This Friday I will have a surgical procedure to remove cells that, left alone, could turn into cancer. These pesky cells were discovered during a routine yearly exam with my gynecologist, after which she called to let me know that my test results showed an abnormality and she wanted to take a closer look. During this second visit, after a look-see, she calmly said, “I am going to take a couple of quick biopsies.”
What happened next is a bit fuzzy, because when I heard “biopsy” my heart stopped beating and my head started to spin. My family doesn’t have great history with biopsy results. And, in my experience, biopsy spells CANCER.
I don’t have cancer. I may never develop cancer. And I am more than willing to have these cells cut from my body later this week.
I think I may even survive the heart stopping attacks I have suffered during this process. First, biopsies. Then, waiting for results. Then, being told I have high grade cancer-causing cells. Then, the call to let me know the amount I will owe the hospital Friday after my very expensive health insurance is done accounting for the 80/20-out-of-pocket-co-pay-deductible-not-covered-under-your-plan-matrix-of-go-screw-yourself-lady-coverage.
But talking about CANCER in relation to my body has changed me forever. I will learn to live with the reality that my body carries a virus that causes cancer sometimes. I will learn to forget about it for long periods of time. I will learn to not live in fear of cancer. I will re-read all the anti-cancer lifestyle books I have read because of my mother’s breast cancer and my father’s lymphoma. I will make more lifestyle changes. I will feel blessed that I had the resources to have preventative care. I will get more sleep. I will continue my journey to control my anxiety and my stress. I will eat my fruits and veggies. I will walk thousands of miles for my health. I will show up for all my exams and tests in the years to come. And soon I believe I will feel lucky that I don’t have cancer.
But I will never again walk into my doctor’s office with the same confidence I did before this happened.
This week, my father is travelling to MD Anderson in Houston for a battery of tests to find out if his 18+ months of chemotherapy is working to put his lymphoma into remission; my mother is at home without an ounce of breast tissue left on her body; and I am joining some of my friends that have been in my same situation.
I am writing this blog to continue the public conversation about cancer, and to help remind myself that we are finding treatments and strategies for prevention and that every day we are closer to a cure. To encourage everyone to get yearly exams, and to educate yourself on your own health.
And I am writing this blog to bolster my own strength in the fight against cancer. I know I should feel like one of the lucky ones, but I don’t yet. I believe I will soon.