Sunday, July 14, 2013



About two weeks ago, a doctor told me she suspects I have breast cancer.

Two days later, my husband of over 18 years, the father of our two young children, announced he's leaving me.

Go ahead, take your time; let it sink in. Let your jaw hang slack and your eyes go glassy a while, that's the normal reaction. I'm not even sure I've fully processed it yet. There's ugly and a whole lot of it here, so let's just tackle these two mind-boggling, life-altering traumas one at a time, shall we?

Like Sarah Palin, My Right Breast Has Gone Rogue

A mammogram, ultrasound and core needle biopsy have all shown a mass with some characteristics of Phylloides Cystosarcoma (PC). It also shows some characteristics of Fibroadenoma, a benign type of mass, but since the usual treatment prescribed for Fibroadenomas is take two wait-and-watch-for-changes and call when it's time for your next mammogram, I'm interpreting the fact that they've scheduled me for surgery in ten days as a strong indicator that there's good reason for concern. I get my healthcare through an HMO, and HMOs aren't known for handing out tests, treatments or surgeries like candy on Halloween.

PC is a rare type of breast tumor that's technically classified as cancer whether its cells are benign or malignant because either way, it tends to grow quickly and large, interfere with or deform surrounding tissues, and some studies have shown the so-called benign form is actually more likely to metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the body than the malignant form. In related news, there's also a "borderline" form of PC that's kinda malignant, and kinda benign, and totally unpredictable. Fun!

PC isn't quite like any other kind of breast mass, but since it only comprises about 1% of all diagnosed breast tumors PC has not been widely studied and is not well-understood. The cherry on top of this particular sundae is that PC tumors have not been shown to respond to chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapies; the only treatment for them is removal.

My Husband Is No Longer My Husband

Apparently he's had his mind made up about this for quite a while, but on reflection (or a total lack thereof), decided that two days after learning about my health crisis was the right time to share the happy news about the new life he intends to have without me.

There are plenty of sordid details and shocking incidents surrounding this that I'd absolutely love to share with you, but I won't, because it would ultimately hurt my children more than him. He is still their father and always will be, and I realize this is a very public forum. Protecting my children from further trauma is uppermost in my mind, and indulging my baser impulses, however justified they may be, isn't the way to accomplish that goal.

Why Blog It?

So, that's the 'To Hell' part of this blog. The '& Hopefully Back' part is what I hope will be happening over the rest of this year. This blog won't be a repository for my anger at the former Mr. April L. Hamilton. Instead, I want it to be about the process of surviving, and then, one day, if I've earned any positive karma in this life at all, thriving again.

I need someplace to document the surreal-ness of it all, to validate the experiences of others who are facing the same challenges (though hopefully, not both at the same time like me), offer a window of insight to those who have friends or family facing these crises, and share whatever little life preservers I find along the road to recovery.

Well, all of that, and it's cathartic. Writing is my home, and my safe haven. It's something that's always been totally mine, the one area of my life where I'm not anyone's wife or patient, or even mother. I'm just me. It's both a tool and a gift I've been given, and it's the only thing that can pull me back from the void sometimes.

Right now, I'm still in shock. I feel like someone who's just managed to crawl onto a lifeboat leaving the Titanic, only to have the lifeboat crash into another iceberg. But I've got a life jacket, in the form of my children. A flare, in the form of my writing. A warm and protective wetsuit, in the form of the love and support of friends and family. And a large piece of driftwood to cling to, in the form of my sense of humor.

Now, since I intend to make it back to shore, I'd better start swimming.


  1. I am so very sorry for all you're going through. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thank you, Mary. The impact of the "kindness of strangers" at such a time cannot be overstated.

  3. April,

    I'm so sorry to hear of your double traumas. I will pray for strength and healing for you.

  4. Hi April, sending you support from across the ocean... let us know if you need anything.

  5. Thanks, Lillie & Joanna. I'm trying to take it day by day---though sometimes, hour by hour is the most I can manage. I just have to keep telling myself that a year from now, this will all be over and I'll have my life back. And it will truly be mine.

  6. Sending you all my best wishes & sympathies after the cruel turn of events.

    Stay strong, stay writing, stay in touch, stay sane!

  7. You don't know me but I feel compelled to comment. Feel the strength of all who are wishing you well. I'll keep you and your children in my prayers.

  8. Hi April,

    I read your blog and see you as a very strong swimmer, a survivor. You have chosen to take the high road and to think positive during this traumatic time in your life. Hang on tight to that piece of driftwood! Humor gets us through all the junk life can toss at us.

    I hope for the best for you

  9. Hi April...I just read about your recent bad luck and I felt compelled to write to you, even though we don't know each other.

    I'm not a religious person, so I'll leave the praying to your family, friends and fans.

    But, although being a male, I do have some experience and insight concerning your situations and thought I'd share it with you and perhaps offer you a bit of (or a lot of) hope.

    First, I'm sorry that your husband didn't have the personal convictions and where-with-all to stand by your side through this very scary and difficult path you are about to travel down. I made that journey with my young bride of 28 back in 1985 even though our marriage was not doing so well. We did ultimately divorce though, but not until she was finally in remission...16 years later! So please don't despair all men and I hope one finds his way to you to offer the kind of support and love you deserve.

    And second, even when things seem darkest, know that people are cured wife ultimately had stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to her ribs, hip, spine and lungs! She underwent an autogolus bone marrow transplant (which since has been discontinued because it wasn't being "successful") and made it out to the other side...and she is healthy to this day!

    WOW, after re-reading this note I now wonder it's too much...but I really hope it helps you maintain your positive attitude and know that there is always hope.

    Best of luck to you...


  10. April,

    I heard about this on the Kindle Newsletter. My heart goes out to you and your kids.

    I haven't read your stuff, just this and the blurb that speaks to what you're into, but you seem like a very accomplished, thoughtful individual....who I believe ultimately will have the fortitude to weather these storms.

    Its a bit of a cliche now, but I promise: You and your kids will be in my prayers.


  11. April,
    The healing power will come from your 'frame of mind'. Please believe you will be much bigger than your challenges.
    As for your marriage; Isn't it true that the "measure of a man comes at the most difficult of times". I think we have his measurements, don't you.
    The battle you wage now, will serve as a legacy your children will hold in their hearts for the rest of their lives!
    Give them that, for you can give them no greater gift!
    My thoughts are for your happiness!

  12. Good grief, April, things never happen to you in a small way, do they?

    I was flabbergasted when I heard about your troubles. Judging by this blog you've risen to this challenge with grace and style: I hope your strength holds out. If it doesn't I know you have a lot of internet friends who will do what they can to help, and I hope you number me among them.

    Take care of yourself; and make sure you stay around to prickle at me every now and then. I'll be sending you good thoughts, for what it's worth, and am crossing my fingers that soon I'll be hearing of your full and swift recovery.

    As for your husband: bah. You're better off without him, it seems. No matter how hard it must be for you right now. His behaviour is absolutely disgraceful, and I hope he's ashamed of himself.

  13. JFBookman via twitter pointed me to your blog. All I can say is that I will keep you, and your family in my thoughts, and that I'll be reading.

  14. I read about your current problems on Kindle Nation Daily and wanted to let you know I will add you and your doctors to my prayers. As for the other thing, I say we bring back the practice of shunning.

  15. April,

    A true test of a person's soul is how they react in times of crisis. Just when you need support from those close to you, your husband bails out.

    You deserve better, but at least you will not be spending precious energy on someone who is not there for you.

    As a cancer survivor, I wish you only the best. The journey is not easy, but the cure is within your reach. Focus on your healing and surround yourself with family and friends who truly care. They will share their strength and will help you to get to the far side of this.

    Fight on, Barb

  16. Hi April, I came here through Kindle nation daily, you have a true friend there...

    I am a 15 year breast cancer survivor, my daughter was 2 when I was diagnosed and I was pregnant...but enough about me...I am here to "listen and show support and to read your books, now that I have discovered them...We are a nation, we survivors and we are strong...we are here for you and for your children, lean on us when you need to and when you don't just know we are here. I look forward to getting to know you. Kim

  17. In the off chance that you WOULD need to defile the soon to be ex...there is always anonymous blogging :)

    I am hoping that this is an easy road for you. Well, as easy as it can be anyhow.

    I will be following along, throwing in my 2 cents worth of support whenever I can.

  18. For every one comment, there are probably 50+ non-commenters sending you positive thoughts, vibes and prayers. I'm normally one of the 50 but really want to make a point to tell you there are a lot of folks out here in cyber-land that are supporting you!

    I've also just purchased your books for my kindle and will share the purchase link with my pals. Hope that helps a tiny bit.

    Hugs and warmth from Southern California,

  19. Very sorry to hear about your struggles. Perhaps writing everything you're not willing to stick in a public forum on paper and then burning it will help? I've read that things like that can help get the emotions out without risking it being hurtful to the people you want to protect.

  20. Thanks, a million times, to all who've expressed their support here, bought my books, hit the donate button, or even just had a kind thought for me and my kids these past few days.

    This outpouring of kindness has meant a great deal to me. With everything being dumped on me these days, it's very easy to get into a negative, despairing mindset and stay there. Thanks to all of you for reaching out; to say you're "lifesavers" would sound cliche, but in this case it's really true.

  21. How are things going for you April?

  22. Hi April I just started your boo Adelaide Einstein and I am enjoying it very much! I hope your breast cancer journey is going as well as can be expected...

  23. Smarks - Things are still up and down, but the downs are getting shorter and farther apart all the time. I still sometimes wish I could just go into hibernation and wake up 6 months from now, when the divorce will be over and I'll be moved into a new place with my kids. If you read through the rest of the entries in this blog, you'll know *exactly* what I've been going through since March.

    Kim Wright - I'm now cancer-free, but I'll have to be more vigilant going forward. I have a pretty big scar from my surgery, but I'm thinking about having a pink ribbon tattoo done next to it in January, when all the healing should be complete and the scar tissue should be settled. Until then, no one's likely to see it, but if they do I'll say, "That's where my ex tried to kill me. He missed."

  24. Oh and Kim - thanks for buying my book. I'm glad you like it. =')

  25. Hey check out the warrior in pink symbols,they can be found on make sure the sound is on when you go there and let me know what you think. I love that campaign...I have you other book too, but haven't started it yet...I belong to kindle nation and we are behind you!