of fear and anxiety.
that the results of your recent mammogram show no evidence of cancer.” I
had dodged another bullet. I had escaped
death once again. I could breathe a
little easier for another year. It had
been over a decade since I was treated for cancer but somehow it didn’t matter
on the morning I had my appointment.
It’s usually been a very early appointment. I have an hour’s drive and I have trouble
getting out of the house. I know
why. I have the same trouble getting to
the dentist on time. I was afraid. I was nervous. Mind you, I am not planning on getting cancer
again. Of course, I wasn’t planning on
getting it the first time. I know a lot
of people who carry around the worry of a cancer diagnosis, especially if
there’s a family history. My elderly
aunt had breast cancer and my father died of a brain tumor at the age of 62 but
I took really good care of myself. You
know, I ate right, I exercised and I monitored my thoughts. I never dreamed I’d have breast cancer. I was truly shocked when I was told the
when they receive this diagnosis. The
truth is we should be less surprised to not receive some sort of health
challenge at some point in our lives rather than the other way around. One man who is a patient at the Preston
Robert Tish Brain Tumor Center told a group of us that he had a headache and
surprisingly woke up from it in the hospital.
He was a very robust man with an abundant amount of energy and a big
personality. He heard them saying,
“You have a brain tumor, a glioblastoma.” He laughed and said, “You’re talking to
the wrong person. You’ve made a
mistake.” But, they hadn’t.
BOOM, a bomb goes off. There might have
been a warning sign but many times there is not. One of my physicians
graciously told me that the cancer wasn’t anything I did or didn’t do; it was a
“random act of violence.” In
one way, that gave me a lot of comfort.
I didn’t need to find blame either within or without but it meant that I
was vulnerable to the whims of the world and with that thought, I found I felt
unsafe. It left me fearful. I wondered what else was going on inside my
body that I was totally unaware of? And,
I was afraid.
It can rob us of our joy, of some of our happiest moments. It can steal our whole lives from us if we
let it but how do we deal with it? When
I was invited to join my daughter-in-law on a trip to Ecuador, I didn’t
hesitate to say yes but I want to confess I was afraid. I have read many stories of people being
abducted in third world counties and taken off into the jungle, or worse and
being held for years and years. I knew
this fear of being kidnapped was irrational but was it? Maybe I simply wasn’t listening to my
spiritual guides who were telling me not to go?
But, I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity, so my guides and angels
had better step up and protect me. I was
also extra vigilant and extremely careful.
As I sat on the steps of the Virgin de Panecillo at the top of Quito
looking out over the evening lights of the whole city, I cried. I thought, “Fear might have kept me from
having this experience. How horrible
that would have been.” It wasn’t the first time I shed tears on that trip
and it wasn’t the last. It was an
mammogram, I recognized the visitor who had arrived with the ringing of my
alarm clock. Fear was here. I recall the
first time I heard the phrase; Faith or fear.
It was in a sermon at a church I was visiting. It was one of those moments when I felt a
light go on. I knew exactly what the
priest was talking about. I had a
choice. How was I going to live my life? Well, I decided right then and there, I was
not going to have my life’s choices dictated by fear. And, I have been deciding that every day,
ever since. I have had to make it a
meditation. There are days, like on that
early Friday morning of my appointment when I had to decide moment to moment to
stay centered and calm. Deciding was the
easy part; making the choice, putting it into practice, well, that’s a whole
other story. Once again, I was faced with finding a way to live with Faith and
to let go of the fear. That’s when I
created the affirmation: “I let go
of fear and anxiety.” It’s evolved
over the years. I now not only focus on
the letting go of those emotions that don’t serve me; I now focus on
strengthening my Faith. I have several
affirmations that I say to increase my sense of well-being; to make me believe
that no matter what is happening, I am alright because my Faith is strong and
helping me stay in a good place.
claim that title whenever you want.
There are no hard and fast rules.
A few years back my breast oncologist approached me with the concept of
creating a Survivorship Clinic which women like myself, women who were out of
treatment for several years and appeared to be doing well, would visit for
their yearly appointment, instead of seeing him. I agreed.
My visit at Duke this Friday morning was to be in this clinic with a
physician’s assistant who specialized in breast cancer treatment. It included an hour group session, the
mammogram and a full exam. Well, I
really didn’t need a group session.
There wasn’t really any more information I could gather. I was fine.
nutritionist, a breast oncologist and the PA.
The topics quickly turned to how to stay optimally healthy, what effect
a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has on one’s long term health and what
our best choices might be. It was a
delightful morning, informative and empowering.
The other people in the group were very interesting. The information they shared was extremely
helpful. I invited a dear friend to join me for the mammogram appointment. We had a nice visit. Actually, I had a really good time. I was given that wonderful paper announcing
my cancer free breasts, I learned some new things, I had a wonderful exam and I
visited with a dear friend and met a few really interesting new people.
my faith in God. One, I tell myself
that, “When I stay focused on the present, my life is peaceful.” And, along with that I tell myself, daily,
sometimes moment to moment that, “Because of my relationship with my Lord
Jesus Christ, I can let go of fear and anxiety and fully trust in His loving
care for me.”
appointment without a cancer diagnosis.
I know I will experience other challenges in my life, things I may not
even be able to imagine but with my focus on Faith, by letting go of the fear,
I hope that whatever life brings, I will have at some point in the experience
tears of joy and be saying to myself, “Fear might have kept me from having
this experience. How horrible that would