It is December 2006. I remember it as a very warm month, despite it being in the middle of winter, because I picture myself wearing a worn, seventies leather jacket that my mom used to wear back in the day. I don't think that is the case, because checking the weather archive tells me it was around 5-6 degrees Celsius around that time, and I do not handle cold well. You would think growing up on a wind swept island in the Northern part of Norway would toughen you up for such things, but no, it doesn't. The one thing growing up in such a climate taught me though, is to have a positive mindset and take one day at a time ("Summer is probably coming in the next few days/weeks/next year. It will be great!"). But I digress.
December 2006 was when I had my second beginning. It was when I had my death sentence handed to me, and when I decided that life really was worth living, and that cancer wasn't going to get me. I had been checked many times before, and it was always just routine. Do the test, get the results, see you next time. Until that day in December 2006 when the doctor told me she had bad news.
The first thing I remember is the numbness. Then the panic. Then the tears. The doctor said it was probably a good idea if I phoned someone to be with me as we talked, so I did. I was sitting in a hospital corridor on an uncomfortable chair, under the glaring fluorescent light, people walking to an fro. I called my husband: no answer. I called again: still no answer. I called again. And again. Finally one of his colleagues picked up the phone, and said he was in a meeting. Somehow I managed to stutter the words hospital and emergency, and he understood I was serious. My husband jumped in a taxi, and was there 15 minutes later. I was still sitting in the corridor waiting, with cancer in my body. It was a long wait...
The doctor started explaining what was happening, and I could see her lips move, but I didn't understand a word she was saying. She was speaking in a foreign language, she was speaking cancer. I understood that it was serious, that I needed an operation, that they had to take the breast off, and that they had reserved a time for the operation nine days later. I had to have blood tests done, and x-ray my lungs. I remember asking if I could go home to Norway on Christmas vacation two days after my operation, as we had planned, but she didn't think that was a good idea. I could have reconstruction later, and there were different ways to do that, and I needed chemo and maybe radiation.
Then we went home.
At first I couldn't say the words. It was still like a foreign language. I couldn't pronounce it, get it out of my mouth. Breast cancer. I have breast cancer. Never had I been so scared, so alone and so lost. And who could have known that this was only the beginning, the second one, and that a third and fourth beginning was waiting not too far into the future.