Sunday, September 9, 2012

Snapshot & A Song - Boom!

White arrows pointing to anything is not something you want to see on your mammogram film. I snapped this shot with my Blackberry a few weeks ago as I waited in the exam room for the mammography tech to get the ok from the radiologist that the magnification views she'd just taken of the suspicious area that these arrows were pointing out were sufficient.

A couple of weeks ago, I'd mentioned that Edwin McCain and his music had been on my mind for reasons I would go into later.

Well, this was the reason.

Right before my oldest son moved across country early this summer, we went to see Edwin together. At the end of the night he revealed that his wife had successfully been treated for breast cancer and asked him to use his platform to encourage women to get their mammograms.

Then he performed this song that he had actually written when his mother was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.

I got the news that a second screening would be required by mail the week before I went to Florida for business. My first instinct was to call my former boyfriend and just as quickly I remembered that he wasn't my boyfriend anymore. After all this time, I still want to call when "news" happens.

It is a lonely feeling, getting this kind of news as a single person, and there is no one to call. I think one underlying fear that most of us single folks share is that of growing old or facing illness and death alone. No matter that usually at least one party in a marriage will have to face the final frontier by themselves so having a life partner is certainly no guarantee you'll have someone to hold your hand at the end. I didn't say it was a rational fear. Its just one of those feelings that comes with the territory.

I have family that would be there for me, of course. But, I really didn't want to worry my children or parents unecessarily. So, I kept it to myself, went on my trip and tried to enjoy it as best I could. Although, I wasn't terribly concerned at that point the weight of it was starting to drag me down a little.

The doctor said the reason for the follow up were small microcalcifications on the right side. A little internet doctoring revealed that still 80% of these turn out benign, so I was still concerned but not freaked out.

After the second scan was done, my doctor called the same day and said I needed to see a surgeon immediately. Apparently, the number of microcalcifications had grown in number and size in that small span of time between the first and follow-up screenings.

Now I was worried.

The surgeon scheduled a stereotactic biopsy for Friday of the same week. What she didn't tell me at the time was the radiologist had rated me BI-RADS 5, which is highly suspcious of malignancy (greater than 95% chance)

I'm glad I didn't know that going in, but I did decide to tell my parents about it. I figured if it were bad news, it was better to get it in stages.

The procedure itself was fairly painless and the recovery quick and easy. However, since it was late Friday afternoon on Labor Day weekend, I had to wait until Wednesday for the results.

I rested a lot over the holiday weekend, even though there was no reason to take it easy beyond the first 24 hours after the procedure. The weight of the waiting was making me weary I suppose.

In this song, Edwin perfectly captured how truly world rocking even the thought of cancer can be:

"You don't have enough hands to cover your ears and your eyes
When it's hard and you don't want to speak it
'Cause the only sound that comes is, 'Why?'

Before I knew we were swaying like the trees
But they know how to bend and we're on our knees
I got a shock wave when it reached the speed of sound
By the time you hear the boom
The pain is raining down and down and down"



I held my breath and waited to see if the "Boom" would come, all the while trying to avoid playing Dr. Google and borrowing trouble from the interwebs.

Instead, I focused on evaluating how I was living my life and where I could make improvements for my health and well-being. I knew I'd been pushing myself way too hard to do too many things, and not taking care of myself as well as I should. Stress and overwhelm have been my constant companions for as long as I can remember and this past year has been especially hard.

If nothing else, I determined I was going to use this as a wake up call and some changes would need to be made. So, I researched anti-cancer diets and lifestyle changes that would improve my odds of not getting cancer or it not recurring if I in fact had to undergo treatment.

I re-evaluated all the activities I was involved in and made some hard decisions about some things that I needed to let go of. There are certain stressors that you have to learn to live with and manage effectively - like job stress, health concerns, family needs, etc... Then there are certain things that you are volunteering for and can be released.

One of those things was my participation in the art gallery, which had become way too much of a drain on my time and energy and was beginning to become more of a hassle than it was worth. I'd been feeling that way for awhile, and this pushed me to making a decision. As nice as it was to be able to display my art for the public, the relief I felt in letting it go let me know I made the right decision.

Finally, I spent some time dealing with my feelings related to loneliness versus solitude. Having a partner in life versus not having one. And, if I were to ever want to try it again, what have I learned from my past experiences that would help me choose someone who would stand by me through good and bad - someone who actually wanted to apply for that job knowing what it might cost. Because, as Edwin puts it:

"Love doesn't wait until it's easy
Love isn't only dancing under stars
Love's not just for rolling along like a summer song
Love's when it's hard"

This makes me think of a couple I once knew. The woman had struggled with brain tumors for years - going in and out of remission. She was a single lady and met this man who fell in love with her and made her his wife, knowing full well that he could lose her and possibly spend years taking care of her as she died. And, he did.

That is true love and I realize probably quite rare. But, her story has always been one that encouraged me to hold on to faith in the kind of love I want to believe in, the kind of love that lasts, and the kind of love that grows in imperfect circumstances with imperfect people. Maybe I'll find it. Maybe I won't. But, at least I've seen it and I know its worth holding out for.

Usually holiday weekends fly by, but this was the. longest. weekend. of. my. life.

I'd try to hold as many positive thoughts as I could, but I was prepared for bad news. I pretty much expected it. So, when the doctor smiled and told me that everything was fine, I was perhaps in more shock than I would have been otherwise. Shocked, but relieved.

All the calcifications were captured in the biopsy, so at this point, there's nothing to "watch." Because the radiologist was so convinced it was cancer, I will have a follow up in six months. But, the doctor says there was absolutely no evidence of cancer or pre-cancerous conditions.

Whew.

If I ever doubted the physical side effects of stress, what happened in the aftermath of this great news made a believer out of me. I felt like I'd been hit by a truck! My head hurt, my whole body ached, I shook with uncontrolled chills, felt feverish even though I don't believe I had a temperature. If I'd not just received a clean bill of health, I would have thought I was surely dying that night.

This went on for a good 24 hours after I received my good news.

Now, I'm starting to get my feet back under me and I'm starting to feel "normal" again. But, my normal of late hasn't been that great even though all markers of good health are checked off. Stress management and good self care are more important to me than ever, and I'm grateful that I have a solid platform from which to spring forward.


"Boom"
by Edwin McCain


Mamma said, "Let's shave my head today"
It's all gonna fall out anyway
The laughter rolled in first just like she planned
Then the tears fell out with strand
After strand, after strand, after strand

Love doesn't wait until it's easy
Love isn't only dancing under stars
Love's not just for rolling along like a summer song
Love's when it's hard

When it's hard and you don't want to believe it
You don't have enough hands to cover your ears and your eyes
When it's hard and you don't want to speak it
'Cause the only sound that comes is, "Why?"

Before I knew we were swaying like the trees
But they know how to bend and we're on our knees
I got a shock wave when it reached the speed of sound
By the time you hear the boom
The pain is raining down and down and down

Love doesn't wait until it's easy
Love isn't only dancing under stars
Love's not just for rolling along like a summer song
Love's when it's hard

When it's hard and you don't want to believe it
You don't have enough hands to cover your ears and your eyes
When it's hard and you don't want to speak it
'Cause the only sound that comes is, "Why?"

Love doesn't wait until it's easy
Love isn't only dancing under stars
Love's not just for rolling along like a summer song
Love's when it's hard
When it's hard, yeah, when it's hard



Ok, so its time to link up. Here's a few rules before we begin.

  1. Please give credit to the songwriter and/or group - preferably with a link to their website
  2. Link to your blog post or flickr page, not simply to your blog.  
  3. Tell us a little bit about your image and the meaning the song holds for you (more of a guideline than a rule, but it would be nice if you would
  4. Include a link back to my blog, and using my badge would be especially cool


snapshot and a song
 










6 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing- all of it. May your each breath bring you closer to a place of balance. xo teri

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  2. I had no intention of finding a song. I thought it would be too hard. Then this song came on and that was that. I feel much better now. Thank you.

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  3. *warm tight hugs* LeAnne...as a survivor of almost 30 years and a single mother for 15 years (until 6 weeks ago) your words resonated with me and my heart went out to you. Self care, self exploration, life re-evaluation...keep it all up LeAnne...*hugs*

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  4. I'm sorry to say that I was smiling as I read your post -- sorry because I was identifying with so much, having gone through a colon cancer scare and then another ovarian cancer one. The days that you have to wait are just interminable and you're in such an agony of anxiety. The last time I had an ultrasound I was brave enough to say to the woman, can you give me a hint? And she did go to the radiologist to ask and he said it all looked good, which saved me at least some anxiety. I'm glad you're fine.

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  5. I haven't been through what you have recently, but I can certainly relate to holding out for love and taking care of oneself. I struggle with both. I'm glad you are doing better, LeAnne.

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  6. Dang, LeAnne, I'm glad the news was good!
    I know what you mean about being afriad of growing old alone. Even though I'm married, I never had children and I'm not really all that close with my family or my husband's...

    ReplyDelete

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