Friday, May 4, 2012

Life Isn't All About Pretty Cups and Mugs

Today instead of focusing on things that make me happy like traveling, pretty cups and mugs, photography, etc. I want to share with you a story, a happening, a time in my life that you may relate to with a similar experience.  

It was a Friday evening in early March.  I remember I took a bath earlier and planned to spend the evening relaxing in my PJ's.  For some reason I began to feel my breasts, which I do on occasion just checking for any lumps, bumps or perhaps things that shouldn't be there.  There it was, a lump on my right breast, up high, but definitely there.  A wave of panic filled my body and I just stood there, shaking, feeling it again hoping the second time it would be gone and it would just have been my imagination.  But no, it was still there, definitely there.  My heart was beating so loud I thought surely my husband could hear it, but no, thank God.  He was in the early stages of Alzheimer's at this time and I certainly didn't want to panic him unnecessarily.  But oh crap, it was Friday night and my doctor would not be in until Monday morning.  How am I going to live through the weekend with this hanging over my head, or better said, this on my breast?

Saturday came and went in a daze.  Sunday I was on my knees in church praying, praying, praying that all would be OK, trying to be brave, singing the hymns, greeting those around me, but all the while thinking only of one thing...that thing.  On my knees, looking up at the crucifix of Christ, seeing him suffering on the cross, a peace washed over me.  Difficult to explain that sensation, but it was like having a burden lifted from my shoulders.  The feeling didn't last long, and perhaps it was only wishful thinking but never-the-less there was this unexplainable peaceful sensation that filled me up, that buoyed me on.

Monday morning 9:00 AM I was on the phone to my doctor explaining to the receptionist my story with my voice cracking and shaking, filled with fear.  It obviously came through loud and clear because the next thing I knew I was on the way to the doctor's office.  Up on the table, her hands feeling the spot, shaking her head in agreement, my panic began to rise.  The peaceful feeling I had felt yesterday was long gone.  Her first reaction was to get me into the hospital for a mammogram ASAP, but they were full-up with no openings until Tuesday.  Not wanting to wait even a day, she called her second choice and found a spot if I could get there quickly.  I had managed to go to the doctor's by myself, but getting the mammogram I felt I needed the support of my husband.  Arriving and leaving him in the waiting room, I whispered to the receptionist that my husband had dementia, would she please keep an eye on him as I walked through the doors alone.

Mammogram completed, the Radiologist came in to talk to me.  Heart again beating so loud it was difficult hearing her words.  After all the technical talk, the bottom line was that she felt that it could "be" something and that I should have "it" taken care of ASAP.  Panic again rising, she made a phone call to a surgeon that specializes in breast surgeries to make me an appointment again, ASAP.  Driving home with my husband, I could see tears rolling down his cheeks, telling me he should be the brave one, but what would he do without me?  So what did I do, turn to him and begin to comfort him.  That definitely took my panic away, now the focus was on him and not me.  Sounds weird, but it helped.

The next day I was in the surgeon's office with him also agreeing that I should have this taken care of ASAP and now the panic returned big time.  Now I have my doctor, the Radiologist, and the surgeon all telling me to get this taken care of ASAP.  That doesn't bode well for a happy ending.  Surgery is scheduled for Friday morning, my birthday.  Happy Birthday, Deanna.  Wednesday and Thursday were blurs.  My friend, Marti, took me to lunch sometime that week, can't remember if it was for my birthday or because she was feeling my panic.  The rest of the time I prepared physically and spiritually.

Friday came, surgery completed, all OK but no results until Monday.  What....Monday?....another period of extended panic and waiting.  We went home, I stayed close to the bed and sent Gary to the grocery store to pick up frozen dinners and canned soup.  Two things I thought he could handle and he did, sort of.  Thank God a couple of friends dropped off food.  I read a book most of the weekend to keep my mind focused on something other than "it".  Saturday and Sunday, two days that had always been my favorite days of the week, now for the last 2 weekends have been my most unfavorite.   The clock seemed to drag....tick tock tick tock.

Monday, the day of reckoning.  Today I would find out if I could breathe a sigh of relief or begin treatment for breast cancer.  My hands trembling I reached for the phone to make that call, the receptionist said, "oh no, you were not supposed to call, the Doctor will call you when he has the results."  Oh crap, now more waiting.  The phone didn't ring until after 1:00 PM.  Caller ID identified the call as coming from the surgeon's office.  Taking a deep breath, I said "hello", it was the nurse, not the doctor, telling me all was fine, test results were negative.   OMG breathe, Deanna, breathe.  What had begun 10 days ago with an early bath and PJ's was now over.  A week from hell now elevated to a heavenly peace and thankfulness.

We women all have times in our lives where suddenly life throws us an unexpected curve-ball.  If you would like to share those times, you are welcome to.  We women need the support of others who have gone through similiar experiences.  Life isn't all about pretty cups and mugs.


Kim Stevens said...

I surely relate to this Deanna - I was 23 when I found my lump, the size of a large marble that had not been there 3 months prior at my check up. I went to the doctor and she called an oncologist while I was sitting in her office and I was at the hands of a surgeon within days. It was a benign tumor, and I found out before I left (thank God) . . . the happiness I felt leaving with that information was unlike any I have ever felt. Hugs xo

Carol said...

Hi Deanna,
First of all - I am so glad you are well. We need your spirit too!.
I was struck by this because I just returned from my workshop meeting, as most of you know. This was the 3rd year there for most of us, and for some reason, in the midst of discussing the moodiness of black and white photography, we all just sort of opened up about our lives. All in roughly the same stage, and all having experienced alot of life. It took our group to the next level. Today I returned home to this personal post, and I see the same thing happening here.
I was always a tomboy, and it was always me and the boys earlier in life. At this stage of life, I so appreciate women, and their generous spirits, and their ability ( as you did with your husband) to comfort and empathize. Sharing the full range of life experiences effects us all.
Let's all continue to grow the love together. It makes the world a better place.

terriporter said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Deanna. How very scary that must have been. I went through a breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and eventual loss of my sister in 2005 and I watched first hand what it must be like to go through that. Like you, and probably most women, she was mostly concerned with how her husband and the rest of her family were doing and did her best to make it as easy on all of us as she could.

I agree with Carol. The women in my life are so important to me at this stage in my life. I am so happy that we are able to open up with honesty and love and share our lives with one another.

Leanne S. said...

Oh, Deanna.....I am sitting here with tears running down my face. I, too, went throught what you went through, and I know all the emotions that you talked about! Thank God you and I were okay, and everyday I pray that others get the same answer that we did. Sometimes I think we are handed little "tests" like this to make us sit back and realize all that we have in our life and be thankful. Like everyone else said, we rely on female companionship to help get us through and to have that cup of coffee with! As one of my patients said to me once-Everyday is a day of my life! and I truly live with that!

Linda said...

I'm glad there was a happy ending to your story! I was struck by the fact that your husband tried his best to help you and was so worried about you. I know that time was made even harder knowing he was suffering with dementia.

I love the quote on your picture! It's my favorite responsoral psalm in church! Yes, God was listening to you. I love how you felt His peace while in church.


Jolanda said...

What an awful experience Deanna!

Thankfully the outcome is good. Wake up calls like this shake you up and make you aware of what really matters. But that happens mostly afterwards, when the fear has faded and you start thinking and breathing again.



Dotti said...

This is an experience all of us as women can strongly relate to. We either have had, know someone who has, or will have(God forbid) ... a similar experience. There are some things that are just "girl things", that only we as women can fully empathize with. But, I do think you hit on a very important lesson: When we take the focus off ourselves and put it instead on our family and friends, our healing begins, our strength starts trickling back.

We are ALL so grateful that you and Leanne had such fortunate outcomes ... but that makes the experience no less scary. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with us today.


Tess @ Pro-tography 101 said...

Glad it came out can be a wake up sometimes.

Blondie's Journal said...

First of all, I appreciate you telling your story, it must have been a bit painful to go through, but if you have coaxes one woman into having her annual check up, then it is worth it. I went through remarkably the same thing when I was in my early 20's. Went to the doctor, then the oncologist, then the surgeon. What made the whole ordeal even worse, I was dating my husband who had lost his first wife 2 years prior to breast cancer. Although it was hard for him, he was my rock. My biopsy came out cancer and I never felt more relief in all of my life. My husband and I have now been married 25 years. We continue to take life one day at a time and hold it precious against our hearts. Thank you, Deanna!


Carol said...

I'm so sorry you went through that Terri.

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

When I first read this I was at work -- and just was heart sick for you.

You have been on my mind all day. I love this post, the personal the poignant and pain. I found myself heart sick thinking "what if" ... Me being selfish, thinking what if I hadn't gotten to meet you.

You are such an inspiration to me, as I have shared with you so many times before, but again one more thing to add to my inspiration list.

I adore you darlin -- ty so much for sharing and thank you for taking good care of yourself!!


Becky Sue said...

I remember when my Mom found a lump, the woman who was always a rock was devastated and went right to her bedroom where she stayed for I can't remember how long. My dad told us to stay away from her which was so very odd and disrupting. Thankfully, at least that time, she (we) received good news. Happy for you that your results were negative. hugs.

Rossana said...

dear Deanna, you are right! Life can be very hard, I know that very very well.. I've been watching your blog for the first time, and I empathized with you at once! I' very glad that your fears are over and that you can face your husband illness and the not easy days that are coming because of it. A big hug, forgive my mistakes, and my bad English (I'm Italian and live in Florence)...Love from Rossana

Barb said...

A terrifying experience told so honestly and I couldn't help but feel my own heart beating hard. I'm so happy for you that all turned out well.

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