I Am More Than My Lady Parts

I wanted to update readers on my diagnostic mammogram, which was completed on Tuesday. As it turns out, and as I suspected, everything is fine. The radiologist even came in and checked me manually for lumps. What he thinks happened is that the breast was not completely flattened out the first time around on my screening mammogram.

I had to wait before I wrote anything. I know I was supposed to feel relieved and happy, but instead I just felt really angry. Everyone else was so relieved on my behalf. But having the second test did not make me feel any better, because I already thought I was fine. Then I became more frustrated with myself for not feeling happy or relieved. Why couldn’t I feel what I was supposed to feel?

 In truth, I just felt frustration through the whole process. I felt in my heart that my breasts were fine, but I couldn’t be sure until I went in for the second test. My husband, kids, parents and friends were all worried. I appreciate caution in the medical community and I know doctors are in a catch 22. If they miss something, they can be sued. However, over testing causes so much fear and anxiety and that is a problem, too. After everything our family has been through, my anger just bubbled to the surface and finally boiled over.

For the better part of 24 hours, I vented my frustrations and said a lot of bad words. I wondered why my pancreatic mass had been written off as nothing for so long, while the first hint of anything in breast was treated with such an abundance of caution. I thought back to when it was first recognized that my pancreatic mass was actually potentially bad last year and how  my insurance company continually rejected requests of my doctor’s, while simultaneously sending me reminders to get my Pap smear and my mammogram. Oh, the irony! My lady parts are not the only part of my body and they are currently not trying to kill me, but my insurance company seems to think that they are the only parts of me that matters.

After my test, I called my husband at work and let my anger and frustration fly. He was honestly confused and bewildered. He wondered why, after everything I have been through, this scare was the thing that finally brought out my anger. It was just the thing that tipped me over the edge. I held tough for so long, and finally just got furious. I do not like being afraid. I do not like scaring my family. I am more than my breasts and cervix, thank you very much, insurance company and society!

Please make no mistake. I love my lady parts and they have served me well in life. I enjoy having them and do not want anything bad to happen to them. I also love my less sexy but no less important digestive system, of which the pancreas is a really important part. The pancreas helps digest food by making pancreatic enzymes and regulates blood sugar by making insulin. It is a really important organ. In fact, it is kind of two organs in one, so it is pretty amazing! It is no less important to me than my breasts or my vagina.

So my anger colored everything for 24 hours. I could not sleep. I was upset with my husband for not understanding why I felt the way I did. I was angry in general for being put through days of not being positive I was fine. But then I started thinking about how as much as I do not like feeling scared, I also do not like feeling angry. However much time I have left, whether it is a year or another 45 years, do I want to spend my time being an angry person? I get to choose how I feel about things and the answer is clearly no, I do not want to be an angry person. As simple as that sounds, the anger started to evaporate when I thought about it in terms of being a choice.

This is not to say that feeling angry is all bad. I WAS angry and I really needed to get it out and off of my chest. If we do not allow ourselves to experience our emotions, they will come out eventually and inappropriately. But if I allow that anger to consume me, then ultimately I am allowing circumstances to rob me of my joy. I will not let that happen. I have fought hard to not let cancer win the emotional battle and I am not going to let this scare win now.

So onward and upward. My chemo port was supposed to come out October 7, the day of my second mammogram. Now it is scheduled to come out October 21. That is a day I am looking forward to with great happiness!

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