So, I recently had a scare of sorts of a medical persuasion. I have come to the conclusion, after much reflection, that I learned more about other people’s issues and their reactions to my scare than perhaps I wanted to. (Dangling participles are okay these days!) The issue was a spot on my breast in my second-ever mammogram. I would like to thank the folks at the Piper Breast Center for actually making it a ROCKING experience. You can’t say things like that very often, can you?
A small spot was found in my mammogram, so I had to do a follow-up at Piper. In between times, I told a few people about it and I talked about it at a meeting. Perhaps I’ve been around people for a long time now, who have a little practice expressing their feelings. Perhaps I’m just lucky and have a good support system. In my normal day-to-day dealings, I don’t have anyone around anymore who tries to minimize my pain and fear. I have full authority to wallow around in my mess and work it out however I need to. It’s a pretty fucking great life, I gotta say. To the point-after sharing this fear I had in the back of my head and the anxiety hanging out in the pit of my stomach, I kind of got sent back to childhood. Some of the folks I shared with really tried to micromanage my feelings and were kind of dismissive.
Something I think everyone should know how to do and be when someone else is having overwhelming feelings attached to an uncertain situation, is to simply be supportive. If I am scared, it’s because I am supposed to be scared. When you are told by a medical professional that they spotted something in your breast, then you should be scared. This is a perfectly normal response. Even if it’s unlikely that you have breast cancer. Even if you think the fear is unwarranted. Even if you have super powers that allow your body to self-heal from all injuries, wounds, and sicknesses. FEAR IS GOOD. Fear kept us alive when we lived in caves and didn’t have language.
In my world of recovery, I, especially, need to feel and deal with all of my feelings. Especially the hard ones. I was quite surprised to have my fear dismissed and treated as if it was completely ridiculous. No one needs to try to prevent me from feeling how I do. No one can prevent me from having fear and anxiety, but they can add to it all by trying to tell me how I should or should not be feeling. When I explain that I’m working through it, and that I am mostly convinced that I don’t have breast cancer, I don’t think that telling me that I don’t and that it’s nothing and this has happened to five milliondy billions of your friends, is helpful. You are trying to shut me down. You are trying to prevent my fear. Not cool, and not helpful. MY brain is doing what it is supposed to do, so that I can work through the situation. Also, did people think I should giggle and shrug? I’m not sure what would have been the appropriate response for other people.
I realize that I am starting to sound (wait, can you actually hear me???) angry; I am angry. I worked through the whole problem from the worst-case scenario (death), to the next worst (double mastectomy), and I was able to sit with my fear. That’s really what it comes down to, for me, perhaps. I will find my own way through everything. It’s what I do now, and I did before, even when I was in the worst of my disease. I don’t sit and rely on GOD to “take my burden” or “answer my prayers,” I ponder, I joke, I sit with my feelings, and I face the fact that I am one strong, stubborn bitch who will not get taken down by anything that I can manage. I know when to ask for help, and I know that sometimes my feelings are out of proportion to the situation. That’s okay because they are my hard-earned feelings. I enjoy feeling all of them.
So, seriously, ask questions, tell me you are sorry and that you hope all will go well, tell me you hope it will all be good news at the second mammogram. Ask if I want to talk about it. Let me make my tasteless jokes. Let me feel. I promise that when your heart is breaking, I will let it break, and I will be there to help you mop up the mess of tears that you cried out on the kitchen floor. Then we’ll eat pie.