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Marie Sutton is a strategic communications professional, author, wife and mother of two. She was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer in January 2018. This post originally appeared on her blog and is reprinted here with her permission.

The Birmingham sky was postcard pretty on the Friday that I found out I have Stage 3 breast cancer. Brilliant brushstrokes of cerulean stretched from East Lake to West End and the sun pierced through the sky. It was like the setting of a dream, but the snap of cold in the air reminded me that it wasn’t.

It was lunchtime, and my team and I were interviewing for an opening in our department. The candidate, a woman, was in her early thirties. She had a messy ponytail, cheap mail-order tortoiseshell glasses and wore an ink blue pants suit that revealed her skinny legs. Five minutes into her talk, I wrote the words: “She’s a no.” She rambled and complained about her former employer and my mind drifted toward lunch.

I discreetly pulled out my phone underneath the table and scrolled through emails while she answered the questions from our prepared list. I saw that I had missed a call from an “801” number and my heart began to beat in my chest.

I clumsily excused myself from the room, walked over to a corner of the hallway and dialed my voicemail. The woman's message began with a sigh, and then, in a heavy African accent, said, “Mrs. Sutton, I have your results. Please call me.”

My knees began to buckle and I looked around for a place to go. I walked out onto the student center patio and tried to steady my fingers while calling back the number.

“Are you somewhere where you can talk?” the doctor said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you want me to call you back when you can talk?”

“No,” I said. My stomach was in knots and I felt I as if was going to throw up.

“Well...I am the doctor who did your biopsies. Do you remember me?”

“Yes,” I said, becoming annoyed. It had been less than 48 hours since she was pulling tissue from my right breast and lymph nodes. How could I forget?

“Well, we tested all three of the areas and all three came back cancer.”

Her words felt like a sledgehammer to the side of my head. Vibrations were coming from my skull and her words seeped in, in slow motion.

With each word she spoke – “metastasized” and “mastectomy” – a part of me slowly deflated. I thought of my 10-year-old daughter who loves art and hangs on my every word and of my 9-year-old baby boy who wants to save all the animals and enjoys kissing my cheeks. I thought of the possibility of dying. I was just two weeks shy of my 44th birthday.

After I hung up, her words were still sitting in my ear. I tried to get them out with my finger, but they were stuck.

I sat and stared for a moment. I spotted a man in the distance on the fifth floor of a parking deck. He was near the edge of the guardrail. “What is he doing,” I thought to myself. Was he going to jump?

Maybe I should jump.

I called my husband and without taking a breath, blurted out, “They said I have cancer.”

“I’m on my way,” he said and immediately came to my job. I walked toward the parking lot in a daze. I left my purse, my car, my keys, my coat.

When I got into his gray Infiniti, he grabbed my hand and said, "I'm sorry."

I didn’t speak, couldn’t speak.

He held my hand the entire drive. I stared out the window and tried to find words to say.

When we got home, he and I prayed, ate sandwiches, and watched episodes of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” We didn't know what else to do, so we laughed and cried and braced ourselves for cancer.

Follow more of Marie’s story through diagnosis and treatment on her blog marieasutton.com.