Since it is Breast Cancer Awareness month (well, at least for one more day), I thought I’d share a story I haven’t really written about publicly till now.
For this mama, it is quite the scary story so it fits in with Halloween too.
I’ll never forget these words as long as I’m alive, ” Ma’am, we need you to come back in for a second diagnositic mammogram.”
I was on a walk with my dog, Scout, completely by myself when I got the call on my cell phone. I just stood there for frozen for a moment. I was afraid to ask my next question.
I asked the nurse, ” Do they think it is cancer?” I couldn’t believe that those words were coming out of my mouth about my own body. CANCER, The Big C! Is this some sort of bad dream? The nurse informed me they didn’t think so but they wanted to make sure and rule everything out.
I called my husband who was at home, 3 blocks from where I was. I just couldn’t wait. I was paralyzed with fear and disbelief. I relayed the information to him. He was calm and steady, I was a hot mess, y’all.
There was such rush of emotion and random thoughts. I was only 44. How bad would it be? How would my daughters handle it? Would Dan be ok? I’m way too young. Why didn’t I get a mammogram the year before when I was supposed to?
I was jumping to conclusions faster than a speeding bullet.
They didn’t say it was cancer or how bad it was. It could be nothing. It could be something minor. The only thing I knew was that if it was breast cancer, I was going to fight it with everything I had. I had too much to live for.
The only people that knew were my husband, myself, a few close family members and a dear friend who had just been through the same thing. This was serious and I was scared.
I’ve always tried to live by not worrying about things I have no control over. This time that just wasn’t going to work. I have several good friends who have recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. They jumped to the forefront of my mind. I remembered hearing the fear in their voices talking about their trips to chemo and radiation, side effects and pain.
Several days later, I’m in the Imaging department of our local hospital. I’m a nervous wreck. Dan is there to support me no matter what the news is. They take me to the back and start the mammogram process.
The machine breaks. (of course it does, that’s what my husband does for a living)
Finally, the tech gets the images. The doctor wants me to have an ultrasound too. Oh sweet Baby Jesus, this can’t be good. More waiting. Dan finally is able to join me. Ultrasound is done. More waiting.
After what felt like an eternity, Dr. B comes in looks at all the images, says things like, “that is interesting” and “Hmm” As you can imagine, I’m thinking this is bad. I can feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes.
Finally, he turns to me, smiles and says, Well, Tammy…Things look good. No sign of cancer” I’m not 100% positive but I am pretty sure I heard the Angels sing the Alleluia chorus right there in the room.
I felt this immediate sense of relief and calm wash over me. The last 5 days had been excruiating , waiting to find out if my life was going to change forever. My life didn’t change but my outlook on my health sure did.
A few days later, I shared with a couple of close friends about what had happened. Several asked why I didn’t say anything? To be completely honest, I was afraid to say it aloud. Somewhere deep down, I thought if I said it or talked about it publicly.. that it would come true.
Little did I know that cancer would staying in our lives, my step-mother would be diagnosed with Stage 4Pancreatic Cancer 7 days later.
I’m happy to put all that fear behind me and be able to move on. However, I guarantee I won’t be missing another annual mammogram ever again. I ask that you, my female readers, don’t either. We would make sure our daughters and friends do it, and we need to make sure to do it for ourselves.
As my Grandma Pearl would say, ” Sweetie, you can’t pour from an empty cup!”
Make sure to get your annual mammograms, if over 40 and always do self breast checks monthly, no matter you’re age. It could save your life.