March thirty-first, a Monday, the last day of the month, the first day of the week and the day I had my latest yearly mammogram. My annual get nervous, pray for good news, stay calm outside while inside is trembling day. In truth, I’m always confident that all will be well, but being human and being a breast cancer survivor, there is always that nagging little voice that whispers, “what if?”
In 2008 I was diagnosed with breast cancer thanks to my very first mammogram. It was so small that the surgeon was surprised that it was seen, but a needle biopsy confirmed the possibility and the surgical biopsy made it definite. After a lot of pre-surgery tests and questions and random stuff, the actual surgery took place. It was a bit surreal, being pushed down that hallway stretched out on the gurney, the last thing I recall was going through a doorway and seeing that bank of overhead lights and then it was lights out for me. The next thing was finding myself away listening to a nurse ask me questions. Yes, I was thirsty and I’d have a ginger ale and crackers. I also was more than ready to go home please. We even made it almost to the house before I became terribly ill due to the anesthesia. I missed two days of work but then I was back trying to pretend that nothing had happened. Only it had, and it wasn’t over yet.
I do try to see everything as some kind of adventure. Head into it with eyes wide open, heart and mind ready and feet willing to travel the path. It may turn out well, it may be a rough road, it may be a road that ends badly. Either way, it is still an adventure and one to be experienced.
After I had healed from the surgery I visited the Oncology Center and met the man who was to be in charge of my visits. A very nice gentleman with a great sense of humor yet very intelligent and compassionate. I found out how many treatments I’d be getting and what was to be expected. What I didn’t know yet was if I was going to need chemotherapy. When I started the radiation treatments I still didn’t know. It was only after I had gotten a few treatments over with that I found out I would not need any chemotherapy. For that I was very thankful. As it was the radiation dragged me down to a point where it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. Still I managed to work, not missing a single day. It was set up that I would come in early and leave early therefore not missing any time. My diet changed because so called ‘junk food’ made the exhaustion worse. The habit of eating better is one that has stayed with me.
By the time I finished my radiation treatments I was wondering if I would ever feel human again. It took a while for me to regain my strength. I kept eating as healthy as I was able, tried to get a certain amount of exercise in daily, and get my rest. That rest part was the hardest and to be honest, I still don’t get the amount of sleep I need, but I’m working on it. So now, here I am, less than a week from having that annual test of endurance. Can I endure the pain of that thing clamped down so tightly? To find out if I’m still healthy? Yes. And you can bet, when you’re clamped in that thing, you’d answer any and all questions asked, and promise the sun, moon and stars just to get set free.
The letter came today with my results. I started out opening it slowly but then gave up and ripped it apart. Once again its clear, still no sign of cancer returning. Thank you Lord..
Yes, I am still healthy, I am still cancer free, I am still going to be able to participate fully in Relay for Life. An event that I invite everyone to participate in, here or in your own town. You never know the fun that you can have supporting such a good cause until you give it a try.