The Worst News of My Life

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Sandra Mitchell Sandra Mitchell
An award winning journalist, Sandra has been reporting and anchoring...
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As a journalist in Los Angeles, I am accustomed to delivering bad news. I am not used to receiving it.

Today the news comes not through high definition television from our state of the art studio. It comes from a 4 inch by 2 inch cellphone. And it is not my voice reaching out to inform. It is the voice of my doctor. My cellphone vibrates beside me. That vibration will deliver a jolt to my family and friends stronger than the earthquakes we know so well here in Southern California.

“Sandra” she says hesitantly. I already know what she will say. And for a moment I pity her having to say the words that surely will come.

“I have your biopsy results. I’m sorry to say, The results shows a malignancy. You have breast cancer.”

I am sitting at my desk in our pulsating newsroom, 27 minutes until my next newscast.

I must tell my news director. I must get to my husband. His smiling face gazes confidently at me from an 8 by 10 black and white photo on my desk. I take a moment to drag my shaking finger across the dust on the photo. Just beside it is a picture of a glorious gap-toothed smiling girl. She is a sensitive and beautiful 10 year old child. She is our daughter. In the picture, she is holding her fingers together to form the shape of a heart. And in that moment, my heart breaks. It is physical. It is visceral. I must get out of here. I must get home to my family.

I make it across the newsroom and zero in on my News Director Scott Diener.

My journalist’s composure is gone. He sees the shock, the sadness.

“Is everything alright?”

“No.”

It’s all I can say as I stumble toward his office.

The tears and the words tumble freely now.

“I have breast cancer.”

I will say the words so many more times to loved ones in the next few days. I will cry every time. But this is the first time. This makes it real.

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