Last week I went to Rockdale Medical in Conyers for my mammogram as I do every year. And like past years, they squeezed my boobs until those little puppies cried for mercy. Afterwards I dressed and continued with my day as always. I knew that my little letter would come in the mail letting me know that everything was good. Thankfully that’s the letter I’d always gotten. However, the next day I was floored when Bunny from Rockdale Radiology called and said that they found a spot on my left breast that needed further examination. My heart dropped. I was immediately gripped by fear. I wanted the additional tests to take place that day, but the earliest they could get me in was the end of next week. I didn’t know how I would get through those eight long days without falling apart.
Two years ago my best friend, Cassandra Smith, passed away after a hard fought battle with breast cancer. I remembered when she told me that she’d found a lump in her breast. I remembered placing my hand on her breast to see if I could feel it too. It was so evident, so obvious that there was a lump. I took off to my bathroom, stripped and started a self-exam. I didn’t immediately feel anything. I made deeper circular motions and there it was, a small area on the left side of my left breast. But it didn’t feel like Cassandra’s, it wasn’t as pronounced. Was I really feeling a lump or was my fear playing mind games with me? I put my shirt back on just as confused as I was when I took it off.
By the time my family got home, I’d pulled myself together and showed no concern for the call I’d received. I very nonchalantly told my husband and son over the dinner table about the call I’d gotten earlier. Now fear was written across their faces, but I assured them that it was nothing. “For all we know there was a dust bunny on the mammogram machine,” I said. My dismissive behavior worked it’s magic, they relaxed and took a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Little did they know that my emotions were still raging, still all over the place. I didn’t speak of my fear until a few days later when I had lunch with a friend. As I told her about the need for additional testing the tears began to roll. She comforted me, told me everything was going to be okay.
As I waited for Thursday to finally arrive, I prayed, I laid hands on myself, and I prayed some more. Then my mind wondered to what if it’s cancer. I’ve already got sickle cell disease, could my body take on a cancer battle? With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I was suddenly inundated with everything cancer related. With hearing it all, my mind then went to planning who would get my treasured belongings, planning my services, giving my husband permission to quickly move on. You have to understand that I’ve seen this battle up close with Cassandra, with another friend, Alecia, who’s still in the fight for her life. Cancer is merciless, it’s a savage and on top of sickle cell, I didn’t know how I’d be able to fight it. To cast out those thoughts, I again began to pray.
Those horrible thoughts, the incredible fear was a lot to bear. This is the fear, the thoughts that my friends faced. For as much as I was there for Cassandra, all I could think of was how I wished I’d done more. I wished I’d been able to provide more comfort. Thursday came and my friend from lunch showed up to the hospital to hold my hand. Thank you Dawn! I had the additional tests and afterwards me and Dawn praised God and gave thanks that the spot was just my normal breast tissue that had grown slightly larger. Tears of joy and words of praise filled the atmosphere. I wished Cassandra and Alecia had been able to walk away cancer free as well. That brief walk in their shoes gave me a whole new level of respect for those that have been and are in the fight. Because I walked away unscathed, I must do more to help raise awareness. We all must do more to help raise awareness so that more of us can walk away unscathed. They deserve our love, support, and dollars. They deserve a cure.