Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Waiting for Togo(t)

Mocking the play "Waiting for Godot" in college theatre class, my classmates and I performed a silly parody of waiting for to go during which we were waiting for various things and how we handled it. This week, while waiting for word about a breast biopsy, I thought often about how difficult it is to stay in the moment and just be where we are without projecting thoughts into the future. Babies and pets are good at this, but me, not so much. I profess to have faith in God and try to live as such but when the shit hits the fan and I am tested, apparently I still have more work to do. This week was a test for sure. I found myself wavering back and forth between the worst case scenerio and the absolute best, hesitant to embrace either. As though we can really prepare for the worst, I felt that I needed to be armed and ready for anything. I know better. We can never really prepare and be completely emotionally ready for bad news. When my daughter was alive, I used to go through this process, always hoping for the best but proparing for the worst, or so I thought. At her passing, I think I was still shellshocked, so what's the point?

This week has been a test of strength but also a test of staying power. During the stress of it all, I was able to find joy in the small things...picking my daughter up from the airport after her month away in Turkey, a fun girls' noght out at the movies, wine on the porch with my husband, a long walk on a beautiful new trail with a good friend. I recall times during my first daughter's life when I had surrendered to the reality and seriousness of her illness and began to consciously appreciate small things like a plate of macaroni and cheese that she devoured, a day when her color remained pink and healthy, a sweet moment tucking her in at night... These small beautiful things are sustenance during times of stress and uncertainty. They may be fleeting, but woven together, they can get us through the obstacles of life with a bit more grace.

This morning when I got the call that all was fine, I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked God, and then called my husband. After that, I started reflecting on this past week. Waiting is hard, but aren't we always waiting for something? (I am recalling a Sesame Street song "Something to do While We're Waiting" and thinking maybe that was more for the parents than the kids.) Once again, I learned that it is not WHAT life throws at us that really makes the changes in us, but rather the HOW we handle it that counts. I guess I get about a B for this one.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

To Mammogram or not to Mammogram?

O.K. since my last post I feel that I have reached a bit of a conclusion as to the purpose of all of this focus on the boobies. It was not at all a coincidence that I was asked to host the Breast Cancer Awareness Hotline where I was able to talk extensively to a breast surgeon who was also a cancer survivor. She reiterated the importance of regular testing for women, emphasizing that a great majority of her patients were under the age of 50. Ugh! Scary stuff. Really scary. And fear is the overall emotion whenever the "C" word is mentioned.

A few days after this TV appearance, I had my own regular yearly mammogram which resulted in additional screening by sonogram and a recommendation of biopsy for calcifications in one breast. Now, I have been a good girl and for the past year I have gone back for diagnostic mammograms for these little flecks of calcium every six months. Well, I am not convinced that this is the best route but apparently it is my job to investigate. Calcifications that show up on a mammogram can be normal to the aging process or, showing up in certain forms on the mammogram, indications of a potential cancerous growth. Unfortunately, the determination of
the intention of these little buggers (calcifications) is complicated. Following their progress through mammography at six month intervals and biopsy is the current standard of treatment from traditional medicine. Not only are "the girls" exposed to lots of radiation from all of these tests (which may or may not contribute to cancer down the road) but often, false-positive results are garnered from all of this testing which creates more anxiety, more frustration in deciding what to do about treatment, and potentially unneccessary treatment.

I was just being the good girl that I am and following doctors' orders and now I am fraught with worry, my vivid imagination running wild. I am a normally positive person. I eat well, exercise and have a really good life. I don't need to bring any of this drama into my life. So, I have to ask what does it all mean? Without meaning, any of these bumps in the road are just nuisances. My mother has never had a mammogram and, at 73, probably never will. She tends to ignore negative things in her life or wash them down with a glass of wine or two. In the past I have called her on this, but now I am seriously considering adopting her life coping strategy. Yesterday, however, she surprised me by suggesting that I get a thermagram instead of a biopsy. I may have underestimated my Mother.

While thermography seems to be a viable adjunct to traditional testing, it is poo pooed by every medical doctor that I have mentioned it to. So what's a good girl to do? I can't help but believe that the meaning of all of this in unfolding for me. Stay tuned.

Here is a study I came upon that sheds a bit of light on the current situation in our country for bc diagnosis:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What a week! Or, what is God trying to tell me?

Well, this week I had a couple of nice gigs, hosting and voiceing a video and working again on ABC 7 as Host of another health related phone bank. The phone bank allows viewers to call in with questions about a particular topic. Both went really well and were a lot of fun. Meanwhile, I was scheduled for a couple of things that I had been rather dreading - the mammogram which was a couple of months overdue and gum surgery. The mammogram is always terrifying to me. I get so mad at myself for being so frightened because so many women have actually had to deal with the big C and I admire their courage so much. Having been called back for calcification watch on the left breast, I knew there was something to look at. Thankfully (maybe) I had a very diligent radiologist who looked at my films and she wanted to take a closer look by ultrasound at the other breast. The two women in the room (tech and radiologist) agreed that I had dense breasts and the area of concern was normal for me. We'll be watching that one though. Ugh! After the ultrasound the radiologist casually mentioned that we ought to biopsy the left breast because she saw more calcifications. Trying to assure me that she had been able to see them (the calcifications, which are normal to see on a woman's mammogram) pretty clearly and they looked benign, but just to be sure because there seemed to be more of them, we should biopsy. She went on to explain the procedure and how routine it was, blah, blah, blah. Still, it is scary and so now I am going through the process that so many women before me have been through of trying to stay positive while realistically looking at the possibilities. I feel that the trick is to stay in the moment, but what a tough thing to do.
So here I sit with puffy cheeks from my gum surgery and my normal response to stress like this would be to go for a run or get a massage but I can do neither. I guess I will have to sit and meditate which is what I have been called to do of late but have found it difficult. So, what IS God trying to tell me this week? With two health-realted freelance jobs and two medical procedures to deal with I can't help but think it's just time to pay some attention to my health instead of taking it for granted.
My goal through all of this is just what I told my "viewers" in my Oprah audition. To go through the changes and come out on the other side the better for it. I hope I can take my own advice. Stay tuned.