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?”
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.