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Thursday, January 10, 2013

What if?

I had a mammogram on the 7th of January, and yesterday I got a call from my Gynecologist's office.

"They need to do a repeat mammogram," she stated. "There is a density in your right breast that they want to check out."

I thanked her, hung up the phone and sat quietly for a moment.
Then, screwing up my courage, I called Radiology and made an appointment for today.

I don't have much of a history of cancer in my family.
In fact, even though my Dad has had recurrences of Melanoma no less than three or four times, he just pops right back up like a Whack-a-Mole.  He is just a total Warrior.
When fear crept over me in the 24 hours before my re-screen, I called him to mind.
Thanks to his example, in my mind Cancer + Fight = WIN.

Inevitably, though, there were moments when the "what if" would creep into my thoughts and would not be pushed away.

What if I had breast cancer?

I am not afraid of having a lumpectomy, or a mastectomy, or whatever else. I mean, I certainly wouldn't choose to have them unnecessarily, but in no way do I attribute my personal value, or my womanhood, to simple body parts. Rob and I have actually discussed this before, when we were talking about a friend of my stepmother's who has breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, I believe. I told Rob that if there were any chance of it being a serious cancer, of spreading, or of reoccurring, then I would want it OUT OF MY BODY. Why live with the worry? He agreed wholeheartedly. A very individual decision to be sure, but one I would not hesitate to make.

The hardest thoughts, of course, were about my children.
To imagine not being here to see them all to adulthood,
not seeing them having children of their own,
this is unfathomable.
I literally cannot make my brain go there
and I hope I never have to.

After having my poor right breast re-mashed for the second time in a week,
I waited nervously for the radiologist to review my scans.
Two other women were waiting there as well- one keeping herself occupied with her cell phone and one sitting, staring straight ahead.
I wondered if they were anxious, like me. Even though I believed I was fine, I was still nervous and feeling shaky inside. Surely most women would feel this way, no matter how many times they endure this call back.
We sat silently, waiting.

The door opened and the tech came back for me.
We went into a room and she shut the door behind me.
I turned to her, searching her face for clues.
"Everything looks fine," she said with a smile.
I felt relief flood my body and a wisp of thanks rocketed from my head to the heavens.

Even now, several hours later, I still feel the vague tendrils of "what if?" unspooling in my body.
Life feels a bit more fragile, not to be taken for granted, at least for now, until the panic dissipates and normal life resumes.
I was the lucky one today but I know there are women who will walk in there and who will leave with their lives forever altered, a referral to an oncologist clutched in their damp, shaking fingers.
For them, the What If will pound like a drum.
Tonight, in my prayer of thanks, will be prayers for help and healing as well.


Natalie said...

So grateful for your good news! Believe me, I've been on that what if path with you, and it's not fun. Hugs!

HynesMom said...

Scary! Glad it did work out. I tend not to think about the what ifs because in the back of my mind, I think that will make it happen, even though I know it doesn't work that way.