This past Tuesday I went for my annual mammogram.
When I entered the waiting room, the staff member facing me was the nurse who crawled into the hospital bed with me on one of my darkest nights following the birth and subsequent death of my son.
In my memoir, Digging for the Light: One Woman’s Journey from Heartache to Hope, I talk about how much that gesture meant and still means to me today.
“We can go in and talk about options,” she said to the two woman I didn’t recognize until they stood to follow her.
The bottom fell out of my stomach when I saw the mother of Big Guy’s friend. Didn’t she just tell me a few weeks back that she was five years cancer free?
As coincidence would have it, I ran into the elder of the two a few hours after I left my exam.
Though a part of me worried I would be invading their privacy if I asked, the other part of me felt that to ignore that we’d seen each other would be acting as if it didn’t matter, as if The Cancer had never existed.
“Please tell me if this is invading your privacy,” I began, “were the two of you there for a routine check-up?”
“No, she found another lump. Initial tests didn’t show anything, but they’re going to do some more screening to rule it out completely. The first time she went through this the tests on the lump didn’t test positive.”
Journeyer, it’s real. Cancer is so real. If you have any friends who have gone through this then you know how it turns everything upside down.
I’m fortunate to have never experienced this disease up close and personal, but I do have empathy for the grief that often follows the loss diagnosis.
My examiner was thorough and, like so many before her, apologized for any discomfort I might be feeling.
As she lifted and shifted the second stretched-out-after-childbirth-and-breast-feeding boob, I remembered the campaign I tried to get going last year.
Bare It. Share It. Better Boobs.
That was the tagline for the post I wrote about my experience, an attempt to help alleviate as many women’s fear as possible, to get as many women as I could motivated to schedule their exams.
“You can’t put too much pressure on good breast health,” I’d said to the examiner when she asked how I was holding up.
#IBaredIt became the social media symbol that never quite made if off the ground.
EARLY DETECTION IS ONE OF OUR GREATEST ASSETS TO BEATING BREAST CANCER.
Early detection, Journeyer.
The American Cancer Society says that early detection saves thousands of lives each year, while many thousands more could be saved if woman would participate in routine screenings.
So, here I am once again, stepping forth to let you know how much you matter to me, every single sister who comes to this site and every sister of hers.
I want you to be healthy and if you run into a problem I want you to have the absolute best chance of beating the beast that is breast cancer!
YOU MATTER, JOURNEYER.
Those few seconds of prevention, no matter how long they may seem, are less painful than cancer.
If you don’t believe me, then believe Beth Minear.
Beth is a mother, wife, friend, and fellow Journeyer I happened to meet on Twitter through my work on healing after grief. And though our loss events are very different she was able to relate to me as she read about my experiences through child loss, infidelity, and depression.
Beth knows what it’s like to survive breast cancer and, after careful reflection and consideration, published her experiences through breast cancer in the recently released memoir What Remains: Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Getting on With Life.
While the nurse adjusted my left boob, I began telling her about the campaign I tried to get going last year.
And then I remembered how the hospital refused to give me permission to use the photos I took of the equipment.
Honestly, I was dumbfounded, especially since the images showed no identifying information of any kind whatsoever, not of their institution’s name nor of the equipment’s brand.
One would think the powers to be would appreciate others doing everything possible (within reason) to spread the word: EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES.
So, please, please, please, if you are afraid or embarrassed or think you’re just too busy and you’ll do it later, please make the appointment. If not for yourself, then do it for us, for the family and friends and all of your neighbors like Beth and me…
We are neighbors in grief and allies in healing, Journeyer.
Go BARE IT and SHARE IT for BETTER BOOBS!
Together we can heal a world of hurt!
Please read and share the original two essays Under Pressure and #IBared It.
And in case you’re wondering: My results came in this mail this morning. NEGATIVE.
Any my friend? I just received a text: NO CANCER!
Until we meet again,
Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
I’m sooo happy to read it. It’s a horrid disease that takes too many too soon.
I know so many whose lives have been impacted by cancer, and the more I talk about it, the more I realize… Thanks as always for stopping by, Liv! <3