So I've been busy working and decorating, the past two weeks - believe it not, having one of the most peaceful and fun Christmas seasons I've had in years, despite COVID and all - when I received a call that there was a finding on my mammogram, and that I needed to come in for a diagnostic mammogram.
I was surprised, because breast cancer doesn't run in my family (well, my maternal grandfather's sisters, which lowers the risk rather than direct maternal line).
I immediately went into "think" and "stay busy" mode, rather than "feel" mode, which is what I do. I'm told that's my PTSD "autopilot" mode, but perhaps that's just conditioning with me, considering my weird life lol.
It's not denial, it's actually acknowledgement, acceptance - acceptance that I actually have no control over it - whatever's going to happen is going to happen - and so I just make sure everything is done and in place that needs to be, if/when it does happen.
So I got as much info as I could about the finding, and made up my mind to let go of the rest, just live my life and not fall apart until I knew more, and keep on doing what I was doing, just making sure I was enjoying my Christmas season more than ever :)
Besides, as I said, breast cancer doesn't run in my family, and these were calcifications in my right breast, and I learned in my research that 80% of the time they were benign.
I suspected these were fibrocysts that had calcified while going through menopause, because I'd had little fibrocysts up until about a year ago that appeared to "stop."
I am happy to report that this morning - after a diagnostic mammography - the results were as I suspected - benign calcified fibrocysts - with a return in 6 months to make sure there were no more changes :)
Once I got back to the car, I finally shed the first tear - of relief.
That's me - when facing something as serious as this, I don't feel much, I think instead - until I know more and/or it's all over - THEN I cry lol.
Mark wasn't allowed to go in with me, of course, due to COVID, which is fine - I've kind of grown accustomed to facing scary things by myself, over the years, I almost prefer it lol.
As a matter of fact, I've said very little about it since the call, and told no one except him and a very close friend - because quite frankly, there was nothing to tell and I knew it was likely benign.
But it was very comforting to be confirmed that it was benign :)
Mark held me close and has since, like I'd slip away or something if he didn't? lol
In fact, he got tears in his eyes and said, "I was scared. I didn't say it, but I was."
(That takes a lot for my former Army Ranger husband to admit, let me tell you.)
I said a prayer of gratitude for longer life, though I didn't earn or deserve it; and in fact, I know there's a lot of other women who deserve longer life more than me. And truth be told, I was already prepared for bad news, I haven't had the luckiest life, for sure. But I was still positive, accepting of whatever I had to go through - be brave, be strong, stay positive - you gotta do what ya gotta do, right?
Then my thoughts went to the other women in that waiting room - all races, all socioeconomic classes, all wearing masks and gowns that tied in the front that kept flying open, staring at their cell phones, avoiding eye contract with others - even though we're all in the same situation - same concerns and fears. I'm not sure why that is - tension? Unwarranted shame?
Then I thought about how you could figure out very easily who had a positive result versus who was negative, based on where they called you back to - if they called you back in the office doors, you had a positive result - back to the dressing room to redress, negative.
I can't tell you the sigh of relief I breathed when I was called to the dressing room.
But then my thoughts went to the 2 women out of the 6 or 7 in the room called back in the other room - the deep breaths they must've taken, knowing what that meant :(
So I said a prayer for these women, that they wouldn't feel alone - and as alone as we all felt and acted, in that waiting room - that God's presence would be felt and with them along the way.
Then I thought about the fact that tomorrow is my birthday - and how after a very unlucky, difficult life - how very lucky I actually am, when it came to this.
So I wished myself an early Happy Birthday - that benign diagnosis was one of the best birthday gifts I've ever received, let me tell you lol :)
Thank you, Baptist Health Lexington's state-of-the-art Breast Imaging Center.
And I'm also grateful to all the money poured into breast cancer research since the 1990s, when we knew less about breast cancer than most other cancers - which has resulted in earlier detection and better treatment, dropping breast cancer from #2 killer of women in the U.S. to #8 (debatedly), as well as being among the first cancers to identify genetic links, including both male and female carriers of the BRCA gene, which makes you more susceptible to reproductive types of cancer in both men AND women.
All in all, an extra reason to be grateful and celebrate, this birthday and Christmas :)
PS - I just now had time to visit my dear friend Cherie's blog, in the U.K., to make sure she was doing okay - and lo and behold, she had a picture of our beloved "Prince Harry the Heron" up, along with a beautiful quote Plum Village's Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnam's famed mindfulness Buddhist monk) about the miracle of life not being walking on water, but living in the present moment and simply walking on God's green earth - which oddly enough, was exactly what I had been striving to do, these past two weeks. Can I consider this spiritual confirmation, then? lol