On a lovely October morning in 2012, I was sitting on my patio looking forward to a day of writing and drinking coffee. My phone rang. It was my doctor’s office. I almost didn’t bother to answer. What did they want? I didn’t have an appointment to confirm.
But I answered and the woman on the phone pointed out how I was over 40 and had never had a mammogram. Didn’t I want to schedule one? No. Not really. I’d been putting off for as long as possible. I thought that I really could put it off a bit more. But I conceded. Sure. Schedule me. Let’s get this out of the way.
I had no idea how my life was about to change. But we never do. Who isn’t going about their lives right now with no clue what is about to up end their lives?
Early December I went to my appointment. I even Facebooked a picture of my latte as I waited for the exam. I joked. I thought, I shall jump through this hoop and then I’ll put off scheduling another mammogram for at least three years. I bet I can get away with that.
Now, two biopsies, three lumpectomies, MRIS, double mastectomy, reconstruction, and months of chemo later, my life is very different. It’s 2015, and I still spent today at doctor appointments. I’ve got tests for various things I’m now at risk for. I still have issues. I’m NED (no evidence of disease!) and that is awesome, but everything is seen through a different filter. Everything is now seen as possible cancer. The meds I take lower my risk of one cancer and increase my risk of another. Not to mention the meds have made me gain wait. I don’t even know my own body any more.
If you’re going through any chronic condition, you know what mean. Everything changes. I can be accepting of things. Today, the nurse said, “I’m sorry you have to go through all these tests.”
“At least I’m here to go through them,” I replied. And I mean that. Seriously. What is the alternative, right?
But other days are weird. I’ve gained weight. I hurt like I’ve never hurt. The meds have side effects. People say it’s aging. But I feel it’s accelerated aging. It feels wrong to complain, and more often than not I’m fine. I’m NED, after all.
And I’ve got so much I want to write and create. Don’t you have things you want to do? I don’t mean a bucket list. Or I do mean a bucket list? I don’t know. Whatever. There are things one would like not to leave unfinished.
Since that day on the patio when I so carelessly made that appointment, I didn’t know what was coming. We never know what is coming. Life doesn’t change often in big moments. It changes in simple mundane things.
Now I have to be checked for endometrial cancer. Now I don’t have one doctor. I have several doctors and a surgeon. I’ve gone to more doctor appointments in the last couple of years than I’ve been to my whole life. Okay, so I’m not 100% sure that is true, but it feels true.
But I don’t feel I have a right to complain. I’m lucky in so many ways. I have health insurance for one. I’ve had a tremendous amount of support for another. And you can’t live afraid of tomorrow.
But you don’t know what is in store for you or how you’re life might be changing without you realizing it just yet. So, if there is something you’ve been meaning to do, what are you waiting for?