“Is there anyone I can call for you,” the doctor asked. There was no time to dwell over the initial shock of being told I had breast cancer.

I thought to myself, “No, my husband left me, my mother is dead, my aunt runs a daycare, and my dad is too far away. I had no one.” All I wanted was a flipping cigarette. I wanted to scream, cry, do something, but all I could do was sit there as though I didn’t hear anything she had just said to me.

“We need to get you across the hall for imaging,” she said. “Maryjo will take care of you.”

“I see you had Federal Blue Cross, Blue Shield insurance,” she stated,”but you don’t anymore. It’s okay, we will get it figured out.”

MaryJo stood a little taller than me. Her compassionate personality kept me calm and focused.

“Let’s get started,” she said.

Trying not to break down I followed her reluctantly across the hall to imaging. She handed me another gown and said, “Undress from the waist up.”

I remember taking my shirt and bra off trying desperately not to lose it. I felt trapped because I couldn’t leave. My emotions were high because not even a year had passed that I was burying my mother from ovarian cancer.

I’m ushered into the exam room

She feels my breast and then says with gloom

“You have breast cancer,”

She definitively says.

“How can you be sure?”

As tears filled my eyes,

I questioned the nurse

of the doctor’s expertise;

She’s never wrong,

but we will see.

MRI and biopsy

all in one day

I couldn’t take the stress

I just wanted to run away.

I knew she was right

and I couldn’t hide

the unknown would elude me

like the ripples of a tide.


  • Leslie Jones, diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2011, offers insight and hope through her storytelling. As a  former Portraits of Hope Ambassador with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, she advocates for further funding and research for MBC.