I really thought I was done talking about my boobs.
Three weeks ago, I told you I had a preventative double mastectomy. Family history with the disease is dubious, and I wasn’t taking any chances. All went well, and I’m back to my usual sparkly self.
Three weeks after surgery, I had a follow up appointment with my surgeons. Before I could get to my first question, my Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Nicole Hodgson whirled into the room and tossed a lab report on the table.
“Good timing,” she smiled. When you have done what I did, they remove all the tissue and check it under a microscope. I’d known this but forgotten, because a couple of months previous, I’d had a mammogram and MRI that had given me the all-clear on the cancer front.
I looked at the report, my eyes flying over it line by line, page by page. She pointed to one line. Lobular carcinoma in situ. I looked up. “Very high risk cells in the left, and starting in the right. It’s gone.” I looked down instinctively to where my left and right had once been. I was silent.
I’ll be honest: this was the only time in this whole affair that I felt sucker punched. I’ve been deliberate and decisive and clear-headed. I’ve attacked this with a near clinical attitude that some people thought I was using to mask fear. I’ve never been afraid. But if I thought I was dodging a bullet before, this time I was Indiana Jones diving under the descending rock wall with no time to spare.
So what was Girl Indiana thinking in those moments? Well, I was thinking I was lucky. But I was also thinking that women need to be aware our highest health risk is heart disease and stroke, not breast cancer. I inherited hypertension from my Mom as well (I’m not complaining; I also got her lovely hands) and am medicated to stop my elevator bursting through the top floor.
Living life is like crossing a busy highway, and you can get hit by anything. Many of you have written to me over the past few weeks – and some of you, over the past ten years – and said you feel like we’re friends. I understand and I agree: we share this spot every Monday and my life is better for having you in it.
As your friend, please listen. I’ve learned some up close things these past months, and I want you to benefit from them. You may not be able to control all the bad things that can happen to your health, but you have to try to control what you can. Make yourself as strong as you can be to handle whatever tackles you.
Quit smoking; eat better; start walking every day. I mean it. Nobody has time, but lying in a bed unable to haul yourself up means you need every muscle group ready to take over for the compromised one. I couldn’t use my chest. All of a sudden, my gut and my arms had to compensate. We are so brainwashed into thinking fitness is about skinny jeans, we forget it is about making your body ready to do battle.
We have spectacular medical services, but healing from a position of strength can mean the difference between surviving something and dying from it. Ask yourself: if tomorrow I underwent emergency surgery, how would I fare? Am I already helping my body, and my doctors, achieve the best outcome?
Just change one thing today. One. Become a warrior on the inside.