My First Mammogram
Last Wednesday I had my first mammogram. I was feeling really good about myself as I sat in the little booth, waiting for my turn. Not only was I “checking the box” for my mammogram, but I also had an appointment on the books for a pap smear.
The plan to schedule a colonoscopy after my next birthday was running smugly through my mind as well. Look how put together I am, I thought to myself. I am so on top of this medical-middle-age-testing stuff.
The mammogram wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Within five minutes I was back in the booth, waiting to be told that I could get dressed and leave. The kids (and the dog) were outside, waiting for me in the car, so I was anxious to get out of there quickly.
The technician came in and said, “We need to do an ultrasound, they saw something on the mammogram.”
“What?” I said, more to myself than anyone else. I was surprised because I do self-checks all the time, and hadn’t felt anything. The ultrasound was surreal. I watched numbly as the ultrasonographer measured the oval-shaped lump in my right breast.
“It’s definitely solid,” she said. I knew that cysts usually had liquid, and were usually ok. “Solid” did not sound good at all!
Next they ushered me into another doctorish room, and told me that I was lucky because the head breast guy was there. Would I like to see him now? That way he could examine me, then they could schedule a fine-needle biopsy for next week. Schedule a WHAT?
The doctor came in, and asked me if I had ever been exposed to radiation. Did anyone in the family have cancer? At what age did I have my first child? Was I a smoker, etc. I was secretly, silently losing it. It reminded me of the time I went in for an ultrasound in 2010, and my baby had no heartbeat.
Because I had been taking ibuprofen recently, I had to wait a few days to do the biopsy. You can guess what I did during that time. Like any woman worth her salt, I searched Web MD and other sights exhaustively for “breast lump,” “benign breast lump,” “breast cancer,” and “breast cancer treatments.”
I thought of all the women I knew, that went through breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and cervical cancer. How had they gotten through it? How did their lives seem so normal now? How did they deal with losing their hair? If I found out that I had cancer, would I wear a wig or just go bald?
Would I be able to get through a year of treatments? What if I didn’t have a hopeful prognosis? Why was this happening to me? Had I waited too long to have my first child? Didn’t I breast feed long enough?
Learning to Trust the Lord, and Be Thankful in All Things
Luckily, the next day, I went to a friend’s house for a Bible study. She suggested the following verses:
Rejoice in the Lord always, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 4-7
I had read those verses many times before, but they had never really reached my heart. So I was supposed to pray, instead of searching every possible symptom and scenario? Was I also supposed to be thankful for this fear, or an unhappy outcome?
There was one other time in my life when I had a symptom that made me think I was dying. In 2004, I began having trouble swallowing. After visiting my family doctor, the emergency room, and a specialist (who also did a scope on my esophagus), I finally accepted the diagnosis of acid reflux.
I thought my symptom was too painful and severe to be caused by something simple like acid reflux. Dr. Jenkins, the first Dr. that I saw regarding my problem, told me it was acid reflux. But I didn’t trust him. I could have saved myself a whole lot of money and trouble if I had only believed the man who had probably been a doctor For at least 50 years. I spent around $2000 for something that should have only been $20.
With the breast lump, I was going to trust the doctor, regardless of the outcome after the biopsy. I could trust him, because I could trust God to give him wisdom. I prayed. I asked God for the peace that passes all understanding, and I thanked Him for the trial.
After that I stopped frantically searching stuff on my mobile phone, and I made an important decision. In the future, I was going to trust that God is in control of my health, and my life.
I am not promised tomorrow, only today, and I don’t want to spend my time here on earth worrying about things I cannot change. My need to be in control, and my doubting nature may not completely change overnight. But every time the doubts creep in, I will go back and read Philippians 4, and then pray.
The Moment Every Mom Fears
The night before my biopsy, my daughter broke her collar bone on the softball field. For the second time that week, I felt like I was in a movie. One minute she was bunting. The next minute she was flipping head-first over the first baseman, who was trying to field the bunt. The next thing I knew, my child was lying flat on her back, unable to move.
I knew that moms were not supposed to frantically run on the field and make a scene. First, my husband, who is one of the coaches, went onto the field. After that she still hadn’t gotten up, and I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to go on the field and tell my baby that her mama was there. The trainer thought her collar bone was probably broken, and he was right.
We went to the emergency room with our two younger girls, our injured daughter, her boyfriend, and one of his friends. Of course we had the dog with us as well.
We were all uplifted by the people that came with us, and the coaches that came to see her. They provided much-needed support and comic relief. After we left the hospital, our daughter spent a pain-filled night in the recliner while I slept on the couch and gave her Hydrocodone every four hours.
We were all grieving because the injury meant the loss of the majority of the softball season. I tried to think of reasons to thank God. I was very thankful that it wasn’t her neck, her head, or her back.
My husband was grieving also because he had been looking forward to riding the bus with her, and having great fellowship. It was an awesome side benefit to his acceptance of the coaching job. Also, the head coach had recently issued personalized sweat suits and bat bags to every player. Now my poor darling would not get to use hers.
On Tuesday I went in for the needle biopsy. In spite of all my prayers, I was still literally scared to death of what they might find. I thought a lot about the speed in which we receive medical care here in the United States. Even though it seems like we have to wait a long time for testing and call-backs, we do receive quick, excellent care most of the time. I was thankful for that.
On Wednesday the bone doctor told us that our daughter’s collar bone would need surgery. The bones were currently overlapping each other by 2.8 centimeters. During the procedure she would be placed under general anesthesia, and a titanium plate would be screwed to the bone.
After her appointment I took the dog for a walk. The past few days had been a blur, and I just needed to go outside and think. When I came back into the house, my daughter told me that the breast doctor had called. I called him back immediately, of course. “You have a benign fibroadenoma,” he said. I was immensely relieved, to say the least.
My daughter rejoiced with me regarding the benign breast lump, even though she had to wait another three days, in pain, until the surgery. It seemed like we were constantly texting people and making phone calls, trying to keep everyone updated.
She was a great patient, with a pleasant attitude. I know that my heart would have been pounding out of my chest, had I been in the same situation. She laughed when they put her very BIG hair into the surgical cap, and patiently endured all of the pricking and prodding. She didn’t even get nauseous after the anesthesia.
Of course the nurses were excellent. In each medical setting we encountered last week, everyone had been kind and compassionate. I don’t see how they deal with so much pain, sickness and fear (and probably lots of uncooperative patients) on a daily basis.
We are so grateful for all of our friends and family that brought her gifts and candy, and provided childcare for our younger children. It was comforting to have our oldest daughter and all of the grandparents in the waiting room with us during the surgery. The experience strengthened my resolve to be an awesome grandparent too, if God blesses us with grandchildren someday.
I am so appreciative for God’s grace, and humbled by all of the blessings bestowed upon us during the past seven days. However, the BEST thing I feel thankful about regarding last week is that it is over, at last.