Last week, I had a routine mammogram. They’re never a party to begin with, but I had a couple reasons to be more nervous about it than most. My dad passed away from complications due to cancer last year. He was diagnosed late summer, and by mid-October he was gone. Also, I’ve had abnormal mammograms in the past, as well as a biopsy (which thankfully turned out to be benign). So, mammograms scare the crap out of me.
I had my mammogram on a Thursday, and by Monday I got the call I was dreading: another suspicious lump was found. The nurse wanted to see me again for another mammogram and diagnostic ultrasound to see what is lurking in there as soon as I could get in. Scary stuff. Luckily, I could get in for the follow-up appointment right away. I spent FOUR HOURS waiting for that appointment. Not long, right? But long enough to let my imagination run wild, jump to the worst conclusions and question everything.
I need to eat healthier. Where is that anti-cancer juicing book I bought?
I need to stay on top of my checkups. It’s stupid to put things off. Why do I do that? Stupid.
I should be nicer to my husband.
I need to spend more quality time with my kids.
If it’s cancer, was it caught early enough?
I DON’T want to do chemo or lose my hair. Would I look good in a head scarf?
I should drink less.
If I get another biopsy scar, should I get a tattoo there? That would be badass.
I should call my mom more often.
If I have to get a mastectomy, maybe I can at least can get new boobs out of the deal – is that the silver lining?
Hopefully it’s nothing. Stop thinking about it.
After the testing, I sat in a dark room and waited. I scrutinized the ultrasound images left on the screen, but to me they just looked like tiny indecipherable dots. Ultimately, after what seemed like forever and was probably just ten minutes, the ultrasound technician came back in the room and delivered GOOD news. The suspicious spot was actually a cyst. It was completely benign, and nothing to worry about. No further testing would be necessary. (HAPPY DANCE!!!!)
I realize that my results were good, others get bad news daily. I don’t take that lightly; and I know that my own “luck” will likely run out one day. After all, nobody gets out of this world alive. My days are numbered. And so are YOURS. Everyone’s are.
The older we get, the more of these little health “scares” we have to go through. While they’re really no fun, I do think that they make us appreciate life more. When we’re young, we’re naive and take so much for granted. The older we get, the closer we get to our “twilight” years the more often we’re reminded of our own mortality, which isn’t always a BAD thing. Those reminders can prompt us to make small changes in our lives to improve, appreciate, and become better people.
Health is probably the most important thing we have in our lives, but it can also be the one thing we take for granted the most. Just look around at what we do (or don’t do) on a daily basis to either preserve or abuse it. Going through this experience reminded me that it was my first scare prompted me to take control of my health and fitness. That was three years ago; which was also about the time I started working out and became a health coach. In hindsight, that “scare” was a gift. I hope to turn this one into a gift as well.
We can’t take ANY of our days for granted. When we’re born, we’re not guaranteed anything in life – a certain number of years, or a disease-free existence. We have to look at EVERY day as a gift and an opportunity to do amazing things. Take my advice; don’t wait for a “scare” to make some of those little changes you know you need to make. Take control of your health now. Be the best person you can be. Make every day count. If your days were numbered, what would you be doing differently in life? Do those things NOW.