Of all times to get a call from the folks who did my mammogram! It was four days until Christmas. One thing I noticed right away was that the lady on the other end of the phone spoke softly and slowly to me in a pleasant, non-threatening voice.
“Tierney, the doctor said there had been a change from your last mammogram. Further tests are required. I’m calling to set that up for you now.”
“So how long can I put this off? I mean it’s Christmas.”
The voice continued with the comforting tone. “As soon as possible. How about day after tomorrow?”
“Is that necessary?”
“We always like to get right on this.”
The compromise was I’d come in four days later than they wanted me. Apparently I should plan to spend 3-4 hours sweating it out. I reasoned if I went two days before Christmas I would just boo-hoo if the news was bad. Then again it might be nothing and I could brag I dodged a bullet. Of course by waiting I’d have a few extra days to imagine myself lying in a hospital bed with a bald head and no breasts.
By the time my husband arrived home to take me out to lunch a dam of tears poured onto the credit card bill, blurring the amount I owed. So this was a good thing since the hubby had no idea until that moment how much I spent on Christmas. I like to think of it as a Christmas miracle. I got a lot of “honeys, sweeties” and small talk after that. Another Christmas miracle because he isn’t such a big talker. At one point I almost said, “Shut up already! I’m okay.” Of course he made himself sick over it so I kept quiet. I also kept quiet over Christmas. My kids were kept in the dark and had no idea what I was about to face.
I cannot tell you how many cancer stories people told me in those next few days. Then there were the St. Jude Hospital commercials and news stories about stunning breakthroughs in cancer research. And yes there were a number of breast cancer stories too. It’s my own fault. I prayed for God to rescue me from worry, from fear, from punishing myself with self-doubt. And as depressing as all that sounds I really did feel better. What I acquired was hope, insight and belief that whatever the outcome it wasn’t a death sentence. It was a chance to experience what so many people suffer when getting a terrifying diagnoses.
My husband insisted on going with me even though he wouldn’t be able to go back where the screening was done to hold my hand. He is an engineer. I could imagine his expression seeing the process of one of the mammograms and his immediate comment that it was the most inefficient thing he’d ever seen done on a person. Admit it, ladies. If a man had to put his goods on the line like we do, the problem would be solved with a pill and a nice rosé a long time ago.
He dropped me off at the door and I told him I’d call him when I was almost done. I insisted he go to Best Buy to get his new computer set up. I couldn’t imagine him sitting there for hours reading a Tom Clancy book with people coming and going wearing the expression of someone who might be on the verge of experiencing a zombie apocalypse.
Again nothing turned out the way I expected.
Please. Please. Please. If you haven’t gone to get your mammogram in a while make an appointment today. The life you save could be your own. Join me tomorrow for the #3 in this series. I would love for you to share your experience with cancer screening or the demon you faced in fighting back. You never know who you will touch with your story.