If you are just stopping in, this is the twelfth post in my 31 Day Series: I Wear Pink. Join me as I share my breast cancer journey. You can find the previous posts here.
As I shared on Day 10, the surgeon sent me for yet another test, a MRI, to further assess the interaction between the chest wall and the tumor and to make sure that there wasn't additional cancer present in my other breast. The good news - compression was not involved. The bad news an IV line is required for the contrast material that is used to get the images. However, the exam itself is not bad. You end up lying on your stomach rather like Superman with your arms stretched out. You can read about breast MRI's here, if you are interested in knowing more.
My doctor learned from the images taken that day that there was some involvement of my chest wall and the tumor, but no further cancers in either breast. I learned something, too.
I had returned to work and continued to be involved with my family, even going to a Valentine Festival with my youngest son. But I had spent a week or so thinking of myself as a "person with cancer." I came home from work and rested. I felt a little useless. Sure I thought about cleaning the closets, the basement, and my underwear drawer so I wouldn't be embarrassed, just in case I didn't make it, but I didn't do it. I told myself it was okay, after all I had cancer, how much could reasonably be expected of me? Except that if I didn't know that I had cancer, I would not have known that I had cancer. I felt absolutely fine. I felt healthy. I had the energy to do more than I was doing and I needed to do it.
Which is where the lesson at the MRI comes in. As I was leaving, an elderly, make that very elderly, couple was attempting to come through the door. The tiny white haired lady looked as though a gentle wind could knock her off of her feet. This frail woman was supporting her husband and trying to hold the door at the same time. Her husband was only slightly larger than her, but bent over at the waist. He had an oxygen tank wheeling along beside him. Between the two of them, the door, and the oxygen tank they were having great difficulty. They clearly needed help. A nurse leapt up to grab the door and offered a wheel chair. This offer was accepted gratefully, but the nurse had now lent her hand to support the exhausted pair. That left me, the "person with cancer" to go get the wheelchair. I knew where it was. I had spent so much time at the health center recently I had my own coffee cup. I quickly retrieved the wheelchair and helped the nurse to settle the gentleman in it. He gasped out a thank you. His sweet wife also offered her appreciation for our efforts on their behalf. I humbly muttered that it was my pleasure. And it was my pleasure. The two of them had helped me to recognize that just because I was a person with cancer didn't mean that I should put myself on the shelf. I still had contributions to make. There were things that I could do, useful things, meaningful things, and I needed to do them for my family, for my students, and for me.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is, "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire. ~Deuteronomy 4:24." I had been shipwrecked when I found out that I had cancer, but the wind had stopped blowing and now it was time for me to kindle a fire. I needed to get back to being a wife, a mother, a friend, a teacher, and a daughter of the King.