Three weeks ago I had a routine mammogram, my first ever. I blogged here about how easy it was and how confident I was that my results would be normal. I was nonchalant about it since I have none of the high-risk factors. Mostly, I went just to appease my doctor and my husband. Well, the results of that first screening shocked me.
When I received the findings in the mail a few days later, I couldn’t believe it. I had to have a repeat mammogram because they wanted to take a closer look at my right breast. The words “strongly advise” were written in bold letters – not very reassuring, to say the least. My doctor had already booked another appointment. All I had to do was confirm.
I can count on one hand the number of people I told about my first test and second mammogram screening. I know that many people would have rallied around me but there was no point in worrying them. But I worried, and so did my husband. We kept it to ourselves and just carried on.
I got the results yesterday. The Nurse Practitioner who works with my doctor gave me the great news that the second screening was negative. It seems there was some sort of distortion in the first test; however, she did say that they booked me for a third mammogram in October just to be sure.
I was in the middle of a crowded Costco parking lot pushing an overloaded grocery cart when she called. I let out one of those head-tossed-back, deep belly laughs – I was so relieved. When I got in my car, I started crying tears of relief and gratitude, bawling my eyes out, actually. It was a very long three weeks and I think I was in denial about how scared I really was. My husband said he had to sit down when I phoned him with the news. It was a scary three weeks for him, too.
This has been a wake-up call for me and I am very grateful for it. All too often, I think those of us who are busy juggling so many things in our lives don’t stop long enough to check in with ourselves, whether it’s going for that test the doctor advised or getting in touch with our emotional and spiritual well-being. That’s certainly the way it is with me. It’s time to make a serious change.
I was complacent, even arrogant about my health since I’m a very healthy woman. The warning that something could be wrong with me made me realize that I have to stop taking my health for granted, not just for myself , but for those who need me the most. I am not invincible.
I am also not in control. No matter how well I plan my life, stuff will happen. Ultimately, my life belongs to Someone else, and He’s calling all the shots.
In the days between reading the letter and receiving the second set of results, I prayed, but not for whatever was in my breast to go away. Somehow, it didn’t seem important to pray for that. What I prayed for was the strength to accept whatever was going to happen. I wanted to protect my family so I prayed for them. I prayed for faith. Don’t get me wrong. If needed, I would have taken whatever treatment the doctors advised. It’s just that I would like to think I would have done it all in the light of faith and the sure knowledge that whatever happens has the hand of my loving Father on it.
For many other women who received their results on the same day – and men, because they can develop breast cancer as well – the news may have been very different. They may have cried too, but for other reasons. My heart goes out to them and to their families and loved ones.
If you’ve been avoiding that mammogram, please just make the appointment. Don’t put it off for two years like I did. If you know someone who keeps making excuses, you need to convince them to pick up the phone. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing but there are worse things. At most, it will take an hour out of your life and it could very well save your life. Do it. Now.
As for me, my October mammogram can’t come fast enough. For now, I will be grateful for each day I have been given.