes,” he said, finally turning toward me. “It’s common for breast cancer cases to advance into the lymph nodes and that’s what’s begun to happen here. That’s why we need to start chemo immediately.”

I needed water.

“What stage is mom’s case?”

I clutched my notebook.

“Two going into three,” he said.

I clutched harder.

On to question number two.

“What’s your recommended course of action?”

“I want to do chemo first since this is an aggressive case,” he said. “We’ll shrink the tumor and make it tiny. Right now, it’s about the size of a peach pit. Once that’s done, we’ll have it surgically removed. The chemo will also hopefully get rid of the cancer in the lymph nodes.”

Hopefully? It better.

I needed water.

“Are the chances of ... survival ... high?”

I barely formed the words. The notebook's metal rings dug into my skin. 

“Yes.”

He replied quickly.

I relaxed my grip. 

“Your mom has a common case. No cancer is good. But this is a case that we often see and is very treatable if we follow the method I’m recommending. Again, there’s no good cancer, but if you have cancer, this is certainly a better case to have.”

I closed my notebook.

“Mom, do you have any questions?”

She stared ahead, unblinking.

“I’m good,” she finally responded.

“What’s our next step?” I asked, noticing the darkness of the room again.

Turn a light on.

“We set up an appointment with an oncologist and get chemotherapy started immediately. As I said, the cancer is aggressive. I don’t want to wait.”

I opened my notebook.

I took the doctor’s card.

We walked out of the office.

“I’ll be calling you,” I said. I shook his hand.

“I have no doubt,” he said, adding he felt like he’d just been through an interview on 20/20.

Job done. 

Angela's story: Facing chemo with mom

Angela's story: Facing chemo with mom

Angela's story: My mom has cancer

Angela's story: My mom has cancer