Thursday, January 13, 2011

For the women in the waiting room...


Sorry I’ve been missing in action for a couple of days.  I had an emotional experience and it took a bit to recover.

Last week my sister had her baseline mammogram.  I was so proud of her for getting is a few months early!  She reported back that it was easier than she thought it would be, didn’t hurt that much and that I should write a post about that.  I planned to post about it this week.  But on Monday I got an email from my sister that set in motion 24 hours of anxiety, worry and concern.

My sister got a call.  They saw something in the film from her right breast and needed her to come back into the Missouri Baptist for more tests.  My sister was alarmed and scheduled an appointment the next day, Tuesday.  Then she sent me an email with the update.  I freaked out, but tried to stay calm for her.

When I got home Monday night we freaked out together…and tried to stay calm for each other.  Suffice it to say I didn’t sleep well.  My mind kept racing and trying to plan for the worst-case scenario even as it rejected the possibility that my sister may be ill…may face treatment…may face a life threatening cancer.

The next day went by in a blur.  I went into work for a bit and then picked my sister up at home (she took the day off) and we went to the hospital together.

First she had another mammogram.

And then we waited.

And waited…and waited.

There was another woman in the waiting room, sitting quietly in that pink hospital gown.  She was alone and I couldn’t help but wonder if she was facing the same situation or a worse situation.

They called my sister back for a sonogram and my blood pressure surged.

As I sat there trying to will the situation to come out well, I struck up a conversation with the woman still waiting in the room with me.  She leaned forward and said she was sorry for not speaking to me sooner but she didn’t want to worry the others. 

She was there to get confirmation on a breast cancer diagnosis.

As we talked I marveled that she was there alone. 

She was so strong…even up beat and positive.  She said that she was grateful for the diagnosis and had already begun to focus on how she was going to beat this cancer.

And as I sat back and sucked in her positive vibes…her energy and empowerment…my sister came back in the room.

I could tell my looking at her face.

She was okay.

She is okay.

My sister does not have breast cancer.

And the world reset itself…for me and mine...for now.

I waved goodbye and wished the woman good luck…and left with my sister to celebrate and calm the hell down.

But I’ll always remember the woman in the waiting room…the women who are there today and the women who will be there tomorrow.

Knowledge is power.   

It can be scary and it isn’t always good news.

But it is powerful…be it a positive conclusion or a starting point for treatment.

Tell someone you know…remind someone you love…to get her mammogram this year.

9 comments:

eastsidekate said...

I'm not sure if congratulations are in order, but in any case, my thoughts go out to you and your sister.

More importantly, thanks for the reminder.

Comrade Misfit said...

Yup. Much of what you wrote about when through my mind when I got a very terse letter from the radiologist that said they detected an anomaly and needed me to come back in.

They ended up giving me an ultrasound exam and said that there was nothing amiss.

Memnet said...

I'm so pleased that your sister got good news.

MomTFH said...

I am so happy for your sister. I wish that other woman the best.

This is a confirmation of what the USPSTF was saying about the anxiety of false positives of mammograms. They are still a good tool for older women, but not necessarily for women who are younger and would end up getting many sonograms (and biopsies). My mother had many experiences like your sister in her 40s. All were stressful, all used up health care dollars, and all turned up nothing.

Delux said...

Wow. Hugs, bb.

pluky said...

Yes, yes, yes yes!

For this, or:

If you've been 'playing' without protection, if you've got a cough that won't quit, if you've got an ache in your gut that tums won't quell, what ever it is. See somebody.

Now for those without access to somebody, don't get me started.

numol said...

Very, very glad things turned out okay for your sister -- and I'm seconding MomTFH in wishing the other woman in the waiting room luck.

DesertRose said...

Very glad to hear your sister is okay, and best wishes to the woman in the waiting room. I'm going for my baseline tomorrow, actually, but thanks for the reminder, anyway. :)

Gillion said...

are you getting better now? Pei Pa Koa (www.geocities.jp/ninjiom_hong_kong/index_e.htm ) is one of the few Chinese natural cough remedies that have been scientifically studied. it's something like herb plus honey, and it's sweet, thick and black in color. If you have a cough, look for it! It used to be one of my favourite natural cough remedies.

if your cough persists, seek professional help such as traditional Chinese medicine physicians - I have had very good experiences with them.