For eight days in January, I thought I had breast cancer. My routine mammogram had shown a “questionable developing nodule,” and the doc wanted me to come back for more views.
When I got the “more views” call, my mind jumped over “questionable” and went straight to “developing nodule,” “nodule” being a six-letter word for the four-letter word “lump.”
As I waited for the follow-up testing, I planned who I would tell, and how, when the cancer was confirmed. I considered which commitments and responsibilities I would unload so I could proceed with my treatment regimen. I wondered how that regimen would differ from my first go-round with breast cancer not quite 20 years ago, when I had three surgeries, chemo, radiation and five years of tamoxifen, a drug which can keep hungry little breast cancer cells from getting the estrogen they need to multiply. I even flipped through the L.L.Bean catalog looking for tops with puffy fronts in case I became totally flat-chested.
I knew this kind of thinking was foolish, but it was irresistible.
I was relieved when the radiologist decided that the new mammograms showed “summation of tissue” and not a lump—but my relief was marred by a streak of disappointment.
I had liked the part about unloading commitments and responsibilities; having breast cancer would have given me an excuse for kicking back.
It’s a bit of a wake-up call when you realize you’re feeling so overwhelmed that you think having breast cancer would make life easier.
There is no reason for me to feel overwhelmed. I am retired and my children are grown; my stresses are self-imposed. So I have been taking stock—and I must say that simply having decided to take stock has made me feel a lot lighter.
One thing is clear: I’m going to let go of the commitment I made to write a new blog post every week—which is why I’m writing about my cancer scare here.
I have always been the only person who really cared if I wrote a new post each and every week, and now I’ve decided I’m OK with a little less rigor. I may continue to write weekly posts, but I may also skip some weeks.
Of course, the minute I decided I no longer had to post every week, I came up with half a dozen topics I was chomping at the bit to write about.