Like most women, I don't enjoy the annual visit. Today I felt an extra dose of dread as I drove to the imaging clinic. This is the office I will always associate with my diagnosis. Last May I came here 3 times and those anxious days are shared in my first posts.
Yesterday, I got back on the horse with another appointment. I had my annual Well Woman exam, with my nurse practitioner. I felt slightly anxious as I entered the waiting room, remembering last May, when Janine shared concern about a lump. That was the beginning... my bump in the road. But yesterday, Janine greeted me with a huge smile and hug. It felt like my appointment was more about a celebration than a required exam.
I dreaded my mammogram today, but I was eager for it to be over. I expected to leave knowing that everything was good... or everything wasn't good. My appointment a year ago had included an ultrasound, which meant I got results that day. Today, I was told it would be over a week to get my report and if there were concerns, I'd be called back. What!
Even though I've been feeling 99% sure that I'm fine, I suddenly felt that ache of worry, like I felt at my appointment on May 23, 2016. That was the day, I was told I needed to come back for a biopsy. I remember feeling a wave of gloom, as if I already knew the outcome. I asked the nurse last year, "How long for results? Do I cancel my 2 week trip to Colorado." Today, I saw the same nurse and once again asked, "How long till I find out results? I'm leaving town." I explained that I was going on the same Colorado trip that we had canceled last year. She understood my stress and smiled with a look that told me she wasn't worried. "I've been doing this a long time." She assured me that she had no concerns. I'm pretty sure she wasn't supposed to tell me that.
Oh my. Waiting again, but it's different this time. I'm pretty sure we're going to Colorado!
This Festive Month
A Year Earlier
I also remember how I loved the happy graduation distraction. The festive gatherings halted my fretting, over the recent discovery of a lump. Luckily my mammogram came a week later, so I celebrated without real knowledge. My cancer diagnosis came at the end of May.
No Time for Worries This Year
It was a thrill to celebrate this year, without hidden concerns. I did however, have a couple of not so hidden concerns, about my silly appearance.
My crazy hair went crazier in New Orleans and I woke with a left eye that looked like I'd been punched. It was no treat greeting family I hadn't seen in a year, with my frightful image.
But luckily this wasn't about me, it was about Scott. And I was too busy feeling proud and enjoying family, (and food) to be bothered.
When Scott walked across the stage to accept his diploma, I felt butterflies. My own cheering and clapping and camera fumbling kept me from experiencing the stronger emotions that came later. My fumbling also meant, I didn't capture a solid picture of Scott hugging The Dean...
Too Busy to Process
We were able to enjoy numerous celebrations with our combined families. There were toasts and shared stories. It seemed perfect and I was bursting with pride over Scott's accomplishments. But there was little time to share my thoughts with Scott, alone. In fact my "parental processing" pretty much waited until I got back to Texas.
Time to Reflect
So I returned home and had time to think about the past few days, as well as past decades. I took more time to study this photo, which I'd shared over the weekend in Nola. Everyone had been amused to see 4-year old Scott in the photo, showing interest in the law so many years ago! (Or banging on things, at least.) Scott said he remembered the moment, when his uncle encouraged him to pound that gavel!
I love the way my brother is smiling at Scott in this photo. He has smiled and encouraged Scott in many ways over the years.
My brother's smile was even bigger on Saturday, when he greeted Scott on stage. He was The Dean, when he handed Scott the diploma, but he was Uncle when he offered a hug.
May in 1990
I wish I had photos of the ceremony, later that day at Hill Auditorium. At least my written words help me recall... How 9-month-old Scott sat on my lap and 3-year-old Heidi squealed and shook her stuffed bunny. "Cheer for Uncle Dave!" I encouraged, as my brother crossed the stage to accept his diploma. The words in my journal remind me that I looked over at Mom and wondered how she felt, as she watched her youngest son graduate from law school.
On Saturday, I understood how proud my mom felt on that Mother's Day, 27 years ago. I also felt a giddiness to watch my brother on that stage, without Scott on my lap! They were up there together, this time!
So this May, I feel grateful for so many things. Grateful that I am here, since it was exactly a year ago today, that I went in for a biopsy. May 2016 was not my favorite May, but I think it helped make this one my best. I believe I'm more able to feel gratitude. I feel more thankful than ever before, for family near and far. And I've learned that it's okay to feel proud of your kids, your spouse, your family or yourself!
What a good month!
But, really I do.
I just like choosing what I look back on. I'm ridiculously sentimental. I record things, I keep things, I ponder the past... when it's good stuff. I love old photos, like this one. It takes me back to our old Tulsa neighborhood, 20 years ago.
This photo of happy kids, was actually taken the day we put the For Sale sign in the yard. I don't have a photo of the day our car pulled away for good. That image would have shown The Hart Family, standing in our driveway, waving good-bye. There wasn't a dry eye in the family that was leaving... or staying.
A Year Ago
I'm happy to remember a year ago, when Don and I stopped in Tulsa and spent a couple hours laughing with our dear friends, the Harts. We hadn't seen each other in years, but only spent a little time focusing on the past. We were too excited to talk about the future. We knew our families would be together soon, celebrating the wedding of Kim and Dan's daughter.
In the Moment
Don't Like Looking Back
This photo shows the next time Kim and I saw each other. I don't love looking back on my wig and chemo days. But I don't mind remembering Kim's visit last fall, when she made me laugh and forget that I had another chemo coming up.
Living in the Moment Again
This past week, Don and I joined Kim and Dan in Florida. When they Initially invited us, I took a look at the calendar and thought there was no way we could join them. But in this crazy year, I've reminded myself that waiting for a better time, isn't always the best strategy. We had 4 fabulous days, enjoying whatever the weather brought us... sun, wind or thunderstorm. We enjoyed the moments... as well as a few old stories!
From Oklahoma to Florida
In this week-old photo, my hair seems to be the only reminder of change. I could ponder all that has happened or changed in the 12 months since we saw Dan and Kim in Tulsa. Instead, I'll focus on the future.
We'll see Dan and Kim in November, at our son's wedding... if not before!
Cancer - Covid
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me.
Coronavirus and Cancer! Both are evil, but neither can totally get me down... if I vent! I hope with Covid, I run out of complaints before 200!