"I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.
"I was 52, very healthy, very fit, great diet and this was not in my life plan. I put the phone down, in a state of shock and started crying. What was I going to do now? I decided I would stay at work for the day as my younger daughter was at home - summer vacation - and I couldn't tell her at this point. I knew if I went home I would fall apart. Staying at work would mean that I would have to keep it together.
"What happened next was to throw me into a complete tailspin. An hour later, after the phone call from the cancer center, and still reeling from the news, I got another phone call. My older daughter's best friend Kate had been killed in a bike accident in Tennessee. She was 22 and had been working as a whitewater rafting guide for the summer. Kate was one of those kids who had a brilliant future ahead of her. She was a star soccer player in high school and had gone on to play Division I soccer at college. She had finished her degree in physical therapy early and was about to embark on a master's degree. She was just an all-around great kid, and spent a lot of time at our house.
"Hearing about her death just floored me. I really didn't know what to do with my emotions. What was worse? Me having cancer or this young woman dying tragically?
"In my head at the time I felt incredibly lucky. It was almost like she died so I could live. I felt like I had made some terrible pact with the devil.
"My initial tears of fear for myself gave way to heaving sobs of sadness for Kate and her parents - she was an only child.
"The next awful step was to tell my daughter, Hannah. She was in Israel at the time with her grandmother and I didn't have a phone number for her, so I ended up having to send her a facebook message, knowing that she would definitely see that. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, apart from telling my husband that night that I had cancer.
"My story got better from then on. They had caught the stage one invasive ductal carcinoma early and after a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy, they found that it had not spread to my lymph nodes and the margins of the lumpectomy site were clean. I sailed through chemo and radiation with the help of acupuncture and a naturopathic doctor - no drugs at all, apart from some strategically placed marijuana and a lot of natural supplements.
"I am now even fitter and healthier than I was before and I have discovered a new outlook on life, but that is another story."
Michael Vitez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.