It was early August 2012. We were on our way to the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library. The brilliant Florida sun was shining through the windshield of my parents’ sedan and my two girls were giggling in the backseat. They were excited to be in Tampa and looking forward to three fun-filled weeks with the grandparents. I, in turn, was looking forward to three uninterrupted weeks to work on my Ph.D. prelim exams back in Corvallis. Before my return to Oregon though, I had decided that we should check out a carload of books and movies to keep the kids entertained and give the grandparents a break now and then.
We’d just pulled into the library parking lot when my cell phone rang. I shushed the girls and picked up the phone.
“Hathai? This is Dr. Bombeck. Your test results came in. Are you sitting down somewhere?”
…And thus began my unexpected breast cancer adventure.
It has now been a little over a year since I completed the treatment gauntlet of chemo, surgeries, and radiation. Life has slowly resumed a more or less normal pace- and from the outside at least, it looks like very little has changed. This past week, the girls and I returned to Tampa for yet another visit to the grandparents. All was going well when on one of our drives about town, I looked out the window just as we passed the library. Suddenly my stomach clenched and for a brief moment, I re-lived the feeling of dread that descended on me when I received Dr. Bombeck’s call two years before.
It was a reminder to me that despite all appearances, some things really had changed…mostly inside of me, and possibly forever.
Anyway, I don’t want this to be a blog about cancer. There are enough blogs out there on that topic, and honestly, I don’t want to dwell on it much, at least not in this format. I do, however, want to acknowledge that the experience plays a role in our decision to travel now, as a family. Where originally we thought we’d wait until I graduated to take advantage of Josh’s two-month Intel sabbatical, after two years of treatment and recovery, we found ourselves wondering, “Why should we wait?”
So we’re not.