Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The Grim Reaper visited My Neighborhood . . . so to speak
For my family which is made up of a preponderance of women, the spectre of breast cancer had never been a problem. We were all careful to get our mammograms, to do our self-examinations, to eat well and keep our immune systems health. But at least one woman in every generation(on my mother's side) of my family have had cystic breast disease so we have sort of held our collective breath to see if the condition would get lethal. Well, it finally has.
Last week, one of my three daughters had breast cancer surgery. And yet, her story is one of those that almost has the listener's jaw dropping. She had her regular mammogram at the end of 2012. Clear as a bell! Thankfully, she has a family doctor who looked at those films and didn't like what she saw. The radiologist didn't either. So there was enough uneasiness that they convinced the insurance to pay for a MRI biopsy on the left breast. Benign! But . . . the MRI revealed a mass in the right breast that didn't even show up on the mammogram. So another MRI biopsy was scheduled. Again . . . benign. So since the masses were fairly significant, the oncology surgeon recommended removal which was done. No problem, right? Wrong. When the mass from the right breast was examined post op in the pathology lab, it was discovered that it was malignant. All this after a mammogram and two biopsies that declared everything was fine. Good thing she had doctors who weren't comfortable with the test results.
Now she has had the follow-up mastectomy with the beginnings of reconstruction and is doing well in her post-op recovery. I did tell her that getting up in the middle of the night to give her pain medication was reminiscent of night feedings, and helping her with her showers was a whole lot more trouble than when I used to give her baths in the kitchen sink when she was a baby. But all in all, she's doing well, and even when she had a bit of an emotional melt-down--something we all have when we are on the other side of a crisis -- she had to admit that the idea of being a cancer survivor was mind-boggling to say the least.
We seldom realize how close death comes . . . we may not even realize that we were just "that close" to having a terrible accident, or that if we had been just a few moment early or late we would have been in a life-threatening situation. We live without concern that we may be days away from heart attack or stroke (those kinds of things happen to other people) or that people we love are in some kind of danger that could bring about their death. So now that we have felt the faint breeze caused by the flapping robes of the Grim Reaper in our family as he made his presence known, we all have a new appreciation for the joy of living, of knowing that every day is precious.
Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow isn't here yet.
We only have today, and that is why we call it "The Present."
Many, many thanks for the gift of today and the lives we all share.