12 February 2015

False Alarm

safety in numbers

As we drove down the highway for my third and fourth mammograms in ten days, I wished I could be home taking pictures of the gorgeous, fluffy snowflakes instead of heading toward Invision Sally Jobe yet again.

Two hours later, I wished I could be talking snowflakes with my sonographer instead of gritting my teeth, holding back tears and trying to keep the fear from shivering me timbers. The woman performing my first and second ultrasound of the week was decked in snowflake jewelry, and her coffee cup was decorated with snowflakes. But she had a job to do, and I didn't want to distract her.

Two hours later, my husband and I were scheduling a next-day biopsy for me. I was tasked with tracking down previous mammograms done aboard mobile units; my family physician had recently retired, I wasn't notified, and I had no idea where any of my medical records were hiding.

Yet I continued telling myself, "I will be strong. I will be brave. I will be a good example." An occasional tear would escape, but my determination and stubbornness were pulling their weight. No matter how many times I must repeat this process, it never is less scary than the previous instance.

Smile and Wave, Boys, Smile and Wave
Smile and Wave, Boys, Smile and Wave

Strong and Brave, Girls, Strong and Brave
Strong and Brave, Girls, Strong and Brave

I spent the next hour trying to make sure my desk at work would be covered during my unexpected absence. Wondering how I would pay for Ride the Rockies now, yet taking courage because my deductible would be paid just three weeks into the new year. Wondering if things didn't go the way I hoped, would I still be able to do Ride the Rockies if we were drawn? If surgery and chemo were required, would recovery prevent me from doing what I've been planning since last summer? Do I even want chemo or radiation?!? I've always thought I'd say no...

I decided the only thing I need to worry about for the moment would be getting up Pikes Peak in September. Whatever happens, I would do whatever it takes to be ready to scale that peak in a little more than eight months. I would have plenty of time to keep that goal. No matter what.

I looked at the pink snowflakes on the door to my office at work. I'd gone on a pink snowflake-crocheting spree a year ago when I ran out because I always send pink snowflakes to my friends and loved ones who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or who are caring for someone diagnosed with breast cancer. I had filled my door. Now, there are several holes again. Because I have to keep sending away more pink snowflakes.

The girls I work with and I decided the goal should be no more holes in my pink door. We don't want anyone else to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

I wondered if I might have to fill it one more time. For me.

Pink Snowflake Door

I didn't sleep at all that night. I couldn't.

We had to be at the surgical center for a total of nearly three hours the next day, but the actual procedure was over in about 15 minutes. I slept for six hours straight once we got back home.

The next day was the longest day. It always is after an experience like this. Every time I left my desk, I returned to find a red light on my phone (which means a message left), and I'd grit my teeth. Each time, it was work-related.

I thought perhaps I'd have to wait until Monday, which sometimes happens when a biopsy is performed at the end of a week. I had been instructed not to ride ("too much upper body"). So I decided I'd quilt instead.

At the last viable moment of the work week, the phone finally rang, and it was THE call. THE.CALL.

All clear, once again. Just cystic fiber. Again. Everything would be all right for another six months, or perhaps a year. One more time.

Relief caused me to melt into my chair. Sleepiness caught up with me. Stress took wing. I noticed the glittery pink heart on my computer sparkle for the first time all week, and I whispered a prayer of gratitude.

Snowflake on, Snowcatcher. Snowflake on.

Pun Intended Snowflake

16 comments :

  1. Awesome news that everything came back all clear. Nothing is more scary than the wait. I have always said no way to chemo or radiation as well should I get it.

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    1. Thanks, Pat. Words cannot describe the relief that washed over me, and yet sadness for the women in the surgical center who did not receive the good news I did...

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  2. I love the penguins! I've never had to wait for "the call" to come in. I can't imagine what that was like. What I do know, I'm going to have you sing Katharine Lee Bates America the Beautiful from the summit of Pikes Peak.

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  3. Great news! Sorry you had to go through so much. I hope I never have to go through this!

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    1. Thanks, Charlotte. I wish no one would ever have to be diagnosed with cancer.

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  4. Karma.......... one words says it all

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  5. Oh I am so glad..... what a scary ride!!

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  6. You definitely got that right, Alicia.

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  7. Replies
    1. Thank you, Barbara! I am cry thankful!

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  8. I've received that call, with different results, I'm afraid. Not a fun time. I said yes to chemo, mastectomy, and radiation, and yes to life! That was six years ago, and I'm still here and healthier than ever! My heart clutched for you, and I'm so relieved you had a false alarm. Whew!

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    1. Wow, Carole... WOW! I think I owe you some pink snowflakes!!!

      Thank you for words of inspiration, and I'm so glad you made it through your ordeal. Congratulations on being a triumphant survivor!

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  9. When you sing on Pikes Peak, make sure Lizard records it with his camera! Because I want to hear it.

    So sorry you had to go through this stress, and so glad (but you already know this) it turned out all right in the end. Hugs to you.

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    1. I kind of have this picture (or video) in my head, Sue, of me twirling in the parking lot, lifting my bike to heaven, and The Lizard recording it while moving around me in the opposite direction, and then we'll slow the video down and put it to some great, inspiring music...

      I shoulda been a film producer. Tee hee hee!

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