Before I tell you a story, I’ll give away the ending. I’m fine.
I had my annual mammogram on Tuesday afternoon, late in the afternoon, after the radiology team had gone home for the day. The tech told me I’d get a call Wednesday morning if I needed to come back, otherwise I could expect a letter letting me know everything was clear.
Wednesday came and went with no word from the breast center. Dave and I swapped high-fives slaps.
At 11:06 this morning (Thursday) my phone buzzed. I stepped out of a meeting to take the call from the Winchester Hospital Breast Center.
“You need to come back,” the nice lady said. “We found something. You need more images and an ultrasound. We can see you at 2:20 or 3:00.”
2:20 it would be.
I had breast cancer in 2007. I had always been diligent about annual mammograms (every 366 days). My maternal grandmother and her daughter (my Aunt Natalie) both died of breast cancer. I knew I would develop the disease. I just knew that I would. So when I got the diagnosis I was not surprised. I wasn’t pleased, just not surprised. So I went into treatment.
Lots of tests, two surgeries, chemo, radiation. I lost my hair (and honestly, I didn’t hate my bald bad self). I learned two things… hair grows back and if I had to, I could do it again.
Over the last 12 years I’ve had a few call backs for additional images. But this time, the call felt ominous. In the five hours between the call back and the news that I’m OK, I rearranged my life.
I started a mental “to do” list.
I’d need a wig this time, so I could maintain a professional and (hopefully) acceptable image while conducting weddings.
I’d step up the push at work to cross train people to cover my job, because I was not going to put pressure on myself to manage the job while dealing with treatment.
I’d spend a few hours writing notes about the roles I play at my annual work conference (scheduled for May in Orlando), so my boss could easily find a warm body to take my place.
I’d cancel the reservation I made at a motel in Maine for a July vacation, and sit out the annual sailing regatta on my back porch.
I’d pick through the box of medical supplies left over from the visiting nurse appointments from my recent appendectomy wound-healing mishap and lay in new/additional supplies to get me through the breast surgery.
I’d hurry-up a few yet-unscheduled dates on my calendar to get my social girly time in before I went onto the D.L.
That’s about as far as I got. Another very nice lady told me it was a cyst, nothing to worry about.
I asked her if she was sure. I told her I was willing to have it surgically removed. She laughed (I didn’t mind, it rang like music) and she told me to go home and enjoy the evening.
If you’ve had a significant illness or diagnosis, or have a loved one with a health challenge, you understand how it demands you pull up on the brake. It skews your view of the real world and turns everything into unattractive shades of dark colors. You worry about your Best Guy, your Mum and how everyone you love will cope without you being the strong one.
You worry and you fret and you plan, because you know that no one else will know what to do without your planning.
And then you don’t have to worry and you don’t have to plan because it’s what you wanted all along, but it does heighten and sharpen the nausea you’ve been biting back for the last five hours.
I’m good. If you’re not, call me. I’m here and I’ll hold your hand. You can cry or we can laugh. We can play cribbage or just sit in the quiet.
I’ve been there, I know.