by Amy

I was by myself at the hospital when I found out I had cancer.  It was 2020 and at the height of the Covid crisis.  No one was allowed to go with me, so I ventured in alone.  I never thought I’d actually have cancer.  Mind you, I didn’t know it was Inflammatory Breast Cancer just yet.  In fact, I thought it was Stage 4 cancer because I was so un-versed in the lingo (thinking that if it were in my lymph nodes, which they had confirmed, meant that it was Stage 4).

Shortly after the radiologist told me we needed to do biopsies to determine the details, I said to him, “Well, let’s just hope for the best!”  It was all I could to muster those words through a shaky voice and tears streaming down my face.  He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “No.  Amy.  You have cancer.  There is no doubt about it, but I cannot verify that officially until we do the biopsies.  I’ve been doing this for over 20 years however, and I can tell you, this is a classic presentation of cancer.”

How funny for me that I had expressed a desire for hope and his response was “no”.  Ironically, I wasn’t hoping to not have cancer, I was hoping that it wasn’t IBC.  My clinical presentation had already led me to IBC on Google, so I was just hoping at this point that it wasn’t IBC.

The sweet nurse ushered me to the waiting room to sit while they prepared for the 9 biopsies they were going to take from my breast and armpit.  I was sobbing uncontrollably.  They had a box of tissues on the table next to the chairs.  Surely they’d learned they needed them from all of the other women who sat there before me and had also bawled their eyes out, snot and all.

Directly above me, hanging on the wall, was a pink and white sign.  I hate the color pink; I always have.  There was a breast cancer ribbon embroidered on the side and there were three words – Faith, Hope, and Love.

I had faith, though at the moment it was feeling shaky.  Even though I was alone at the hospital, I knew I had people who loved me.  But what in the hell was hope supposed to look like under these circumstances?  Even the doctor had said “No.”

What does hope look like when you’ve been diagnosed with the most aggressive and fatal breast cancer known to humans?  What does hope look like when you know that the world as you know it has flipped upside down?  What does hope look like when you have to tell you six year old son that you have cancer?  What does hope look like when you have to make a call and deliver the news but you can’t even get the words out without choking?

I am sure that hope looks different for all of us, but I’d like to share what hope looked like for me.

– Hope looked like phone calls from family and friends to check on me

– Hope looked like survivors who had made it past the dreaded five year mark

– Hope looked like chemo and surgery and radiation

– Hope looked like medicines that kept me from puking

– Hope looked like my son’s eyes when he saw me shave my hair

– Hope looked like the last day of treatment

– Hope looked like my hair growing back

– Hope looked like my new breast cancer sister community

– Hope looked like binging a new Netflix show while I recovered from surgery

Hope took on these and so many more forms as I navigated IBC.  Even though IBC is a lifelong diagnosis, I’m lucky that I can continue to find hope in the darkest and ugliest places of life.  I’m blessed to know that hope exists there and continually encouraged to look for it.

Where can you find hope in the darkness and how can you share it with others?

With Joy,


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This