Just when I had a plan, life smited me. Like the big thumb and forefinger in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it flicked me off the stage. I believe there is a purpose, a screenplay, or a storyline in which I am a bit-part actor, but I can’t see the big picture. This time the setback knocked the wind out of me when I landed in the cheap seats.
Imagine my surprise after a routine mammogram on April 16th when I received a frantic phone call from the nurse asking me to come back in for an ultrasound. IMMEDIATELY!
My heart bolted from my chest as panic set in. While on hold, I paced through my house, upstairs, downstairs, down the hall and back up the stairs again. I probably covered two miles in the forty-five minutes it took them to reschedule others and fit me in the next day.
At one point I had Evelyn from Avista Hospital on one ear when Evelyn from Boulder Medical Center called my cell phone. I thought I was losing my mind, but they know each other. Fearful that one would hang up after being on the phone for so long, I talked slowly and clearly.
“Evelyns. You are both talking at the same time and I can’t hear anything you are saying. I am going to take the appointment tomorrow at Boulder Medical Center. Did you hear that Evelyn? No the Evelyn from Avista. Great. Yes. 9:00 tomorrow at the Medical Center. Thank you Evelyns.” Then I slumped to the floor.
Shocking? Yes. This happened the day after the Boston Marathon bombings and five days after my birthday.
I had a needle biopsy a few days later (three – one-inch core samples), and received the results late in the afternoon on Friday. At first, the doctor’s voice sounded cheerful, so I relaxed. My husband Danny was sure we would celebrate that night.
Then my doctor said, “I am sorry to tell you that I have some bad news. The lump in your right breast is malignant.”
I have been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in my right breast. They will know more after surgery.
Cancer? Me? I have bought organic food and have used organic cleaners for almost 20 years.
Me? I insisted on building a green home and chose wool carpet over polyester because of off-gassing and water-based floor finisher over formaldehyde-filled solvents.
Me? I painted the murals in our home with water soluble oils since I react to linseed oil and turpentine.
Me? After cutting five stained glass windows, I paid my teacher to lead them because of the toxic fumes.
Me? I am hyper-sensitive to pesticides, so I have only used organic ways to get rid of pests.
Me? I have always watched what I put in and on my body, a body which is small, but in pretty dang good shape.
You see I am as green as can be. I live in Boulder. It comes with the territory.
I screamed. I shouted. I f-bombed myself for coming in contact with something that screwed over my DNA. I did everything to prevent what happened anyway. My doctor blames DDT which was widely used until 1972.
After a nightmarish and sleepless weekend, I calmed myself.
I started cracking jokes and came up with a theory:
Some believe we choose what happens to us in this lifetime. I pictured myself in a strange universe ready to be reincarnated once again.
Some higher power, with a voice like James Earl Jones, says, “In this lifetime you will face a heart defect.”
Since I always believe I am stronger than everyone else, massive really, I respond in a high-pitched squeaky voice, “A defective heart? Really? Is that all you got? You can do better than that. I can take it! BRING IT ON!”
“Okay. You asked for it,” says James Earl Jones’s voice, “It will be a painful and humbling experience, but you will be stronger if you survive.”
“Pshhh! Of course, I will survive. I will do more than survive. I will THRIVE!”
And so life brought it on.
I am still relatively young with a really Wild Ride ahead. But I AM so massive, so strong-willed, and so head-strong, I know I can do this!
After having a successful heart ablation three years ago, I have been trying to get the word out that heart disease is women’s number one killer.
I won’t die from this. It is a roadblock, a piece of shit construction zone that is going to tie me up for a while. When I am done, I will be like a new smooth stretch of highway.
I will be free of this disease which my body has battled for at least five to seven years according to my oncologist. Damn. I have an oncologist now. He said I am in the best shape of any of the patients he has seen over the last 25 years. So there. How cool am I? Take that cancer! You are going DOWN!
Then my doctor said, “There is no reason why you shouldn’t live to be 90.”
What? I want to live to be 105 and have my name appear on The Today Show six years in a row. Then I can croak. (Don’t forget to count 100. Yep that’s six.)
I am a Wild Rider and refuse to be a tragic character from a Gothic novel. Someday soon, the giant thumb and forefinger will pick me back up from the cheap seats and set me back down on the stage after brushing me off and shaking my hand. Okay. Maybe I will only be able to shake one of its fingers.
Get ready for occasional Boob Reports with updates of my triumphs and milestones. I am still making plans and am looking forward to fun events in the months ahead. You’ll see! I may be down, but I won’t be taken out.
Stay tuned Wild Riders!
There have already been times when I couldn’t keep up with your posts. Know that I am thinking of you and will read and comment when I can. I will have a double mastectomy in the next week or two.
Do you face adversity with humor?
Photos by Susie Lindau. Okay. Danny helped with the first one.