29 December 2012

[talk: Being Brave.]

I really have no clue who reads this ... and sometimes I do posts for myself, sometimes I do it for those that I know visit here ... and sometimes, I write just because I know that there might be someone - somewhere - who needs to read these words.

At least, that's what I hope.

Getting older isn't easy - I've always been told that.  And that's a funny thing - because when you're a child, all you want is to be grown up.  But once you're a grown up, you start to realize all of the heartache that life can cause.  Rejection, illness, loneliness, disappointment, ... death.

In the last 8 or so weeks, I have watched my parents deal with the deaths of seven of their friends/acquaintances.  Plus, one of my father's friends is currently in the hospital, not doing well at all.  

It's a big reality check, isn't it, when you actually KNOW people who are now in eternity.  It makes you face your own mortality, and the mortality of those you love.  A scary thing - even for those who know the Lord - only because sometimes the thought of saying good-bye is just unbearable.  I always say, "either I go to your funeral, or you come to mine.  There's no way around it."

Not only have my parent's friends taken ill - but this year I have watched young people battle with sickness and death.  Young moms, children ... it's just heartbreaking.  But they are surviving and fighting - I'm so inspired by them.  

So yesterday morning, when I thought I felt a lump in my left breast - I tried to just breathe in and out.  "Ok," I thought.  "Let's try that again."  Yup ... that felt like something I hadn't felt before.

I do self examinations often - my grandmother had a mastectomy due to breast cancer, and my mother had a cyst removed in her early 40's.  I'm too young to have had my first mammogram, but waiting for a number seems stupid if you think something's wrong.

I got out of the shower and called my doctor.   

"Um - Hi ... wondering if I can get in on Monday?  No?  Oh - ok.  What's wrong?  Well - I think I found a lump in my breast.  Oh .., oh?  I can get in today?  Really?  3:45pm works just fine - thank you."

I told my hubby ... calmly, and said - "Hey, it's probably nothing - but I'm going to get it checked."

I spent the rest of the day doing regular mom things, and actually forgot about the upcoming appointment.  At 2pm, I remembered ... and grew a little anxious.  I checked myself again ... it was sore now - and yup.  Still there.

My kids have been sick all week - so I brought them in with me.  "Might as well," I thought.  I left the boys in the waiting room and brought Katia in with me - secretly hoping she'd have one of her coughing fits that the doctor could witness.  No such luck.

I disrobed ... "What are you doing, Mama?" Katia asked.  

"Well ... the doctor has to check me."  Oh.  That seemed good enough for her.

The doctor came in, and as he wasn't my family doctor - but rather one of my doctor's partners - I gave him the low-down on my family history and what happened that morning.  He got me to lay down and examined me.

I told him I was sore ... that it was probably from all the poking and prodding I had been doing all day.  He sat back after a couple of minutes and said, "well - there's nothing there.  You're fine."

I breathed.

He then taught me how to search properly on a "breast" prop.  I hadn't realized that I was checking incorrectly, and I was finding lumps that were actually my ribs (a little embarrassing ...) and nodules from hormones and such.  

Here's what I learned ...

1)  always examine with the pads of your fingers - with three of them together, used as one unit.
2) don't "walk" the tips of your fingers and search.  You'll find things that are NOT actual lumps.
3) lie flat on your back with an arm raised, when checking.  It helps any lumps to be more noticeable.
4) lumps are not sore.

And I guess the most important thing that I can tell you - is BE BRAVE.  Check ... don't be nervous.  Ignoring your health is not going to keep you safe.  Being aware of your body is what's going to keep you here longer, to see your kids grow up, to live a long and healthy life.

One of my dad's friends who passed away a few weeks ago, ended up in emergency after not having been to the doctor for far too long.  He was told that day that he was in the final stages of cancer.  He had no clue.

He died 5 days later.

So don't put off your annual pap-smear.  Don't be afraid to get blood work done.  Get that mole looked at, that you THINK looks a little bit different than it did last month.  Check yourself, have yourself checked.  A diagnosis of diabetes or hyperthyroid or even cancer doesn't mean your life is over ... it just means that you now have the knowledge to help yourself.

Be brave.

And if you need a little inspiring - head to my RedHanded Photography blog HERE to be uplifted by the stories of the winners of my "God Made Me Beautiful" contest.  I promise you, you will not be disappointed that you did ... 

And hey ... have a great one *smile*. 


Lindsay Erin said...

Agreed! I went through my own cancer scare a little over a month ago and I couldn't read this without giving you a virtual fist bump/high five/thumbs up.

(P.S. Love your work. Saw this through your FB page and have a few friends/acquaintance who have beautiful wedding/baby photos thanks to you!)

Tawn said...

thanks for your encouragement :-)

Nickie said...

As someone who is studying to become a primary care provider, all I have to say is YES!!!!! Get your annual. Get that little oddity checked out. Because it is so sad when you have a patient come in who ignored it for too long and now we can't help them. The earlier you are diagnosed and treated, the better your chances are!