The C Word
I went in for my annual mammogram early this morning before a faculty meeting at school. My appointment was at the beautiful Kirkland Clinic here in Birmingham, with state of the art equipment. The clinic is so quiet early in the morning, though the line in the radiation waiting room that I passed was full.
This is always an emotional time for me, as every time the technician asks me if there is any history of cancer in my family. I take a deep breath, hold back the tears that always seem to want to flow at this question, and begin the litany of names…”My sister Sharon died of lung cancer, my father died from complications of prostate cancer, my brother Mark is in remission, but had a lung tumor that metastasized, fourteen brain rumors, an adrenal gland tumor, and prostate cancer…with two brain surgeries, radiation, and chemo, among other surgeries.” I always smile at this point and say, “Yes, my brother’s doctors call him “The Bull”, because he won’t give up. They say they’ve never seen anything like him.”
“Both of my maternal aunts died of cancer- one of lung cancer, one of complications from a brain tumor.”
There is always the sad, knowing look, and then my test begins. While the uncomfortable test takes place, I see the faces of my family, stolen or damaged by cancer. I think of my best friend Diane who battled colon cancer and won, my dear friend Mike who battled cancer and lost. I think of my sweet friends in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm fighting their own battles right now…and I send a prayer of healing to them.
I do my best to be healthy, to stay positive, to get regular checks, but I always feel afraid when I get a mammogram. I feel as if a sword is hanging over me, that one day it will be my turn to do battle. The tears always well to the surface as I leave the clinic, tears for the family members and friends I have lost, tears for those still fighting. And again, I send up a prayer of healing and hope.