You remember the rules, right? Don’t blog about work – you can’t call out a client on your blog and not expect it to come back and bite you on the arse……and don’t blog about the family as each person’s story is theirs to tell, and not mine.
Well, I’m breaking the second rule today for one reason, and that’s the same one I’ve broken it for before, and that’s to emphasise the fact that you should take care of yourself, you should be aware of your family health histories and be smart, keep an eye on the signs.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you’ll have come across the Boob Checking Archives. I’ve kept you guys up to date from first mammogram, through Mum’s diagnosis and so on, and I know, you really don’t want to be thinking about my boobs, or your mum’s boobs at this moment… but take a deep breath, and let’s get this over with… because to NOT think about them with their health in mind, doesn’t bear thinking about (see what I did there?).
Anyway… a couple of weeks ago I missed a call from Lil’ Sis. Thinking nothing of it I texted her that I was out on a train, and promised that I’d call her in the morning.
I didn’t get a chance to… Mum called me first.
“Dee, just letting you know…*”
It was that call that had been in the back of my mind for years… the one that said, one day, our family history would catch up with my generation.
And it has.
Now this is kind of a kick in the guts, not just because, you know, the big C, but because our aunt, (the one the doctors thought would be the MOST likely to have the BC gene mutation) had been gene tested; the results of which had proven inconclusive…
So for whatever reasons, the doctors thought my grandmother’s and aunts’ (both of theirs) cancers were less likely to be genetic (oh, and did I mention my mother’s? The advanced age at which she was diagnosed (60) also meant ‘not genetic’) – so while the girls in my generation had remained vigilant… we felt like maybe the pressure was off a tiny bit… maybe our family history was just an anomaly restricted to two generations.
For as disconcerting is Lil’ Sis’ news is… it is compounded by the news that our cousin is also staring down the same barrel, and is by all accounts further along this path. That’s two in our generation in the same month. It’s WTF worthy, to be sure.
So, given that at the behest of my new Melbourne GP, I’ve been under the care of a breast surgeon, I called their offices and asked their advice… basically saying “should the proposed MRI we’ve been talking about be moved up?”
To which they replied, “Absolutely.”
Now, the wonderful thing about private healthcare is absolute speed at which things get done… I called on the Friday, got the word back from the surgeon to go ahead on the Monday and had the MRI on Tuesday afternoon.
The procedure itself is less awkward than the old mammogram, certainly less invasive… but well, if you’re a claustrophobe and sensitive to loud noise, it isn’t exactly pleasant. However, it was over in 20mins and I was there and back without losing more than an hour and a half of the day. I hadn’t really thought anything of the procedure, nor anticipated results, just got on with the rest of the week. Until Thursday when I got a call from the surgeon herself…
“Hi Dee, just ringing to let you know, your boobs are fine… but there are a couple of other things we’d like to look at further.”
I was in the middle of teaching a class… so I awkwardly listened to the doctor, accepted her advice and asked her to proceed with booking the extra tests and went back to class.
It was rather difficult to concentrate.
The tests required were an ultrasound of my liver, and an x-ray of my right humerus. There was no mention of what they thought they were looking at, though the surgeon did say, “Don’t worry, it’s probably just a liver cyst” – but no mention of what they could/couldn’t see in my arm.
And so, after the final call back I was booked in for the ultra sound and x-ray today.
I went, I got the scans and as suspected, the sonographer advised that I was one of the population’s 5% that has a liver cyst (I’m so special, me!). It’s asymptomatic so I’ve never been bothered by it, and it will probably remain that way. Hurrah!
The x-ray however, is still up for grabs, I won’t have any further info on that until Thursday when I meet with the surgeon.
I guess that whole story was the preamble for the following; some thoughts about living in that state between “we have some uncertain news” and the certainty that it is, or isn’t ‘something’.
I had a choice at the point the surgeon’s nurse said “we need you to come back in”. I could choose to be terrified and play through all the possible outcomes over and over in my mind and let them make me fearful or depressed. Or I could chose to ‘deal with it when the time came’ and carry on with the week as planned.
I chose a variation somewhere in between, there were moments especially early on when I’d wonder… I mean… when you’ve an issue in one place AND your liver, the first thing I think is… metastatic cancer… cancer of the arm… or, something.
I had a choice to take the surgeon at her word when she said “It’s probably just a cyst” or I could be the cynic, thinking instead that she was only telling me such a thing so that I’d feel ok for that ‘last week when I felt fine’ because everyone knows, you don’t actually start getting sick until you get that diagnosis…
I still have a choice; to believe that all will be well, even if all isn’t well. I can put my faith in the hands of the doctors and their wonderful sciences, and I can shore up my resources with my friends who have been standing in the gap and praying for good reports.
The truth is we don’t walk out our lives with any more or less certainty from one day to the next… it could be a diagnosis, it could be speeding car. We always think it isn’t going to be us, and frankly some days it just is.
So, I’m still in that ‘awkward in between’ – I have 50% less concern than I had this morning, and you know what? I feel like things are just fine. But there’s still that 50%… there’s still ‘something’ about my arm. And whatever it is, in the middle of all the potential fears, the best thing about this week has been the people around me who’ve checked in to make sure I’m ok, who’ve promised prayer from here, to Sydney and as far afield as the Eastern US. A significant few who would drop everything for me.
As I would for them.
You can say what you want about the church as an institution, but as a community. I’m glad for them, really glad.
So, I’ll keep you posted about any results on Thursday, and until then, your girls? When was the last time you checked them?
*About Lil’ Sis, I’m not telling her story here… any more than to say we’re as relaxed as you can be given that as she’s been as vigilant as the rest of us, it’s a very early catch by all accounts.