Tuesday, March 17. Maybe I should’ve eaten some Lucky Charm cereal. At the clinic, the nurse practitioner looked at my underarm and breast, “It looks very suspicious.” She continued, telling me she’d had breast cancer eight years ago, and had a mastectomy. I thought, That may be your story, but it’s not mine. She scheduled my first mammogram for the following week at a nearby hospital. I was 44 years old. Mammograms were for women who had cancer, worried about cancer, or were hypochondriacs—especially if they had mammograms before age 50.
After the clinic, I headed to the beach and walked—and walked. I had a little chat with God, “Use me. Let me know what I’m to do—”
Just then a woman came running up to me, “Please help me! There’s a beached baby seal; I need you to keep people away from it while I get the city workers.”
The lady ran off and the seal started moving toward me—away from the ocean! “No. No baby. I’m not your mother! Oh geez!” When I got home I looked up what the seal totem represents: Listen to the inner voice. (The only inner voice I was willing to hear was saying this nurse practitioner was nuts!)
A week later, when the mammogram technician saw my breast, she went down the “this looks suspicious” road. Then she told me she’d had a mastectomy for breast cancer five years ago. I mused, How strange. Women who’ve had breast cancer feel that everyone else has it, too. These are bumps in my underarm, and the breast looks a little different—but cancer? Give me a break! She looked at the films, then showed me areas of her concern before sending the results down the hall to the doctor. On my way out, she gave me a little bag of promo “goodies.”
Unfazed, I asked, “Is this my ‘boobie’ prize?”
✔ Take naps. Just go with the flow. Get a satin pillowcase to ease the tugging on hair when it’s fragile. The satin feels a bit of a luxury at a time when they are far and few. I got a great price on www.overstock.com. They come in packs of two. Gift one, keep one!
✔ Ask those offering help to check in again down the road. Even if it’s once a month, by phone, e-mail, Skype, or greeting card. When people asked, “What can I do?” I had no idea what to expect. It was too early for me to answer the question. I wanted to keep my independence and live on my own, but knew I’d need help. My not giving ideas to people gave them the impression I had things under control, or didn’t want help.
✔ Take a close-up photo of your face before chemo begins. When you lose your eyebrows and decide to “paint them on” you’ll know where they go! When they do grow back, they come in fast. It’s amazing how the eyebrows frame the face.
✔ Realize now: No one will do the dishes like you, clean the house like you, or drive like you. Everyone’s doing their best out of love—and out of service for you. Allow them. Unless they’re doing something to endanger you, give up the power struggle now. You’ll experience different levels of car comfort, styles of driving, and food brand you like and don’t. A lot of this is trial and error. People do things differently, and it’ll serve you well to roll with as much as you can.
✔ Use antibacterial gel or wipes after going in public. Keep some in your car. Use the wipes on shopping carts. Wipe down your wallet if you lay it on the store counters.
✔ Smells/aromas can set off nausea. If you’re visiting them, go easy on the perfume or cologne. Be cautious gifting flowers or scented candles.
✔ Learn to be okay with silence. Some people feel they need to fill a break in conversation. They may want someone near, but not always talking. Some of the most powerful love and healing moments happen in the hush.
✔ Go to the store for them. Have follow-through. Put things away, or ask, “What can I do for five minutes to help out?” When a non-core support person would leave, I’d usually turn around to find something I wished I’d asked them to do, or wished they’d seen and done on their own. I valued service more than things given as gifts.
✔ Bring up the subject of a support group or counseling if you notice they’re depressed. Either contact an agency to get information to share with them, or ask them to ask their doctor for help. Often, a patient puts on a “good show” for the doctor by dressing up, smiling, engaging in conversation and not mentioning they’re at rock bottom. It would be easy for a doctor to overlook depression.
✔ Set up a time to Skype, if you can’t visit in person. It’s helpful for them to see someone.
You know you can’t make a new alloy without some meltdown. You’re just
adding a little carbon to your steel 😉
I trust you’re feeling better today.
Hang in there baby—and thanks for keeping in touch. I know it’s not easy to
do right now and I appreciate it.
Enjoy your beach day!
yes, well it sucks what the physical body endures
this is where transcendence happens
faith is key operative
but keep informed
let it go
go into the dark leviathan
your faith gets you out
hugs love faith