A lot happened between December 2000 and September 2011: middle school, high school, summer camp, boyfriends, proms, driver’s license, first job, traveling to Europe, going to university, sorority, internships…”the usual” for many girls.
I started September with a really positive attitude. I’d spent the summer in Europe, traveling around with my best friend and then taking classes at the University of Cambridge for a month. I returned to an exciting job as an Editorial Assistant at a web company in Santa Monica, a loving and genuinely fun boyfriend, and my parents’ new apartment right near the beach. Senior year at USC was about to start and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me.
My mom and I were driving to Costco to buy supplies for my upcoming Oktoberfest party when she mentioned that her usual yearly mammogram wasn’t so usual. There were some spots on her breast, but she said they were most likely harmless calcifications. She seemed nonchalant about the subject, so I didn’t think about it too much.
September 27th was a Tuesday, my day for classes. At the time I worked in Santa Monica about 30 hours a week and managed to schedule all of my necessary classes into one day. I was in ITP 411, Interactive Multimedia Production, when my mom called.
She left no voicemail, so I called her back when I got out of class around 1 pm. I was headed to a friend’s apartment for lunch.
“I got the results of my biopsy today. My breast cancer is back.”
felakfjewlfjel;waj 3249 vjaldsjafl jl;fjr9124012-4012 dakl;fjdal;fjl;ds jfalwejfeljaflewjflkewj; That was my reaction.
Everything she said after that was a blur. I choked back tears on the phone and eventually hung up. I had nothing to say to my mom at that point.
I was pissed. SO pissed. Mad. Angry. Livid. Whatever.
I spent an hour stewing at my friend’s apartment. She turned on an episode of Friends and I let a feeling of numbness take over. But after a while, I felt antsy. My next class started at 2 pm…there was no way I was going. I sent the following cryptic email to my professor:
I just wanted to let you know that I’m not going to ITP 300 today. My mom decided to call me right after ITP 411 to tell me some pretty shitty family news and I really don’t feel like staying around USC right now. Anyway I just thought you should know so that you don’t think I’m just skipping class for fun. This is a pretty awkward email so you don’t have to respond to it. Sorry. I’m not feeling very articulate right now. see you next week.
I walked home and jumped in my car. I know, I know–you’re not supposed to drive when you’re emotional. But what the hell was I supposed to do at USC?
I had told my boyfriend earlier in the day that I would drive out to see him after class, so I got on I-10 East and headed toward his house. As a sort of warning I sent him an even more cryptic text message:
My mom’s breast cancer is back. I don’t want to talk about it. Just letting you know.
If it had been my choice, I would not have told him. I would not have told anyone about it.
I drove and cried. Cried and drove. Screamed, yelled, cried. Snarled even. Drove.
Somewhere along the way, the song “Walk” by the Foo Fighters came on the radio. Dave Grohl is speaking to me in this song, I thought to myself:
A million miles away
Your signal in the distance
To whom it may concern
I think I lost my way
Getting good at starting over
Every time that I return
I’m learning to walk again
I believe I’ve waited long enough
Where do I begin?
I’m learning to talk again
Can’t you see I’ve waited long enough?
Where do I begin?
The song “Walk,” besides helping the Foo Fighters to win Best Rock Song at the Grammy Awards, would become my anthem for the next few months. September had suddenly taken a very, very bad turn.