Written by Patricia Darwish.
This is Patricia’s journey. If you missed Part 1, feel free to read it now before continuing. We will continue to provide you with her story every Friday.
It’s Friday morning and I haven’t slept at all. My alarm goes off. What? I have to get up and go on with my day? How is that possible? The doctor just told me I have a mass in my lungs. As I lay in bed, I hear the sound of the blowdryer and my girls getting ready for school.
Wait! I realize I’m not allowed to break down. I have to be strong and force myself to get up, put a smile on my face and go on with my normal routine.
I take a deep breath and call my doctor, get dressed and head to his office. As I sat in the exam room, anxious, scared, and defeated — I was… a wreck.
The doctor came in the room and pulled up the X-ray, showing me the mass. My mass. As I looked at the picture I knew I wasn’t ready to accept it, to face the reality. Instead, I cried again. Questions were asked by the doctor, but I couldn’t answer any. A ton of bricks were resting on my chest and I couldn’t breathe.
That’s when it happened. I embraced myself as a victim. I broke down and the questions came pouring out.
“WHY? WHY? WHY? Why is this happening to me?”
All the while I could hear those familiar words echo in my head, “God tests the ones He loves,” over and over. At that moment, I didn’t feel love from Him at all. I felt God hated me.
I found myself back in my car, sitting behind the wheel outside of the doctor’s office. Looking over the instructions he gave me, I felt overwhelmed. Appointments with pulmonary doctors, scheduling a bronchoscopy, telling my family… Everything had to be done immediately, but my world was caving in on me and I didn’t know who to call first. What do I even say? I sat — empty — begging God to make it go away.
Ultimately, I decided to share the news with my little brother, making him promise not to say anything to anyone — not even my parents — until I had more answers. It was too soon to worry anyone about cancer, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
So, my brother became my life-jacket. He took me to all my appointments in December. He was with me when I met the pulmonary doctor, Dr. Simoff, and stayed with me for all my biopsies. I could see the fear in his eyes, which killed me, and I tried hard to not cry in front of him. It would’ve have broken him to see me scared, and I needed him to be strong for me. Sometimes, though, sometimes I couldn’t hold back — and I would cry and cry and cry.
Dr. Simoff explained to me what the next steps would be for me since they had found a mass in my lungs. He pulled his chair up next to mine and held my hand while he said, “It’s okay to be scared.”
All I could think about was my kids.
Who’s going to be there for my kids? Who’s going to put my children priority the way I put them first? Who’s going to throw them birthday parties or attend their graduation? How am I going to get through this?
After many painful biopsies and over nights at the hospital, doctors confirmed the mass was not in my lungs, but it was in my chest cavity near my heart. It had been less than two weeks from my initial ER visit and my body was exhausted.
The Family Wedding
On Dec. 11, my cousin was getting married. At that time, my brother was still the only one who knew about my secret. So, with that, I had to go — there was no way out of it. How would I explain to my parents why I was so tired?
So, I put on my black dress, slipped on my heels, and went to my sister’s to do my make-up. I remember her going crazy because she kept having to redo my eyes. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked. I kept saying, “It’s allergies.”
In reality, I kept thinking, “This may be the last time she does my make-up.” “This may be the last family celebration I attend.”
Seeing my family was difficult. Watching my father and mother smile and laugh shattered my insides. How was I supposed to tell them I might have cancer? How was I going to break their hearts? How was I going to disrupt their peace? I caught myself wiping my tears throughout the evening.
A week later my friend and I went to get our eyebrows done. I needed some sense of normalcy. And it was during that outing that I received the call. My heart stopped because I knew… I knew that whatever the message was, my life would change forever.
“Ms. Darwish? The tests have come in. I’m sorry. You have cancer.”
The ugly “C” word was confirmed as it came out of his mouth.