Survivors Have Perspective

I feel like when people either face loss or are faced with their own mortality and given another chance at life, their perspective changes.  Priorities shift to what makes sense; the small stuff is less to sweat about and each day is received as the gift it truly is.

My mother is a breast cancer survivor (along with several other health challenges); my maternal grandmother was not as fortunate.  My sister and I often comment that it’s not “if” but “when” we will have to face that day.  I have friends who have survived cancer.  And one, right now, who is beating breast cancer with amazing strength, poise and grace.

So, my perspective shifts each time I go for that mammogram.  I have learned to take the whole experience in stride – schedule early in the day to get it over with, or to have the day to process the results.  Typically, because of my “family history” my mammograms or ultrasounds are scripted as “diagnostic” meaning I get to sit and wait in that in-between locker type room wearing that awful cape,  until the nice technician comes in to tell me “You are good to go, see you next year.” The “All Clear” I call it.  Usually I take myself for a pedicure at that point.  It’s well deserved.  Lately I have also take to having a friend on call, just in case.  Thank you to my BFF Lizardjag!

This time was different.  This time, my doctor did not prescribe a “diagnostic” but rather a “screening.”  I am not sure why. Was it payback for my reaction when I was pregnant and instead a mammogram had a breast ultrasound and the radiologist said, “You might want to rethink breastfeeding so that you can get your mammogram after you have your baby, given your history.”  WHAT????? WTF!!!!

In any case, I was a little surprised when last week the kind technician with the white hair who plays jazzy Rod Stewart while you are waiting in the dim lit room, told me “OK, that’s it.”  “Really?” I asked. “Usually you read it while I am here.”  She glanced down at the script. “No… this time he wrote it as a screening. You are seeing him next week.   He will review the results with you then.”  Oh… I did not like that; not one bit.  Too much time to think, obsess, wonder, worry… I did not feel up to a pedicure.  Instead I treated myself to a Zyr on the rocks, splash of seltzer, just enough cranberry to make it pink, double lime.  Just what the doctor ordered.

 I went through the next several days a little detached.  I looked at Ian and I cried.  What if?  How? What happens?  Then I became determined.  There is no way.  I am not sick and I will not be sick.  Each time I started to envision the possibility, I made myself shift the thinking.  For sure I don’t want to have that vision and manifest it into my life!

So, today when my doctor was tap tap tapping on the door of the exam room I said, “I hope your happy tapping is because you have happy news.”  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  All Clear!

This was worthy of more than a pedicure and so I took myself shopping.  I returned home with Ian, some new goodies and a fresh, grateful perspective.  I have another reprieve and I damn well plan to remember it each moment.  I am officially challenging myself to shift my perspective as though I have from this time until the next boob crushing mammogram to really, completely, dive right into this adventure without abandon; and during those hard to handle moments … pause, breath and exhale with grace.

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"a portrait of my child | once a week | every week | in 2014"
“a portrait of my child | once a week | every week | in 2014”

Ian with Grandma. I was nervous bringing Ian to visit the Professor’s mom at the Nursing Unit. But he was an amazing being of pure love. He was not bothered by the hospital setting at all.  Although he had not seen his Grandma in a while, his face lit up with love. He smiled and they touched fingers when she reached out. He laughed with her, gave her cookies and a flower, and wanted to sit on her bed. Then he climbed over to give her a kiss. I think it made her day. It most certainly made ours.

Dear Ian | This life is hard … and beautiful

Dear Ian,

By the time you read this you will realize that I write to you often.  I keep a journal where I jot down little notes every couple of days; or I write long letters when there is something really special I need to say.  I believe you will read these notes one day.  There are some that are really – really important.  This is one.

Baby, I want you to know that life is a beautiful, exciting, dangerous, terrifying, inspiration and disappointment all wrapped into one amazing journey.  There are going to be moments and sometimes hours, days or even weeks, when you feel like life just completely … sucks.  And you will likely be right to feel that way; because sometimes, well, sometimes it just does.  I hope to be there to hug you quietly or to say, “It will get better; it will work out.”  You probably won’t believe me. It is hard to believe.  You will wonder – What the heck does she know?

I need you to trust me here.  Just trust that things always get better.  In those moments, if I could, I would show you the future and you would see.  All of the good, and the bad, that happens in your life will make you who you are each day.  Whatever is going on, there is something for you to take away.  The more deeply you feel, the more it will hurt – but that is ok; because it means you are alive my darling.  And whether I am beside you to say it or if I am in another room, another state, or another … world … I want you to always remember that you are nothing short of a miracle.  Never, Never, Never give up. 

I Love You Always,

Mommy

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a portrait of my child | once a week | every week |  in 2014

a portrait of my child | once a week | every week | in 2014

Ian and I visited the Past Perfect Bookstore in our little town this week.  He had a ball pulling books off the shelves, handing them to me and then moving on.  When we were getting ready to leave he handed a book he had been carrying to the volunteer who was seated at the desk.  I do not know what motivated him to do this, but it was the sweetest thing I had seen all day.

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"a portrait of my child | once a week | every week | in 2014"

“a portrait of my child | once a week |         every week | in 2014”

Lately, as Ian settles in for the night, he will point to things that he wants in his crib.  In an effort to indulge him, and because I do find him irresistible, I hand him a book or two, maybe a stuffed animal (or two).  When I am not looking he will reach out to my nightstand and snag my alarm clock and sometimes my books as well.  Ultimately, when he falls asleep, we have a scene like the one above.