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.