I was feeling burnt out on my way to the doctor’s office, I had been teaching a lot and I was feeling particularly cranky. I found myself shouting at drivers for being in my way and driving slowly and I knew that I wasn’t being my best.
I finally arrived to see my doctor for my yearly exam and I remember thinking to myself, “I really don’t want to have to step on the scale to see how much I weigh.”
When my doctor came in, we engaged in small talk as she started my “lady exam.” I was in the middle of talking about my honeymoon, when she stopped me mid-sentence and said, “I don’t like this lump right here.” My jaw fell open as she had me feel a lump deep in the side of my left breast. She then continued on with the rest of my exam in a very non-chalant way, while I laid there, stunned. I thought to myself, “did she just say I have a fucking lump in breast? Isn’t she going to console me or something?!”
I was told that I’d needed a mammogram and an ultrasound at another center. I asked if this would be covered by insurance and I was told that it would be.
I went back home and waited for a couple of hours for my appointment. I laid in bed staring at the ceiling wondering what would happen. My heart was racing as I pondered what it would be like to have breast cancer. I didn’t have any family history of it and I was in good health, but woman like me still can get cancer…
When I arrived at the medical facility, I was more nervous than ever. My breath had become short and my palms were beginning to sweat. When I was told how much everything would cost (I hadn’t hit my deductible), I then began to fall apart.
I was brought back in a room where I broke down and started crying. I just wanted someone to hold me as the two women in the room matter-of-factly explained the procedure. While the young 20-something twisted, squeezed and pushed my breast to fit in between two pieces of plastic, my cheek was also pressed up against a board and I was crying all over myself. In that moment, I felt completely humiliated and alone. I was sad and scared, I felt like a child, I just wanted someone (ANYONE!) to hug me and tell me it’d be okay.
After my mammogram, I was taken to an empty room where I had no cell service. I wanted to call my mom. I sat there for 25 minutes. In that time, my mind went to the darkest places. I thought about what it would be like to lose my hair, to lose my breast. I thought about what it would be like to die and all the pain I would experience before that. I thought about how everyone would move on after I died, my husband would find someone else. I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to follow through with my retreat in Costa Rica, how I’d have to give up on my dream to go to Bali next year. Who would take my cats? No one would love them as much as I do. This can’t be happening, my life is just getting started.
I finally was taken into another room for my ultrasound. If you’ve never had this or a mammogram done, they’re not comfortable. There’s a lot of pressure put on your breast from all angles and if you don’t have breasts, trust me, that’s painful. I kept trying to catch a glimpse of the screen and I didn’t know what I was looking at. The woman who did the exam hardly said a word to me and it felt cold, the sadness I felt hurt my heart.
When she finished, my pictures were sent up to the radiologist and we sat in silence together, waiting. I asked God to be there with me, to hold me. I brought my attention back to my breath and tried to slow it down. “I’m thankful for this breath” I thought over and over.
As it turns out, I just have dense and lumpy breast tissue, not the sexiest prognosis, but it felt like a gift! I started to cry even more, now from a place of joy. I held my breast and took deep breaths. On my way home, I kept repeating, “Thank you for my life, thank you for my life.” When someone cut me off on the highway (which I was just getting upset about earlier that morning) I just scoffed, “It doesn’t even matter. THAT doesn’t matter. So many things that I get upset about DON’T MATTER. My life MATTERS, my family and friends MATTER, being nice MATTERS. I see more clearly now what’s really important and I’m grateful for this health scare so I can see MORE with my heart and less with my head.
Moral of the story: ladies, check ya breasts and don’t wait until you might be dying to get clear about what’s important. The scale doesn’t matter, followers/likes don’t matter, having lots of money doesn’t matter (and this is coming from someone who makes minimum wage as a yoga teacher;). Your life matters, your life is a gift. You are a gift.