When Jacob was first diagnosed with cancer we were given a video made for children and families, called “Paul and the Dragon”. There are no words in this animated film which depicts the cancer journey. A boy, who doesn’t feel well, goes to the doctors, and they do tests, then find out he has cancer. Then the doctor explains that the cancer is like a dragon, and his body needs to fight the dragon with the medications. In the end the boy gets well, thus defeating the dragon.
I have dealt with my fair share of cancer. Jacob my sweet youngest son is 9 months out of treatment for bilateral Wilm’s [kidney] tumors. My father had lung cancer and skin cancer; to be expected from a life-long smoker and a red head! He passed away in April of 2001. My mother had breast cancer, diagnosed when she was in her late 40s. It then spread to her bones and her liver, before taking her in 1999 one week before Christmas at the age of 54. Because of this, I am consistent about getting my physical done, both annuals and mammograms. I have had a mammogram done every year since I was 36- (aside from the two years I was nursing).
Last Thursday I went for my annual appointments. I got to see my OB who had delivered Jacob. It was nice seeing her; but I think I may have blown her away when I shared all of the health issues I had been dealing with Jacob in his first three years! The mammogram was uneventful. I was told that I would either receive a phone call within a few days, if they needed more images or if there was a problem; or I would get a letter confirming everything was fine. So when my caller ID told me my OB’s office was calling on Monday, my heart stopped.
The tech calmly explained that they saw “structural changes from last years’ films” and could I come in for a few more pictures? My mind was racing! Could I come in? YES! She started listing off openings, for later this week- oh there is one today? Great! I will take it! God, I don’t think I could have handled waiting a few days, worrying and wondering what was going on. I got there about 45 minutes before my appointment. Jacob had fallen asleep so I sat quietly in my truck , trying to calm my nerves. I had only told 3 of my close girlfriends what was going on. I had not told my husband anything. I didn’t want him stressing out with worry if it turned out to be nothing. Lord knows I was worrying enough for everyone. I was scared, and yet also calm. With my mother’s history, I feel resigned that it’s simply a matter of when I get breast cancer, not if! I told myself, THIS is WHY we get the mammograms done annually! If there was something there, chances are, that they will show up on the imaging long before I detected any changes. Right? And early detection is key to successful treatments and catching the cancer before it gets to the lymph system and has direct access to your entire body.
I got a call from the Doctors office today at 1:34 PM. Everything was fine! I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was hearing this news! I had not realized just how scared I was, or how convinced I was that it would be bad news! Maybe it’s because of all the health issues I have had to handle with Jacob, but I was calmly making a mental list of things I would need to take care of right away, trying to plan how to manage everything we have going on day-to-day. I was not really afraid of dealing with the diagnosis, or even losing my hair, or my breast- I was afraid how it would affect my family, my husband, my grandparents, my brother, my sister. I knew I would have an abundance of support, love and prayers from my network of friends near and far- thanks to this blog, Facebook, Twitter. As much as I love you all, I am so glad that we aren’t in that dark place tonight!! I am happy to have escaped the dragon’s jaw, and to have another year to go along worry free- until next year’s mammogram! But I will be ready for whatever they reveal- because early detection saves lives- and I have WAY too much I need to take care of yet!!!