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.