Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To Live Like You Were Dying....

I was sitting on the hard plastic bench in just a thin blue-green cotton gown, feeling rather exposed, when the technician knocked on my changing room door at the mammography unit and told me they would like to do some more views. My saliva got a sour taste and my breathing got more shallow.

My mom has gone through two bouts of breast cancer and now if she has a mammogram looming within the next four months or so, she'll put off dentist appointments or getting new eyeglasses until, as she says, "I get through that." When she gets a thumbs up from the radiologist, she feels like she was given a new lease and is once again able to look forward.

A year ago October, I was told to come back for addition views. As I walked back to the x-ray machine with my dressing gown flapping open behind me and my heavy breasts with no bra flapping along in front of me, the technician attempted to encourage me, saying at least one out of ten women need to do this and it's usually nothing.

It turned out there were some calcifications that they wanted to monitor. Some are benign, and some can be precancerous and they asked me to start coming in every six months to keep an eye on everything.

Today was the third of those six month checkups. I asked to see my original October x-rays, my April x-rays, and today's, but I'm not a doctor. Now I wait. They told me no phone call in the next few days and instead, a letter quietly arriving in my mailbox is the ideal.

Tim McGraw has a song entitled, "Live Like You Were Dying." And in some ways, it echoes why I'm in this year of goals and challenges to not only be a better mom and wife, but to reach out a bit more, to challenge myself a bit more, to experience a bit more.

I fully hope and plan to live to 100 plus, but we really don't ever know that and I'm trying hard to live more directed, not to waste time or pass time or spend too much time in my head. I'm trying to figure out how to get the most joy and give the most joy in each day rather than simply getting through the day. And I'm seeing some little successes at this.

It goes back to the idea of working toward goals and enjoying the journey, not waiting to accomplish them to then be happy. Any one of us could be hit by a car tomorrow or more likely, we will live to a happy old age, but surely it's a good idea to plan for the latter but live as if the former were possible. I think in the end, it's not what we accomplish, but what we become in our attempt to accomplish. And that deep thought was brought to you as I finish up my Dr. Pepper and nacho lunch - planning a more nutritious dinner. Best Wishes. Eileen


  1. I hope you get good news. Hugs to you. I know how you feel. Years ago, when I got my first mammogram, they had me come back for "more views". I was terrified. On Christmas Eve, my doctor's office called to tell me that it was okay. I have a density in one breast that they wanted to monitor, but that I didn't need to worry. I had to have the six monthly mammos for a couple of years, until they made sure that density wasn't doing anything.

    It hasn't. But those days between the "more views" and the Christmas Eve call were some of the scariest I have been through.

    LOL at the robe flapping behind and the boobs flapping in front. That is exactly how I approach the machine.

  2. Thanks for the good wishes Frances! And I'm so glad you got a good Christmas gift that year. As the poor technician was trying to place me just so - lean this way - turn your head that way - rest your arm here - lean in more - then using that machine to squish everything down to a patty - I had to think if we can land humans in outer space - we should be able to find a better mamagram system;-). Eileen

  3. Eileen, best wishes to you. I had to be monitored on the pap smear front for a while and it was scarey. (all is fine).

    I know what you mean about living life as if you can die that day. My teen agers sometimes get angry with me and don't want to say good bye to me in the morning. But I drive 60 miles each way on my commute, on the busiest road in the US. I told them it is fine to be angry but if something happens to me and they didn't say good bye that morning it would haunt them all their lives. So, we say good bye every morning even if we are horribly angry with each other.

  4. Jill, I think that's a great idea, thanks for sharing. I'm still lucky that at two and five, my kids give goodbyes with hugs and kisses - heavens how I would miss that! Wishing you many a safe journey on your daily commutes! And I'm so glad the pap smears turned out okay. A good friend of mine is in the monitoring stages right now. Eileen