Sunday night was the ‘Night Before’. You know, the night before an annual mammogram. Maybe you don’t. It’s a night that can be rather unsettling once you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Is everything going to be ok? Just because I’ve hit the 5-year mark of survival, it doesn’t suddenly mean I get a free pass. Funny, all of the hyped-up focus on a mammogram saving your life–especially during the month of October–fails to hit a couple of sticky, uncomfortable, want-to-ignore-and-stick-my-head-in-the-sand, kinds of details. The cancer can–and unfortunately, often does for up to 30% of those diagnosed–return and spread, metastasizing to other parts of the body. Stage IV. Returning months after the first diagnosis, or a couple of years, or even a couple of decades–like it has for Olivia Newton John. While exercise, diet, and taking my daily dose of Tamoxifen can help with my chances of avoiding recurrence, my breast cancer can still return. Which meant that there is no guarantee that everything would be ‘all clear’ during today’s mammogram.
But I was calmer last night than I’ve been the past couple of years. There was a realization that my network of support is in a decent place. My good friend Lora once wrote in a blog piece titled The Importance of Cultivating a Non-Reactive Mind (so your head doesn’t blow up when your life does):
One of the greatest lessons yoga has taught me is about the necessity of developing a non-reactive mind. Being peaceful in the face of chaos or upset does not diminish the import or seriousness of events. Rather, being peaceful means having the presence of mind to negotiate them without sending the para-sympathetic system into fight or flight mode. In other words, when we freak out, it takes a toll on our bodies. Therefore it behooves us to find balance cause one thing’s for sure: shit happens.
While I have never practiced yoga, I’ve learned that I need to work at finding balance and being in a good place because I have definitely had my share of everything going sideways, and I can deal with the drama better when I’m in a more balanced place. One of the ways that I achieve some semblance of balance, is trying to have a good network of support in place. Yesterday, when I walked in to my mammogram, I knew that if I got the results that I didn’t want to hear, I had a lot of back up and I wouldn’t be alone.
That is a wonderful realization…so was being given an all clear on my mammogram!