Difficult memories surface during Breast Cancer Month

Family deals with the trauma of diagnosis

The Editor,

“Carlo, come home. I need to talk to you.”

These nine simple words that changed my life.

I raced home to find my wife, Bonita, in a bit of a daze. A routine ultrasound follow-up discovered a tumour that looked “suspicious.” It was a tough night but we hung on to our faith that everything would be all right. I remember pacing the family room floor having very personal discussions with my lord.

The next day, we were at the hospital for an ultrasound-guided biopsy. Bonita came out looking very sad — I could see she had been crying. She hugged me and whispered, “Its positive for cancer.”
The next few hours were a blur. I had always believed my family was under a shroud of protection. How could this be happening?

I also remember Bonita and actually seeing her so stoic, so graceful and so In the moment, I believe she was doing what all good wives and mothers do, which was to be more worried about me and the kids than herself.

We gathered our things and left the hospital. I asked Bonita what she needed from me. She said, “Can you drive me to city hall? I have a council meeting I am late for and I want to be there.”
There were a lot of lows and highs. I won’t go into all of them but the ones that stick out are:

• Having to tell the kids — that is exactly as hard as you would expect it to be.

• Hearing the words “chemotherapy” and “radiation,” and thinking that’s not going to be our story.

• Taking a tour of the chemo clinic and talking about “ports” and possible trips to emergency. I remember thinking am I in the right place or is this a set of The Twilight Zone?

• Partial mastectomies, total mastectomies, reconstructive surgery, implants… blah blah blah. Lots of decisions that we walked and talked a lot about over and over. I am so happy Bonita made the decisions she did along the way.

• The last one Oncotype DX, two very hopeful words we picked up on during the “study” phase and from the oncologists. More than words, it’s a test. The clouds parted when the tests came back.

There were still tough decisions to make. There were still surgeries and nasty stuff not worth discussing. Through all of it, Bonita seemed to be sailing through — never missing the kids’ stuff or her city council work, and being an amazing wife.

For National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bonita will be dropping the puck next Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the Coquitlam Express hockey game. Maybe see you there?

Carlo Zarrillo, Coquitlam


Original Article from Tri-City News: http://www.tricitynews.com/opinion/letters/difficult-memories-surface-during-breast-cancer-month-1.23057184