I sat in the waiting room trying not to panic.
It’s just standard procedure, I told myself. They’re playing it safe.
My mother died at the age of 49, when I was just 22 years old. Since then, I’ve been very proactive with my health. When I turned 35, I had a mammogram to create a baseline for my doctors, even though there’s no history of breast cancer in my immediate family. Last year, at 40, I had my second one.
But when the results came in, something wasn’t right. So I was sent in for a follow up mammogram.
I sat in the waiting room wearing a thin covering, shivering more from anxiety than the cold air. It was all I could do to distract myself from negative thoughts. I have two young children. I don’t want my husband to watch me suffer. I’ve been through enough – this isn’t fair.
The lady taking my special pictures was very kind, very patient, very encouraging. She was able to get the images looked at right away, while I got dressed. And when she came to talk to me in the waiting area, I held my breath.
My eyes welled up. I just couldn’t help it. I felt like an idiot for getting so worried, but why shouldn’t it happen to me? I know God is in control, but I’ve seen – over and over again – bad things happen to good people. Faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t exempt us from suffering; it prepares us for it.
My beautiful Aunt Lola, with gorgeous curls and a husky laugh, died of breast cancer. My hardworking Aunt Araxi fought breast cancer, beat it once, and two weeks ago had surgery to fight it again. My lovely friend Carolynn is a survivor. My sweet friend T.L., who is my age, had a preventive double-mastectomy last year.
And tomorrow, a darling young woman from my home church will be undergoing surgery in her fight against breast cancer. She is 26, brave, faithful, enduring fear and pain and all those things with a smile on her face. In her struggles she is encouraging others, helping at V.B.S., and spending time growing closer to our Lord. She is an inspiration. If you are the praying type, please keep my friend Danielle in your prayers tomorrow.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When breast cancer is detected early, there is a 98% survival rate (National Cancer Institute). Here are some additional facts from nationalbreastcancer.org:
· One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
· Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
· Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
· Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
· Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
· Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
Ladies, touch your girls! A self-exam only takes five minutes. Here is a link to the five easy steps of a self-exam – please do it once a month and be aware of any changes in your body: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps
Our boobs don’t define our identity – our cup size does not determine our femininity. Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). I know that’s easy for me to say with my unscarred breasts. But Christ broke His own scarred body for us on the cross, so that we would glorify God with ours – and we don’t need breasts to do it.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.