In 2003, I walked into the surgeon’s office for the first time after my lumpectomy with both a sense of relief of having the tumor removed and a sense of trepidation. The sense of trepidation grew when I looked into the sad, grief filled eyes of the surgeon. I knew what she was about to tell me would be harder than the first time, when she said, “The tumor is malignant.”
She gently revealed to me that she had just received the pathology report back and the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes. After much pressuring from me, she revealed that 15 of the 23 nodes were found to be positive of cancer. As I had a full week of becoming an expert at breast cancer, I asked if it had been detected in my blood, and she replied “yes”. She looked at me and said words I will never forget. She said, “If anyone can beat this, it’s you.” She gave me hope, when I could fine none.
As Vickie Gerard writes in her book, There’s No Place Like Hope, “Hope-what a wonderful, beautiful word it is. I had not understood until that moment that all my deepest emotions had evolved around that word. The roller coaster ride that had become my life had all been driven by the loss of, and the renewed search for-hope. Yes, I would have loved a guarantee that I would get well, but I knew that that was impossible. What I had been searching for was hope. Without hope I could find no foothold, nothing to stop my spiraling, downward fall.”
It is now my passion to share that hope with others.
Jennifer Tom is a 1989 graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School. After graduating from SUNY Brockport, she moved and resided in Raleigh, North Carolina for many years. She returned to Central New York in 2001.