By: Sandra Mitchell

There is an accent to the voice.

“Sandra …?” She says my last name but it sounds like “Michelle” not “Mitchell.”

There is a familiar strain to the words. A voice filled with everything that is urgent and meaningful in the world.

A stranger has called the phone at my desk at The Broadcast Center.

I think of my daughter…a fall on the playground?

A vestige of fear spices my throat.

I think of my husband…a car accident?

In my mind, I am grabbing my keys, hurtling myself to my car in the parking lot and doing 90 up the freeway.

I feel like someone has taken an ice cream scoop to my insides.

But on this day, it is not my emergency.

“Sandra, My name is Maria, I don’t know you. But my doctor, he tell me I have the cancer and…”

She starts to cry. It is a guttural sound and for a moment I wonder if this is a cruel joke, someone disguising their voice with a fake accent.

“My husband he no understand. I watch your stories on t.v. and I would like very much to talk with your doctor.”

Since my own diagnosis, I have met other cancer patients and survivors. Always, we share the universal compassion of a hug. But there is no way to hug through the curly cord of the telephone.

My words will have to suffice. I struggle to focus, but I can’t.

I want to tell her that she will be fine. That she will beat this. But I don’t know her diagnosis. I do know that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed and the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic American and Latina women.

She has reached out to me and our conversation begins:

“Maria, I’m sorry.”

*BLOG NEWS:* …just found out my little blog “1 in 8” is nominated for a Southern California Journalism Award in the Individual Weblog Category! This is one of the largest and oldest journalism competitions in the U.S. Winners will be announced June 24.


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