Thanksgiving Day has arrived here in the States.
A sense of gratitude arrived with it early this morning. It blanketed me ever so softly with comfort and peace even as I sit with uncertainty. Calm such as this truly is a gift from God.
I had my mammogram recently; a few months overdue. I know… I know it’s important. But it hurts. I don’t care how many people say it doesn’t, it does.
The same tech who’s done my mammograms for over 15 years flattened my breasts into pancakes once again. Each smashing was accompanied with apologies and assurances it would be over soon. “Be still and hold your breath, hon.” We did this several times and I waited for the okay to get my shirt back on. She scrutinized the screen with a practiced eye, then dismissed me to the dressing room. When I pulled the curtain back, she said “You’ll get a call in a few days saying everything is fine, or you need to come back. But you’ll get a call either way.” I guess this is to lessen the anxiety about seeing your doctor’s number on the incoming caller ID.
Sure enough, I got a call last week saying they’d seen something ‘suspicious’ and wanted me to come back for a re-check.
It was far back in the recess of my mind until last Friday morning when I started thinking about the fact that I’ve never had a re-check for a mammogram before. I met up with my best friend for a walk on my way to the clinic and debated whether or not to tell her. She’s had two close friends diagnosed with the big C this year. But, I knew if it were the other way around, I’d want to know so I decided to tell her. Without hesitating, she offered to go with me. Though I declined her offer, it meant a lot to me because it was genuine.
My mammo-friend from last week was at the counter when I checked in, and despite the years of handling my breasts she didn’t recognize me, even though only one week had passed since our last encounter. Then again, I guess she doesn’t really focus on the faces, now does she? A different tech led me down the hall for my re-check.
She showed me the screen shot of last week’s mammogram and it looked like a moonscape. Let’s face it, the inside of a breast really isn’t the prettiest thing to look at. Nerves, blood vessels, milk ducts, fat. But she narrowed in on two tiny flecks of white. “These are normal calcifications,” she explained. Then she directed my attention to another area. “Those two spots are isolated singular calcifications, but this area has what we call a cluster.” She went on to explain the significance of clusters but my mind had already wandered to the Sandra Bullock movie “28 Days” and how they made a fake soap opera and someone had brain clusters. It was funny in the movie.
We turned to the pancake-making machine and she said she’d be attaching a magnifier to really show off my cluster. This tech didn’t have cold, clammy hands like the other one, but it was still awkward having my breasts placed on a glass shelf, then smashed until it took away the breath I was supposed to be holding.
I thought about how much radiation I’d gotten in one week and wondered how good that is for my body. I thought about my Grandma and wondered what it was like when she was diagnosed so many years ago.
The tech left the room and I waited in my fashionable gown that ties in the back. Finally, she came to tell me I could go across the hall and discuss the findings with the doc. The room was still dark when I entered. Doc turned the light on and shook my hand. It wasn’t quite a dead fish handshake, but nearly. I decided I really shouldn’t be judging someone’s handshake when they were about to tell me something important.
My breast took up the entire screen and I have to say it looked like a double E right about then. I didn’t have time to imagine what it would be like to have Dolly Parton’s cup size, though, because she launched right into what we were looking at. The cluster. It looked like someone flicked old-fashioned White Out toward the screen and a few spots stuck to the screen. All very innocent looking to me.
I really tried to concentrate on what she was telling me, but my mind wandered again. I felt fear snaking its way in the room and it took energy to shoo it away. I heard doc say because it’s different than my previous mammograms, and in a cluster that’s what’s causing the concern. If it had been there before, they wouldn’t really be too concerned. My mind wandered some more. Because of my family history, I had the gene test done a few years ago, and it came up negative. What about that, I wondered. Doc’s voice came back. It is probably just fine, she said. She recommended a biopsy to be sure. This is good, I know. I looked it up later, 80% of biopsies are benign.
So hubby took me to have the biopsy Monday and the results should be available soon. No matter what my outcome is, I realize it’s these scary, hard times that remind me of what I have to be thankful for. I’ve discovered the joy of writing and blogging, I reconciled with my mom, I’m developing healthy new friendships, and my faith in God continues to grow. He is good, even when times are hard. Maybe especially when times are hard.
I am incredibly blessed by the unconditional love from my husband, kids, and best friend. They’ve listened and understood me to the best of their abilities. They have helped me heal and grow in ways I never thought possible. I have so much to be grateful for no matter what my diagnosis is. So even in the waiting, or perhaps because of the waiting, I am thankful.
**UPDATE: Thank you every0ne for your wonderful support and concern. My test came back negative -all’s well!!!
What are you thankful for?