The Day When Three Words Change Your Life


By Maret Seitz

I’m Maret Seitz. This is the second installment in our series for LIVESTRONG, so if you missed the first, click here and here to see where this story started for my sister and I. In sharing our story of our mom’s cancer journey, our goal is not to sugarcoat anything – but we don’t want to start a “downer” conversation about cancer either. The experience forced me to reevaluate the way I was living and the way I will live, and the obstacle my family faced felt completely insurmountable. This is more of a conversation about living after something suddenly threatens that possibility.

I’m a terribly impatient person. I want everything yesterday, so when I found out we had to wait two weeks for the results of my mom’s suspicious diagnostic mammogram, it felt like an eternity. On July 4, she spent the whole day holding a pillow under her arm to protect her scar from the biopsy incision. I Googled everything imaginable (which did not help). During this time, I was irritable and bitchy – annoyed by anything and anyone. The red light was too long. That guy cut me off with his grocery cart. It was like a constant state of PMS, and it felt like torture.

July 8 was a hot day in Charlotte, and it was also Appointment Day – THE day we’d learn whether it was cancer or we could all go back to normal. Mom and Dad went to The Appointment, leaving Meg and me alone in our respective worlds, waiting for news.

Anyone who has waited for a diagnosis knows the agony. Mom’s appointment was at 2 p.m. that afternoon. 2:30…3…3:30 – nothing. Still no news at 4…4:09…4:16. I was a complete waste. I sat outside with Lovey, our 3-year-old dachshund, and thought, Where WERE they? Why was there no update? My phone constantly binged with similar texts from Meg. Come ON. As time ticked by and no news arrived, Meg and I figured it out. The silence spoke volumes. If this was nothing, we would’ve known by now. Clearly, this was something. 

I went inside to give Lovey a treat and charge my phone, when it suddenly binged again. Assuming it was Meg, I casually glanced at the screen. This time it wasn’t Meg – it was my Mom. Never underestimate the power of three words: “It is malignant.” That’s all it said.

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