Today’s post joins the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN. The book includes Diana’s experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal stories. A survivor of both breast cancer and multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin — in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health.
Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help writer before turning to poetry and memoir. She teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. If you comment on this post you’ll be entered to win a copy of WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. To read Diana’s post about breast cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana’s Blanket Tour, visit The Muffin.
I received a postcard indicating mammogram time had arrived for the second time. I called the mammogram office, scheduled appointment and forgot about it until appointment time. The time came for the appointment. I headed to the hospital with my two boys and spent the waiting time making sure they stayed out of trouble and reading a book. The staff called me in, did the mammo and we left. No big deal.
A letter came within a week stating I needed to schedule a follow up appointment because the doctor saw something on my mammogram. The letter pointed out that the majority of women who have a follow up have negative results. I studied that sentence trying to force my brain to accept it and go about my day.
Instead, fear took over and took me back to my first apartment in Alexandria, VA. I had been married for a month and homesick. It was the first time I had lived outside of Texas and college didn’t start for a couple of months. Not long after we married, my husband received his first out of town assignment. The summer was an exciting yet lonely one. Married and living in a new place with nothing to keep me busy. I had been to Washington, DC a few times and didn’t feel the urge to do the tourist thing.
My mom came to visit around that time. We sat down to catch up when she announced she’d be having a lumpectomy and radiation for a small tumor in her breast.
In spite of knowing many women, both survivors and dead, you think this will never happen to you or your family. It does. She has had clean mammograms since roller coaster of a year in 1989.
The technician took the spot check xrays, which don’t differ from a regular mammogram. Same machine. Same playing with the breast like it’s flour dough except with a human attached. Same squeezing it flat. Then I had to wait for the doctor to review the results. Wait. Wait. Cry. Wait. Think about something else.
The technician escorted me to another room for a sonogram. The xrays still showed a suspicious area and the sonogram would provide more answers. The sonogram lasted longer than a typical pregnancy sonogram, and this was one I didn’t want. Both the technician and doctor rolled the instrument all over the breast for at least 10 minutes. Watch screen. Wait. Cry inside. Look at ceiling when eyes tire of looking at screen. Wait.
At least an hour and 30 minutes passed by this point. The doctor pronounced me in the clear stating this would be a new baseline mammogram and I’d have to follow up in six months. Get dressed. Think thankful prayers. Appreciate the staff for being thorough even though it was an inconvenience. Escape the darkness of the mammogram clinic outside on a typical hot and sunny Texas summer day.
How have you been affected by breast cancer?