Scared Strong

Scared Strong

Last week I sat on the exam table with my arms crossed tightly across my chest while my Doctor talked about cancer and statistics and I shivered. I had hoped for an in and out visit, a everything is fine, I’ll see you next year visit.

Instead Dr. Rafferty looked at me with serious eyes. “We know you are high risk for cancer. We just don’t know how high. There is a new risk assessment we can put your information into and find out”.

“Ok.” I clenched my arms tighter. My thoughts raced and my heart galloped. Dr. Rafferty called in another Doctor to take my chart and run the assessment. “It will be quick,” she said.

I felt as though my heard were  a cloud of cotton. I felt as though I had been swept into a quick moving stream. It was only minutes until the door cracked open and the sheet of paper with my statistics was handed to my Doctor.

“You have a forty-three point five percent life time risk of getting breast cancer,” she said.

Her plan for monitoring me was long and detailed, a Cadillac of medical plans. I felt as though I were trying to drink from a fire hose.

I tried to concentrate on the plan but I thought of Rachel dying.  I just want life to get better, I thought. Not this. My eyes teared as Dr. Rafferty examined me and talked some more. No one is ready to hear that a monster might lurk nearby, maybe even within.

“You have a lump but it doesn’t feel like cancer,” she said.

Tomorrow, to be safe, I start the Cadillac plan. A mammogram, an ultrasound, then an x ray, all to see if I need a biopsy. The waiting will be the worst I imagine. I imagine, that is the problem.

Despite my trepidation I do not expect to have cancer now. My Doctor does not think I have cancer now. My risks at the age of thirty one are not even close to forty three percentile. Risk increases as I age.

Since years pass as quickly as a reader flips through a page turner I have researched, talked, tossed and turned. I’ve set an alarm and walked and ran before I usually crack my eyes open. I’ve drunk cups of green tea and will continue to. I’ve even eaten more vegetables and less sweets.

I am closer to living the life I want to, the one I always tell myself I will. Instead of being scared I will try to be grateful to have a mandate to take care of myself. I will let the hard facts mold and motivate me. I will grow stronger.