After having a routine mammogram, the technician informed me that a mass was found in my left breast. The doctor’s office ordered a biopsy to be performed two days later. With no family history, on October 9, 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Twenty short days later, I was in the hospital having a mastectomy and breast reconstruction performed.
Normally, I am extremely introverted. I wouldn't write about this surgery. But this was something I need to share to help me reflect and better understand what I have gone through in such a short period of time.
Looking back, I believe I had not come to terms with everything that was happening. To some degree, I believe that was probably for the best. The one thing I do know is that the kindness and outreach of support from the military community left me speechless.
With this experience, I learned:
10 Reasons to Believe in the Kindness of My Military Family
1. A new friend can appear unexpectedly.While in the hospital, I had a visitor from work who surprised me. He and I bumped heads in a professional way, but I didn't really think of him as a friend. His visit made me know I had a new friend who had been there all along. For that, I will be forever grateful.
2. A smile can help heal your wounds and spirit.When friends would stop by to see me, I would absolutely be embarrassed because I could not wash my hair. They would only stay for a moment and smile a genuine, cheerful hello. In that moment, I felt so much better. I was happy and ready to try again to get up and walk around.
3. Sharing your experience helps you to heal.Talking about what I was going through with my military family made me realize that I was not alone and helped me to push forward.
4. Many more people truly care about you than you know.Being an introvert, I did not realize how many people truly cared for those around them. I would sit for days in tears thinking “I am so blessed to have all the amazing people in my life.”
I remember shortly after having coming home from the hospital that there were a dozen balloons floating around the room while I laid in bed. They were bright and happy. Flowers filled my room, and cards were abundant. I never felt alone with my military family.
5. Military community has a uniqueness for caring.People I had only met once in my military life rallied behind me. It is due to their caring and support that know I am recovering faster than I thought I would. My spouse encountered the same support from the command. Somehow they knew when to call and remind him that someone cared and he was also not alone.
6. A meal can ease the painArrangements were made to care for my six boys and my husband. Our military family brought us homemade dinners for eight days following my surgery. The boys were checked on every day—sometimes several times a day—to ensure they knew they were not alone and to call if they ever needed anything while I was in the hospital.
7. One card can encourage you not to give up.I received over fifty cards from military community members. With each one I was compelled to try a little harder and walk a little longer when I just wanted to do nothing but lay there.
8. Text messages have magical powers.The first four weeks I was in bed a lot recovering from surgery. During the day, I would receive multiple text messages from members of our military community. Are you OK? We're thinking of you. Do you need anything? You look beautiful today. I didn't know some of the people who texted me and my husband. It was not a lot. It was just enough so that I knew I was not alone in my situation or my recovering process.
9. Enjoy where you are instead of wishing it away.This experience and the outpour of kindness have given me the strength to make choices and move forward in multiple aspects of life. This is why I love being a military spouse.
10. Positive attitude and support changes everything.This one speaks volumes all on its own!
This experience has changed who I am. While my journey is not yet over, I will always keep the support and friendship shared during this time with me. My military community has shown me a great kindness that I hope to repay to them one day. Even though I still consider myself an introvert, I gained a community of friends that showed me that people still care for others in this world.
Audrey Carroll is a Navy spouse currently stationed in Louisiana and headed to Virginia.