I just talked to a friend who recently found a lump in her breast. She had a mild form of breast cancer about 9 years ago, did radiation but no chemo-therapy. She is going through this again and is having a hard time deciding what she should do. I went to a doctor visit with her but I must admit that I’m probably not the best person to go with her only because the news she is getting is so much more positive than the news I received that I can’t help comparing the two different scenarios to breast cancer. She’s thinking “Oh no, I have to have a mastectomy” and I’m thinking “Oh how fortunate, you get to keep one breast”. We are definitely looking at this issue from different sides.
But, here’s what I am learning from watching her. She has time on her hands because her tumor isn’t very aggressive, and being in such limbo is causing her great stress. I never had time to question my treatment. I had to take immediate action. In a way, I feel like I was going down a slide fast. I went from surgery to chemo to testing positive for the BRCA 1 gene to surgery to radiation to more surgery. I am grateful that I had such wise counsel in doctors to lead me along. I had to have complete faith in them since I never felt sick (from the tumor) and I never saw any evidence of malignant growth in my body. After I was diagnosed with cancer in my lymph nodes, I tried to see some evidence that it existed. I studied under my arm for any kind of protrusion and there was none that I could see. And so I had to believe in modern medicine and each day I am so grateful for it because as I am getting my life back, I am so incredibly happy to be alive and healthy.
In some ways, it almost makes me nervous to love life so much. Sometimes, it will hit me while I’m playing tennis. I can totally forget the troubles of the world. I can concentrate on hitting a ball and making it go where I want it to go. Then I’ll reflect about how I withdrew from all the things I love so much when I was going through treatment. I couldn’t handle all of it so I changed what I did. I walked and walked and walked and people kept me in their thoughts and prayers and kept sending me positive bits of food and gifts to keep my spirits up. I went through a time when I wouldn’t allow myself to listen to my favorite music or dream about the future. That was hard. It was just too difficult to get my hopes up for something I wasn’t sure was going to ever be possible again.
But now I am dreaming again, dangerous maybe but it feels so good. One good thing about the precious being taken away from you is that it makes you realize how much good you have in your life and stops you from wanting what you don’t have.
Spring flowers at the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point