a temporary reprieve

Don’t know rightly what to call it, but both stay of execution and reprieve both came to mind yesterday after the long anticipated telephone call. It came around 3:30 p.m. I had expected to be waiting through still another agonizing night of fitful sleep, so I was sure it couldn’t be THE call I was waiting for. Possibly THE-MOST important call of my life so far.

I was on a Skype call with my daughter in New York and she had excused herself for a moment in the kitchen while I waited. The rock that had settled into my stomach on Thursday weighed ever more heavily.  So when the phone rang I grabbed the laptop and hurried with it in hand to to pick up on the second ring. If daughter came back to see me on the phone, she would figure out what was going on and could either watch me cheer or collapse. Either way I was glad she was there and I wasn’t alone. She returned to our Skype connection to see me frozen on her monitor with phone in hand. For the rest of my life I’ll remember her folded hands under her chin when she realized who I was talking to.

Funny how addicted we are to social pleasantries while we’re getting into the real reason for the call. I just wanted it over, good or bad! How banal we both sounded. Hi, how are you? I’m feeling like shit, how would you feel? Now get on with it. But both my grandmothers and mother did a great job teaching me how to act and talk like a lady. And then the words I was waiting for finally spilled out. I have some good  news; all the samples collected have been analyzed and came up clean. Things were looking good–so far.

I’m pretty sure I gasped. I hung on and repeated in my head over and over looking good so far. Had I heard right? Y’mean, I don’t have to worry anymore? It’s gonna be okay? is pretty close, I think, to my stammered reply. There were so many thoughts crowding into my head all at the same time I wasn’t sure I was even coherent. I’m sure she makes similar calls every day, and I’m so sorry that not all of them are the good kind, but by God this was good news for me, and it’s all I could think about at the moment. She went on to remind me that the next step would be to contact a surgeon and arrange to have the lump removed. It was her duty to remind me that as good as everything looked at this point, only after the lump itself was removed and examined could we be 100% sure. A sobering reminder indeed, but a necessary one.

Actually, we were a step ahead already in that direction having contacted a staff surgeon on Monday and taking the first consultation appointment available. My appointment is February 17 in the early afternoon. After that, I’ll have a definite date for the coming out party they call lumpectomy. I never thought I’d actually look forward to having surgery scheduled. I feel a little like a kid who’s been granted a heartfelt wish–after making the most uncomplicated promises of their lives. From now on I’ll eat all my broccoli and drink my milk and carry the trash out and keep my room clean . . . brush my teeth, hell I’ll even floss and do a better job with the waterpik.

I’ve talked to a number of women who have already experienced the same sort of thing I’ve been going through the past week and it’s amazing how common the experience is so I’m pretty sure most readers understand all the feelings I’m having now. As far as the new mammogram suggestions a few months back from the American Cancer Society that most women don’t need mammograms in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at age 50–I can’t say more strongly how I feel about that suggestion, than to wonder what might have happened had I decided to follow that advice. I did begin to seriously consider–even to the point of giving myself permission, based on that new information, to relax a little with self examining since I was never really sure I was doing it right anyway. It astounds me now to contemplate what my outcome might have been had I let this thing go for another year? I don’t even like to think about it.

19 thoughts on “a temporary reprieve

  1. I’m just so pleased. You can see me jumping up and down and waving at you. A lumpectomy will give you your life back while telling you exactly what’s happening in there. I am so very pleased.

    And too, how wonderful they call you. I always have to wait to get letters. A long, frightening wait.

    Many hugs…..

  2. I am with Mage B here. The lumpectomy will tell you exactly how things are. It is the fear of the unknown that causes anxiety. Try not to waste time worrying about what might NOT happen!

    • I’m much better now, thanks. The way I see it, even if they should find the minutest thing going on that didn’t show in the samples, we will have caught it at an early enough stage so as to have a better prognosis. Thanks for writing.

  3. Thank heavens for the news you received. You have lots of people around the world combining good thoughts and energy for you. Hang in. We all care.

  4. A – I spent too many years with these types of alerts and then the doctors realized that the massing in each of my breasts is assymetrical and that is normal for me. Right now T is going in for fibroid cysts (we hope) and I’m telling you the waiting is the hardest part. I’m so happy to hear you are in the clear. I have a friend right now undergoing a major double masectomy on the heels of her mother dying of breast cancer last year. Self exams! Mammograms! I don’t think we can err on the side of too much preventative.

    • Unbelievable how many women go through this. I’ll be sending the most supportive vibes humanly possible to both T and your friend facing the mastectomy. I’m really learning a lot through this experience–one of the most important being how utterly supportive and caring women can be even for those they’ve never met. And how much that helps. Weird. You know what they say about grief shared results in a lighter load to carry? It’s like that, I guess. Thanks for writing.

  5. I’m so happy for you. I know about the waiting. I become a crazy person when I have to wait for these kinds of pronouncements. My usual calm persona goes completely to hell, and I don’t make good decisions. I’ll be thinking of you on the 17th, but I’m sure it will be fine.

    • For me, I go crazy inside, but show calm on the outside. I’m the one that breaks down after it’s all over. Although there were times when I was younger–especially when I worried about anything that could potentially leave my kids motherless–I knew I was sure I’d never live to see them grow up. Take care of yourself too!

  6. RYN: Two photo’s. They were taken a year apart from the Employee Gate at Petco Park, downtown San Diego. That’s the condo building on the corner and a bit of my gate. 🙂

    • Pretty much! It’s the last thing I think about before sleeping and first thing that pops into my head on waking up in the morning. I have floss in every drawer and then some! (I’ll need it to keep that broccoli that gets caught in my teeth all the time!)

    • What a great bunch of people I have reading my posts. (Of course I already knew that.) While that’s not such a surprise, what is, is that I’m learning of so many who have gone through similar experiences. You hear statistics quoted–Mayo Clinic says 85% of breast lumps are benign etc.,–but numbers mean a lot less than hearing from others who have first-hand knowledge. At first I thought I shouldn’t write about this, but now I’m very glad I did.

  7. Don’t let the surgeon take too much tissue! An image of you appeared when I read your blog. Do you remember the swim suit you once had…black lace over a skin colored fabric? You felt so happy, exotic and sexy. These are the post-op feelings I wish for you.

    • He told me yesterday I shouldn’t see much difference, ML. I hope he’s true to his word (Tuesday is the big “coming out” party.) As you know I don’t have a whole lot there to begin with; heaven knows I can’t afford to lose much…unless someone is willing to donate socks to stuff on one side. (Omigod! I remember doing something like that in high school.)

  8. I’m so glad that the phone call was positive. Good luck with the “coming out party”. I’ve had to wait for those kinds of phone calls; the waiting is never pleasant.


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