I would like to express my gratitude to the following people for their help, support, and encouragement:
My agent, Susan Rabiner, who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and who has continued to believe in me through thick and thin. I am so grateful to have you as my friend and my agent. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for being there for me and for believing in me. I love you!
To my editor, Susan Kamil, who has been my friend, confidante, and sounding board for so many years. You have been a constant source of support and encouragement, and I am grateful to you for all that you have done for me, for this book, and for me as a writer. I can’t imagine a better editor than you. You are the best! Thank you, Susan, for all of your hard work and for taking such good care of me.
The first day of the rest of your life…
It’s hard to believe that it has been more than thirty years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, I was thirty-two years old, married, and pregnant with my first child. I had just finished my first year of law school at the University of California, Berkeley, and was working at a law firm in San Francisco. My husband and I were living in an apartment in the Tenderloin district, and we had just bought our first home. We were excited about starting a family and moving out of the city, but I knew that my life was about to change in a big way. I knew, too, that I was going to need all the help I could get to get through this difficult time in my life. I was determined to do whatever it took to be the best mother I could be to my baby. I wanted to be there for my son when he needed me the most. I also knew that I would need a lot of support from my family and friends. I needed to be surrounded by people who loved me and cared about me and who would be there to help me through the difficult times ahead.
THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
SIX MONTHS EARLIER
When I woke up in the middle of the night, I knew something was wrong. My heart was racing, my breathing was shallow, and my skin was clammy. I lay there for a few minutes, trying to figure out what it was that was making me so scared. Then I heard the sound of a baby crying in the next room. I sat up in bed and looked at the clock. It was 3:00 A.M. I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room, where I found my husband asleep on the couch. I shook him awake and told him what was going on. He immediately got up and went to check on the baby. When he came back into the room, he told me that the baby was fine, but that I had to go to the hospital right away. I told him I was not going to leave the baby alone, but he insisted that I go with him. He put the baby in the car and we drove to the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, the doctor was waiting for us. He took one look at me and said, “You have breast cancer.”
At that moment, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. All I could think was, “How did this happen to me? How did I get here? What am I going to tell my husband and my baby?”
We went back to the doctor’s office, where he told us that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and that it was stage four. He said that there was nothing more he could do for me at that point.