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Another Mammogram (Sigh)

7 Apr

I still don’t like getting mammograms.  Not because they squish the most sensitive area of my body, although that’s not fun.  Not because they’re really uncomfortable, although they are.  But because I’m subjecting my body to more radiation, and radiation is one of several risk factors for developing cancer.

It’s just so crazy.

I’m so glad thermography has been developed as an alternate way of diagnosing breast cancer.  But sadly, it is still not covered by insurance.  I don’t know if it’s because it costs so much more or if it’s because the people who manufacture and profit from the mammogram machines are in cahoots with the insurance industry.  But whichever it is, it puts women in a more tenuous position with regard to their health.  And that just sucks.

I don’t have any clinician currently urging me to get another screening mammogram.  (Although I’ve only had two, post- lumpectomy, and I know standard practice is to recommend them every six months for the first couple years or so.)  In fact, I feel the healthiest I’ve been in almost twenty years.   My diet keeps improving, I’m getting regular exercise, I’m living the life I want to live, and I’m happy.   The only reason I’ve scheduled another set is I’ve had some more cancer dreams.

I am aware that most dreams have symbolic meanings and that cancer is no exception.  But I also don’t like to rule out the possibility of “warning dreams.”

I had two or three cancer dreams in recent months, but in the one which felt scariest I dreamed a principal was scratching his head and that somehow this particular action meant he had brain cancer.  And then a voice in my dream – a narrator kind of voice – said to me, “You have stage IV.”

So, because I pay attention to my dreams, and because I believe dreams always come for the purpose of health and healing (as dream expert and author Jeremy Taylor teaches), I will act as if these are warning dreams and double-check to make sure my breasts are still healthy.  And, I will also check with some dream partners to ascertain if there is another meaning I should be aware of.

Meanwhile, I head to the hospital tomorrow for more freakin’ mammograms.

I trust all will be well.  But unlike the person who keeps his keys in the ignition and then complains when his car has been stolen, I’m going to take precautions.


Second Post-lumpectomy Mammo

8 Oct

I have already announced the results on Facebook, but for those who don’t know me in that context, I finally, finally, finally, finally got my second post-lumpectomy mammogram.  It was twenty months after the first follow-up one, which was fourteen months after they wanted me to have one.  (And the first follow-up one was three months after they recommended me to have one.  Can you tell I’m not crazy about mammograms???)  Two psychics and an intuitive had told me I was cancer-free, but I did the mammo for peace of mind for myself and for any friends who had concerns.

I was able to make the one-hour trip to the hospital free of anxiety.  I was able to walk to the receptionist and then the radiology department anxiety-free.  I was even okay while the technician lifted each breast into place, squashed them, and radiated them.  I also felt fine while waiting for her to upload the films to the radiologist who was off-site that day.  (Apparently the social worker scheduled me on a day when the radiologist was not on-site.  Those with a history of breast cancer are supposed to come Mondays and Tuesdays.  Fortunately the technician kindly allowed me to continue with the mammo that Wednesday due to the fact that I had made an hour-long trip to get there.)  (I live in a tiny mountain town in Colorado, one hour from the two nearest hospitals.)

But even though I didn’t consciously feel any anxiety, after I heard the results I was amazed at how relieved I felt.  “You are free and clear,” she said.  Phew.  It was like I finally let go of the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.  I had thought that I’d probably ultimately be fine, but I thought (like the last few times) there would be something “suspicious” or “disturbing” that they’d want to investigate further.  At some level I just expected them to want to do extra x-rays (like they had before) or ultrasounds (like they had before) and then to want to do various rather invasive, uncomfortable biopsies (like they had before.)  Somehow I was not prepared for:  You’re good to go!

I felt so incredibly light walking out of that hospital.  I felt like I was floating.  I continued to feel joy for the rest of the day.

I am so very, very grateful for this gift.

And I am sending much, much, much love to the numerous friends who have not been so blessed.