Every year, the 3D mammography mobile visits my work site. Just like a married couple plans and celebrates their anniversary, all my co-workers in the “over 40” crowd schedule our annual breast exams. Then we are good to go until the following year when this million-dollar “doctor’s office on wheels” returns. My results have always been normal—until last year.
I received a certified letter from the hospital requesting a follow-up screening. I can’t even begin to explain how news like this affects one’s mind. Besides thinking about my family, friends, and loved ones, I began to lament about all the places that I wanted to go and see but never got a chance to, due to work, kids, church, finances… The excuses were always present.
With my medical insurance plan, I had to retrieve a prescription from the primary doctor’s office for these additional digital views. Before the visit, I did do some online research and discovered that it may not be uncommon for a provider to ask for a patient to return. I was certainly hoping for the best. Finally, I was summoned into the exam room where my primary doctor assessed me. She said she felt something in the tissue, and that scared me to death. Before I even made it to the parking lot, I already sincerely believed that I was a goner. The mind can be a very imaginative tool.
Within twenty-four hours, I’d liquidated my assets, paid off my debts, prepared custody documents, updated my beneficiaries, and booked a two-week trip with my spouse to Dubai. I figured that if my time was limited, then I’d rather go in a blaze of glory as opposed to a hospital bed. I kept asking myself: Why did I choose to work so much? Why did I rarely take the initiative to travel and to treat myself? It seems as though my mentality was to always “save for a rainy day.” Now that the storm had arrived, it was not an umbrella that I was seeking.
At last, it was time for me to take my referral to the hospital for my follow-up screening. On the car ride over I was crying hysterically and shaking with nervousness. I could barely eat my breakfast that morning and wondered how much time I had remaining. I was calling myself the biggest idiot for failing to seize the day back when I was healthy. Hindsight is truly 20/20.
After the exam, the radiologist casually called me into the conference room and with an amazing smile, simply stated, “Your good!”
“Excuse ME?” I replied with utter confusion.
“Your results are fine. Just a little calcification. You are free to go. We’ll see you next year.” And then she walked out of the conference room, leaving me there alone.
I was shocked and bewildered. I was angry. I was trying to understand what had just happened. But then I had a dramatic epiphany. Maybe this is exactly what I needed to refocus my priorities and my time. In retrospect, if it had not been for this experience, I think that I would have spent another decade or two just thinking about Dubai as opposed to actually going.
I am grateful every October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I will continue to pay homage to survivors all over the world, those graceful warriors. Besides education about mammography screening and early detection, I will encourage all women to ramp up their bucket lists while we are still able—especially my mother who is currently fighting after a stage-4 diagnosis.Leave a Comment