...I got a call from a nurse practitioner telling me that I needed to come in the following day to speak to the surgeon, whom I hadn't met. I'd had a biopsy days earlier. She wouldn't tell me on the phone that I had breast cancer, so I didn't find out officially until two years from tomorrow. But when the phone call says, "I need you to come in imminently" rather than "everything is clear; as you were," it's pretty damned obvious that there's a problem. So this is, essentially, the two-year anniversary of when life turned upside down.
It's how I track the passage of time now: That was all happening around September 11. One of my followup mammograms last winter was the day of the Newtown shootings—I watched the horror unfold alongside a bunch of anxious strangers in the breast center waiting rooms. It was the only visit of many to the hospital where everyone was much more upset by outside events than by the fact that they were patients in a breast or cancer center. I learned a few hours later that a close friend lost a loved one in those shootings. And yet I still mark time by how often I have to don a hospital robe.