We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, as to have the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell (American Professor of Literature)
I hadn’t planned on this. I’ve already been pulled back from the almost dead. Isn’t that enough for one life time? I’m already a survivor after all!
These were the thoughts running through my mind as I pulled into the hospital parking lot. That grey and stone sanctuary of the ill. Just this past July 2018, I had attended my annual mammogram at the High Risk clinic. Lurking in the recesses of my mind was the memory of the masses that grew in my chest nearly 40 years ago. After surgery, my heart had swelled with gratitude that I was now a survivor. I was all clear! Back then, I had been warned of the dangers. I guess a survivor is never home free.
Obviously the mammogram procedure this July was successful, all medical values, standards, professionals, and equipment up to scratch. After the almost 40 years of “All Clear”, I got the dreaded “call back”.
A second mammogram, and an ultra sound later, yes, there are 2 masses confirmed. They are in the same exact location as the nasty ones of old, snuggled deep in my chest just above my heart. How ironic is that!
Within a week I was in a hospital room with a Doctor and two nurses undergoing a biopsy, which should have taken about 30 to 40 minutes, and in the end took a couple of hours. Those two masses have strategically placed themselves so deep in my chest that there was a concern of inadvertently piercing my lung. I had once been told, “You’re weird and God hates you”, at this same hospital 8 years ago, (7 months before my life sustaining ostomy was created), by the attending Physician who was frustrated due to the fact that he could not find the source of my ailment. These words flooded back to me as I lay awkwardly while the biopsy was performed. “Maybe that Doctor 8 years ago was right,” I thought.
With the biopsy behind me, I had to wait 4 weeks to finally attend the follow-up appointment to receive the results of the biopsy. It sure has felt like four of the longest summer weeks of my life!
So here I am pulling into the hospital parking lot again, on my way to the results appointment. After I parked the car, I then moved along the concrete walkway leading to the sliding doors. As I took each step I noticed the windows reflected the bank of clouds gathering on the horizon behind me. Was this an omen of things to come?
I gazed up and down, and right to left as I pressed on to the entrance. The voice in my mind was strong, clear, and penetrating, and it asked; “what will she say, and how will I react?”
When I arrived at her office and sat myself down, emotion overwhelmed me, and in walked my Doctor and her assistant.
With an ear to ear smile on her face she said, “We found it and we got it in time. The cells are abnormal, but they are not malignant at this time. We need to remove the lumps as soon as possible. The not so good news is, we have to do surgery. My assistant will call you after the long weekend…”
A surge of emotion overwhelmed me once again. This time the strong, clear, and penetrating voice in my mind screamed. “Thank you!” And, for a moment I’m sure I felt my heart swell with gratitude. After my first bout with malignancy I had planned that there would be no more of this nonsense. After my multi-year debilitating illness that climaxed with near death, and the creation of Percy Stoma, I had planned, that there would be no more of this nonsense.
Well, no more plans for me for a while! I think I will simply live the moments. I will take each day as it comes. I will live it to the fullest, as my interesting life unfolds as it will. Well, for the next little while anyway.
Jo-Ann L. Tremblay
“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”
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