Like an Avenger?

This morning I knew where I was going. I got lost on my first visit to this destination.  I would not get lost a second time. After all, the first visit was only a week ago. https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2019/07/10/journey-to-somewhere/

I had not expected to be back so soon. It seems a bit surreal. I am not complaining. My doctor leaves nothing to chance when it comes to breast cancer awareness, prevention, and early detection.

Waiting for my name to be called, I witnessed her speaking with a family. Wearing scrubs and hair cap, she must have come from surgery. She approached the waiting family with confidence and kindness.

Observing this scene increases my confidence for today’s adventure.

As a result of last week’s mammogram, I am having a diagnostic mammogram on my left side, possibly followed by an ultrasound. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve been here before.

Would I rather be somewhere else? Most definitely!

Surprisingly, I feel calm. Prayers from friends and family bring peace. Yesterday there were moments of panic, but those have faded.

A text from my husband. Perfect timing. ❤

He always makes me laugh!

A sweet lady named Carolyn took my initial pics. She was kind, and I appreciated her procedure. During a mammogram, there’s a moment where the technician says, “Ok. Stop breathing and don’t move.”  But Carolyn continued speaking, “only four seconds.”

In those three little words, she acknowledged the pain and offered reassurance. Her voice gave me a focal point.

Back in my room, a text from my mom. 

My mom is using emojis!

More waiting. Will additional pics be required? An ultrasound? Not going to lie, my vote is for no more pics. But if necessary, I will take a deep breath and close my eyes, remembering each lasts only four seconds.

A quick phone call from my friend, Marina.

Carolyn returned with news-no more pics! However, ultrasound has been ordered. So, I wear my flowery Avengers’ cape a little longer. Once the ultrasound is complete, I will happily trade it in for some non-hero street clothes. 😉

All done! Results? The radiologist recommends repeating today’s tests in six months to make sure there is no change. Reports will be sent to my doctor. For now, I wait for her follow up instructions.

Why am I sharing the details of this personal experience? To encourage women to get their regular mammograms. To offer reassurance concerning additional testing. No, it is not fun. Yes, it is uncomfortable and sometimes scary. More importantly, it is life-saving. Early detection is key! 

And thinking of that flowery cape in terms of an Avenger? Well, today it made the whole ordeal a little more bearable. 

What a difference one week and a little humor can make!

Journey to Somewhere…

When making a journey, it’s helpful to know the name and location of the intended destination. When my day started, I thought the needed information was in my brain. I soon discovered it was not.

Today was mammogram day. It seems like I did this only yesterday. With the extra MRI and ultrasounds of this past year, that is not far from the truth. https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2019/03/31/a-pink-letter/

Because I now see a specialist, mammograms are done at a different place. Today was my first visit to the new location. I headed out with confidence, knowing where I was going. Except, I did not.

My short journey turned into quite an adventure. After finding a spot in the parking garage, I exited the elevator on the wrong floor. This mistake was not realized until I had walked to the opposite side of the hospital.

Asked directions and I was back on track! Except, I was not. I had asked directions to the wrong location. Now an awareness that I did not know the physical location or the actual name of my destination.

Thankfully, a kind nurse helped me find my way. After explaining exactly why I was there, she made a phone call, walked me out in the hall, pointed me in the right direction. She went above and beyond.

Finally, I knew where I was headed. Of course, now I was running late, and anxiety started to build. The elevator took forever. And the reassurance from that kind nurse began to fade.

After arriving on the new floor, I signed in and was told to have a seat. Everything was different. Not what I expected. Feeling unsure, I double-checked with the receptionist. Yes, I was in the right place.

My name was called! But after being checked in, I was directed to yet another floor. Great! Back at the elevator, feelings of nervousness returned. Where in the world was I going?

Then I spotted a lady holding the same paperwork. She smiled and we began to chat. After briefly sharing my confusion, she kindly guided me to the office where the mammograms actually take place. From that point, it was a piece of cake.

Needless to say, I was relieved to put this little journey behind me. Why had I not been better prepared? Why hadn’t I double checked the details? That would have been the logical thing to do.

Time for reflection.

My lack of planning, though not recommended, did leave me with some positives. Two different women, on their own journeys, took time to help. They did so with kindness and patience. Without these two strangers, my path might have been longer and more stressful. Their simple actions had a profound effect on my day.

Hopefully, I will not return to this place for another year. Next time I will know the routine. The name and location planted in my brain. More importantly, I will have the opportunity to remember today. Most likely there will be someone there feeling like I felt.

In the meantime, there are other journeys to take. Some short, some long. Some fun, some not so fun. All filled with opportunities. All filled with people. People who feel uncertain. People who need a friendly smile. People who need help getting somewhere.

A Pink Letter

Pink is such a beautiful color. Small amounts of reds blended with white to create a calm, reflective palette. One which reminds me of springtime and flowers blooming. Maybe a lovely dogwood tree or cherry blossoms.

If you’ve had any experiences related to breast cancer, you recognize this color as a symbol. A symbol of awareness, support, solidarity in the pink ribbon. I’ve worn this ribbon on my clothing with a simple safety pin. My mom wears it around her neck daily, a reminder of her survival. I have a wooden pink ribbon in my front yard to honor my mom and remind me of my sweet friend Shannon. https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2018/09/04/instant-friends/

The pink ribbon.

Pink also serves as a guide at the facility where I have my mammograms. Lovely pink signs direct me to my parking space. Simple reassurance that I am in the right place. A reminder the people here always take good care of me.

This beautiful color provides calm during sometimes stressful times. Over the past sixteen years, I’ve faced quite a few of these times. Physical changes which required additional mammograms, ultrasounds, a lumpectomy, biopsies, MRIs. Thankfully, none of these tests resulted in cancer.

This past week I faced that MRI machine once again. And although cancer had not been mentioned, my thoughts drifted in that direction. After so many positive results, for which I am grateful, I began to think, “This may be my time.”

I know this thought process may not be logical. But it was my way of preparing myself, not that that kind of preparation is even possible. Nonetheless, such was my state of mind.

My follow-up with the doctor to go over the MRI results was scheduled for one week later. I was not expecting to hear anything before then. Simply feeling relieved to have made it through the MRI process, my worry began to subside a little.

That brings me to Friday afternoon, three days after the MRI. The first one home from work/school, I let the dogs outside and walked to the mailbox. There was only one piece of mail waiting-a pink letter. Pink. I knew where it was from before I even read the return address.

You might think I ripped it open, standing there in the driveway. But no. I walked back inside, confirmed the return address, and calmly opened the pink envelope. The letter inside was the same shade of pink. I read the beginning words, “We are pleased to inform you…no signs of cancer.”

A flood of relief and excitement, I relayed the happy message to my husband, kids, parents, friends…and prayed a whispered, “Thank you.”

This particular shade of pink will continue to play an important role. It will remind me of friends and family who are survivors. It will remind me of those who are currently fighting. It will remind me of those who have died. It will remind me of the importance of early detection, and the need to continue being proactive where my health is concerned.

Always get your mammogram!

And it will remind me of one particular Friday afternoon. A Friday afternoon when I received a pink letter in the mail.

Look to the Future

As I sit in a waiting room waiting to have a mammogram and ultrasound to check out a spot, I notice words along with the flowers on my pretty pink gown. I snap a picture, zoom in and see the word future.

So interesting. All week I’ve been talking to my students about how their attitude today affects their future. And here I sit with this word on my pink gown. So, what is my attitude at this moment? Honestly, I’m a little nervous. I keep telling myself it’s probably nothing. I’ve been through this before. But there’s always that nagging thought in the back of my mind. What if it’s something this time?

Our conversations at school stemmed from learning the song “Look to the Future.” I’ve been singing this song every day with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. It’s a positive, upbeat song and I love the lyrics. The chorus says:

Look to the future
What do you see?
I see peace, and plenty, and harmony

My favorite line from the song is-Tomorrow’s world is made from words of today. For me, this line means we must live in the moment while recognizing today’s impact on the future. Initially, the words today and future seem to contradict each other. But they actually create balance when viewed together.

These discussions with my students are very much like ones I’ve had with my own children. You cannot make decisions today based on what-ifs, especially if the “what if” is followed by something negative or some terrible fear. Focusing on all the things that could possibly go wrong makes it difficult to see any hope for your future.

We certainly shouldn’t live today afraid of what might happen tomorrow or five years from now. There’s no peace in that. However, we must take responsibility for our words, choices, actions, attitudes.

So how did my conversations surrounding this song impact my current situation? They provided the perfect reminder, along with the word on my pink gown, not to worry. Yes, the question still looms-What if it’s something this time? If it is, I will be ok. I will continue to live one day at a time. That’s all I’m promised anyway. And with that perspective, I can look to the future with hope.

FYI-My test results were good. Follow-up in 6 months to make sure there’s no change. Also, my mom is a breast cancer survivor. Always get your regular mammogram. It is so very important!