My Coveted Normal

It was just a little over 3 years ago.   I had had my annual mammogram the previous week, and they had seen something they didn’t like.  I was on my way to get a diagnostic mammogram and sonogram. I wasn’t too alarmed, as I have had several call backs since I was 37.

As I was driving to my appointment, my cell phone rang.  It was my divorce attorney. We had reached a settlement agreement and were just trying to iron out a few fine points, or so I thought.  I swallowed hard as he explained that my now ex had fired his attorney and reneged on our agreement.  The whole process had been pretty taxing to that point, but this new development was unsettling to say the least.

I pulled into the parking lot of the Dr.’s office and sat momentarily in my car discussing options with my attorney and then quickly ran inside for my appointment.

After the mammogram and sonogram, the nurse called me back into a room.  I hadn’t been in that particular room before, but could see my images glowing on the lightbox hanging on the wall.  As she showed me what they were concerned about, she explained that the Dr. examining my ‘results’ had requested a biopsy.  My knees buckled as the room faded to black.  Her voice sounded like she was speaking from the end of the tunnel as she guided me to a chair.

I sat there, alone and in shock for quite awhile.  Every time I tried to stand, the room would spin and I would nearly pass out.  Finally, they took me to a room where I could lay down.  I probably would have been ok had I not received the call from my attorney prior to my appointment. (too many stressers at once were rather overwhelming)  It took at least another hour before I could walk back out to my car.

A few weeks later, my older sister Jana accompanied me to my stereotactic needle biopsy.   The lady that checked me in was very sweet and assured me, “Don’t worry.  Only 20% of cases like yours turn out to be cancer.”  Though she was pleased with those odds, I certainly wasn’t. Frustrated that I couldn’t ask for a refund, I proceeded to sign all of the intake papers and listen to my post-procedure instructions.

I chuckled at the “Save the Boobies” sticker on the door window as I went into the room to rid myself of my clothing and dawn my glamorous hospital lingerie.

Laying on the hospital bed, my right breast poking through a hole in the table, I couldn’t help but wonder why this whole procedure seemed so archaic with all of the advances in medicine we have had.  I stayed relatively calm, breathing deep to ease the pain.  (They use some anesthetic, but not enough.)

When the needle finally reached its destination, the vacuum device that sucks out the ‘problematic tissue’ decided it would go on strike.  “This never happens,” they explain as they try to get it going again.  Finally, they explain that they have to REMOVE the needle, fix the machine, then reinsert it.  If memory serves me, the needle was about the diameter of a stir straw.  Not terribly huge, but big enough that they could suck something out thru the center of it. I wasn’t having fun to say the least.

The results that day were benign, thank you God.  I was asked to come back in 6 months, and then again in another 6 months.  Just as I was starting to get back into my annual mammogram routine, they discovered something in the left breast.  Simultaneously, my right breast developed an inch-diameter lump of painful scar tissue.

A week ago, I went for another 6-month ‘follow-up.’  The scar tissue has since been reabsorbed (or whatever happens to scar tissue) and the pain has subsided.  “If you don’t hear from us on Monday, you know you are fine.”  Monday came and went without a call, but I was still a bit nervous.  Yesterday, however, I received, for the first time in over 3 years, a letter from the imaging center.

“We are pleased to inform you that the results of your mammogram performed on 07/27/2012 are normal.”

I’m not really one to pray for specific ‘results,’ rather I pray for the peace and faith I need to endure whatever it is that comes my way. I gave thanks as my heart filled with gratitude in seeing that word in BOLD on that letter and then said a prayer for those that have been less fortunate.

Kahlil Gibran put it well when he wrote, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

Don’t take ‘normal’ for granted. EMBRACE every moment.

5 Responses

08.03.12

Your reaction to your doctors request for a biopsy was much like mine when I was pretty much diagnosed with lymphoma because some very enlarged lymph nodes were found though out my abdominal cavity in a cat scan NO biopsy had been done, it was more or less a “visual diagnosis” and it scared the HELL out of me. I was screaming NO, NO, NO inside my head. You have to listen to me – I have lupus, it’s my lupus causing my lymph nodes to be enlarged, not cancer!! You and 2 other medical professionals are WRONG, I know my body…. Lupus is BAD ENOUGH, I don’t have cancer, I can’t have cancer, I don’t have time for cancer, SLE (lupus) or Alzheimer’s will kill me, not cancer!! I was right, they were wrong.. so far, so good.. sometimes expressing ourselves in BOLD type isn’t screaming at all, it’s just reinforcing what our brains are telling us is right!!

08.03.12

We do have to be our own advocate, that is for sure. I’ve found that more in the case of my son than myself. LOVE how you put “expressing ourselves in BOLD”… So sorry that you were so scared, but glad that you were assertive and got your point across. (: <3

08.03.12

Elated for you that your test came back normal! Your blog struck home for me and it was also “extremely well written”. Kept my interest throughout with the descriptive style. As you know I’ve been one of those that got the “abnormal” (cancer) letter. Surgery and a few years later though I HAVE gotten the normal letter of which I’m very grateful and relieved each time. Well done!

I loved that added this: “Kahlil Gibran put it well when he wrote, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

08.03.12

i remember your ‘abnormal’ well and give thanks that you made it thru. i know you still live with the ‘consequences’ and it’s not always easy but you’re getting thru!! i love you and am so grateful for the support you and Becky have always given me. ((love you)) oh, and i really like that Kahlil Gibran quote too ~ :)

08.03.12

I (almost) feel embarrassed for picking out a blog in the category “mammograms” (I guess I just wanted to know if you’re okay) but I must say you are a good writer, you are able to “capture the moment” and write it down as a life lesson about something bigger than us. There’s a strong sense of “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries” to this blog. Very nice.

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