A few months before finding my lump, I didn’t feel like myself. I sensed something was wrong but couldn’t figure it out. It’s not like I felt sick or anything. I didn’t experience any symptoms of any kind. Plus my blood work had been excellent according to my doctor.
Then, I experienced a series of strange situations that led me to suspect something was def. wrong.
In the summer of 2010, a few months before finding my lump, I felt emotionally down. I would cry for no particular reason. I experienced heart palpitations a lot too. I thought maybe I was experiencing some level of depression but I was unclear as to what the cause of it was. I allowed myself to just be, without consulting anyone about it.
Then, that fall, a few weeks before finding the lump in my right breast, I was on the train. A young bald woman was sitting across from me. Of course, cancer was the first thing that popped into my head when I noticed her. Perhaps she was undergoing some type of chemo treatment, I thought. I was trying to be cautious so as not to seem like I was staring. Her train stop eventually came before mine. As she was leaving the train she suddenly made a full stop, and turned and stared at me. Her look lasted long enough to freak me out so I quickly turned my face away. I felt nervous.
Then, I started having some strange dreams. One involved a cemetery I am now very familiar with. I’ve never actually visited this cemetery in real life, but I’ve found myself visiting this place in my dreams, repeatedly, at different stages of my life.
The cemetery is located in this colorful little town surrounded by different shaped houses made out of inconsistent looking bricks, and very colorful. There’s a lot of nature surrounding the houses — plants and beautiful yellow flowers. It’s always sunny and warm. The streets often seem isolated though.
I’ve been dreaming about this cemetery since I was a teen. I’ve become so familiar with it that I’ve figured out shortcuts for how to get there. The many times I’ve visited this place I am unclear as to why I am even there. It’s not like I am visiting anyone in particular. I seem to know this place very well too. Usually there are people visiting their loved ones. The place looks beautiful with many lights and colorful flowers. I am always on my way in rather than my way out.
On this occasion, in the dream, as I enter the gate, I see many people leaving, but they don’t notice me going in. It is after dusk and it looks like the place is getting ready to close. I continue walking through the graveyard, as I usually do, with no destination in mind. It never feels like a nightmare when I am here. In fact, I feel peaceful, with a sense of comfort. I like this place.
As I continue with my walk, I come across one particular stone. I stop. My full name is engraved on it. I don’t recall noticing a date engraved in the stone. I rest my body on what seemed to be my grave, and closed my eyes.
Then, I woke up in the middle of the night, in a sweat, with my heart beating very fast. But I didn’t think much about it, until I had another dream the following week. This one involved my grandma.
I was in my grandmother’s house (back in Barahona, the town where I grew up, where she raised me). I saw a very bright light shining from the roof, which blinded me. As my eyes were halfway closed, I noticed my grandmother’s reflection floating. She was trying to reach out to me, but something did not allow us to interact. All I heard was a struggling voice which echoed repetitively. Then I woke up.
At this point, I began wondering if these dreams were a way for my body to unconsciously tell me something was wrong.
In December, days after having these dreams, I was sitting in a rocking chair at my fiancé’s apt. He had bought it for me because he knew it reminded me of my grandma. He was trying to talk to me but I was completely absent from reality. My folded arms were positioned in a way that allowed my hands to touch my breasts. I felt something. At that exact moment I knew. I ran to my guy asking him to feel my lump. He felt it too. He asked for me to call my doctor immediately, which I did. I received a response the following day and was in my doctor’s office the next day. After the examination, she recommended a sonogram. She suspected it was a fibroadenoma. I felt it was cancer.
Eventually I had the sonogram. I turned to see the monitor. I saw the dark hole. I knew. Even if the technician didn’t tell me, I still knew. A doctor comes into the room to look at the images and recommends a biopsy. I never shook in my life the way I did on that examination table.
The day before my biopsy, I had another dream about my grandma.
I was back in my grandma’s house. She was standing in the livingroom, staring at the floor. The only light was the one coming from the windows. I approached her and said, “hey mama, I am having a breast biopsy”. She doesn’t respond and continues looking down. “Have you ever had a breast biopsy before?” I ask. “Never,” she says, still looking down. “Well, I am having one” I repeat. “I know,” she replies as she slowing raises her head to look at me. There are tears rolling down her face. She walks towards me and hugs me. I hug her back, confused, and tell her that I am OK. Then I woke up.
I had my biopsy the next day and received the results the following day. I had breast cancer.
Of course all these events I experienced before my diagnosis were coincidences, but I do believe sometimes our bodies have a way to tell us when something is wrong. If this happens to you, please listen to your body and take action immediately. It is scary but it’s better to know than to ignore. And because cancer doesn’t warn you a lot of times, all you can do is be diligent with your health and continue with those regular checkups.
My dreams haven’t taken me back to that cemetery since that year. I don’t know how I’ll feel if my dreams take me there again. As for my grandma? I still have dreams of her, but there are no tears from her. But I am back to crying for no reason. It’s probably the Tamoxifen.