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GRATITUDE WAS MY THANKSGIVING

ME IN MY WIG, THE WEEK AFTER MY LAST CHEMO, APRIL, 2005.
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This week I had my annual mammogram. Unlike past years I wasn’t worried, but as we all know… Mammograms can change our world in the time it takes to “Inhale. Hold it. Don’t breath.” I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and I’m an expert at reading every nuance in the voice and face of a mammogram technician.

This year my mammogram threw me a curveball.

Instead of having me wait in my “pink gown” for the radiologist to read my mammograms, the technician said I could get dressed and leave. “Your doctor will have the results in a few days and notify you.”

The following afternoon the same technician called and said they’d forgotten to get a 3D image of my right breast. The same breast that had breast cancer. The radiologist needed me to come back. “I’ll tell the front desk to show you back immediately,” she said.

An hour later, dressed in another pink gown, I asked the technician if there was something wrong with yesterday’s images, ignoring she’d already told me they’d “forgotten to do the 3D image of that breast.” The technician walked right into my trick question… Her answer didn’t jive with why I needed to return. 

This time she said, “The radiologist just wanted another image.”

She took the image and then told me not to move while she talked with the radiologist. In a few minutes she returned and said the radiologist wanted yet another image. She wanted to see more of the tissue on the side of my breast and under my arm.

“You need to know my antennae are up,” I told the technician. “I’ve had 10 breast cancer surgeries and eight rounds of chemo. I know the drill.”

For the next 15 minutes I sat in the waiting room, still in my pink gown, not allowing myself to “go there.“ I told myself I could handle anything. Then I realized I was clutching my purse and my coat like I was a refugee in a war zone, and they were the only two things I owned. 

The technician appeared in the doorway. “I shared your history with the radiologist. She didn’t want you to wait until next week—until after Thanksgiving—for the results. 

Everything looks fine. We’ll see you next year for your annual mammogram.”

Relief and gratitude washed over me like a tsunami. I relaxed the grip on my purse and stepped into the changing room and told God how grateful I was. It was a short, hurried prayer. Anything else and I would be a puddle on the floor.

I walked to my car, trying hard to push back the tears. As soon as the car door closed I let them come. In that moment I realized how scared I really was… How unthinkable it would be to go through a recurrence—which would mean metastatic breast cancer—alone. I know women who’ve gone through it alone. Women who are single or their chicken shit husbands left them; husbands who didn’t have the courage to do the right thing and be there for their wives and their family. 

My gratitude is palpable. It is the beating of my heart; the realization that the spirit of God lives within me, and I’m not alone. Thank you, God. This is my “thanks giving.” Today I show no signs of breast cancer recurrence, and for that, I am grateful. 

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59 thoughts on “GRATITUDE WAS MY THANKSGIVING”

  1. Brenda,

    You Rock!!! That is great news and what a gift the doctor gave you telling you the results right away. My mother died from breast cancer when I was 20. I have been getting regular mammograms for the last 38 years and so far so good! I’m grateful for your posts, and the wide range of topics you cover so thoroughly with such grace and humility. Happy Holidays!

    Lucy

    • Hi Lucy, Losing our mothers is always difficult, but your life had barely begun when your mother died. She didn’t get to see you blossom and be out in the world as an adult. I’m sorry for both of you. Have you had the BRCA gene tests? Simple blood test to see if you carry one of the genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer? If not, I urge you to have one done!!! Hopefully you don’t carry them, but if you do, there are some important decisions you can make that more than likely will prevent you from having breast and/or ovarian cancer. Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I appreciate you! xoxo, Brenda

  2. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I read “everything is fine….we’ll see you next year”. Those words are what we all wait to hear each year after our mammogram. I’m so happy you heard them.

    • Cindy… Thank you! We all dread mammogram day and hold our breaths until the results are back. I don’t think men have the same dread about their prostate exam… if they even get one. I read where every man will have prostate cancer if they live long enough… They might be really old, but eventually they’ll all be diagnosed. xoxo, Brenda

  3. Hallelujah!!
    I’m so sorry you had to sit with that fear… but, what a blessing that your radiologist was both so thorough, and so considerate!
    XO

    • Donna, I’m so very grateful to her. Even after I was diagnosed with BC in 2004, I once was going to have to wait over a long holiday weekend for the results. I called my doctor and he got them immediately. xoxo, Brenda

  4. Oh, praise the Lord!! So grateful!!

    I had a similar scare last year. While waiting after the mammogram, they called me back in for an ultrasound. Like when I was diagnosed, I saw a mass in the picture and watched as the sonographer measured it. Only this time I was more educated and thought, “Five millimeters? That’s an automatic mastectomy. Lord, what are You up to?!”

    Five minutes I layed there, thinking my life was about to be upended again, but holding on to God’s mercy and goodness knowing I hadn’t been given that news yet. The sonographer returned saying it was only a cyst. A cyst?! Can you even have a cyst in the breast?! Evidently! Thanks be to God.

    Thanksgiving!

    Giving thanks to God for you, as well!

    Love you, friend! Grateful for God’s grace and goodness!

    • Oh, yes, Beckye! I know the fear that was welling up inside of you, all the while trusting Him… That all would be well. We can have cysts in our breasts. I’m overjoyed yours was benign! You might want to keep an eye on it… Just saying… Have you subsequently mentioned it to your doctor? Love to you, my friend. He is great, Brenda

  5. That is wonderful news, Brenda. It was really kind of them to get you through before the holiday so you didn’t make yourself crazy with worry. I’m very happy for you.
    xob

    • Thank you, Barbara. Too often I think we’re just a black and white image on a screen, one of hundreds they’ve seen that week. I’m grateful the radiologist saw me as a person who was going to worry.. xoxox, Brenda

  6. That is indeed, wonderful news. It’s good that you have professionals who are thorough and kind by not making you wait several days for results.

    • I agree, Donna, and since it was a long Thanksgiving weekend, who knows when they would have gone back to work? It was late in the afternoon, and everyone was eager to leave for the holiday. I’m grateful for their kindness… and yours. Thanks for reading and leaving a supportive comment, Brenda

    • Thank you, Jean. I think we all experience some degree of anxiety and fear when we have our mammograms, but probably more so if we’ve already had breast cancer. xoxo, Brenda

  7. Like my yoga instructor said at class Thursday morning “Look for the Good”. Here you are with Good news. This shall be my gratitude as well. ❤

    • Holly, You’re so sweet! You gave me the biggest smile with your note!! Thank you!! So true, LOOK FOR THE GOOD! I sometimes think it’s easier to expect bad things than good things! xoxox, Brenda

  8. Brenda, I think I was holding my breath for you too. And I am so happy that the results turned out to be positive. Love and best wishes to you. Have a wonderful holiday season. MH

  9. Yes, I think we were all holding our breath for you!! Thank goodness all is well and you can relax! Now young lady, chin up, thank God and get on with your life, you have a lot of living to do. Not to mention a lot of writing for your blog friends to enjoy as well.

  10. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of getting regular mammograms Brenda. I hate them as they hurt like hell but I always make sure I go when called and the momentary hurt is nothing compared to those who get a diagnosis. I was holding my breath with you and am so glad of the words you heard this time. All the best #mlstl

    • Thanks Debbie! We all dread our mammograms and wait on pins and needles for the results. I’ve had two mastectomies. One breast was recreated using belly fat, the other is an implant… which the mammogram machine has damaged. I have an appointment next week to make sure it’s not leaking! Eeek! My best to you as well, sweet lady. Brenda

  11. I was holding my breath as I was reading and afraid of what would come next. So relieved and thankful that you are ok. Thanks for sharing this. Made me think of the trivial ‘stuff’ we worry about sometimes #MLSTL Shared on SM

    • You make an important point, Jennifer. We worry about silly things that don’t have much of an affect on anything of consequence and often miss the BIG things that do. I appreciate you sharing this, Brenda

  12. I’ve had that scare also with a ‘Call Back’. I don’t have the history of breast cancer that you have except for an aspiration of a benign cyst. The technician would say there is some ‘suspicious’ tissue and they need me to come back. From now on I need to tell them I need a 3D image because of my call backs. I know the JOY when you hear that everything is fine, Brenda, and the gratitude we feel for this gift of life. I’ll be sharing on FB and Twitter for #MLSTL.

    • I appreciate you, Mary Lou, for sharing. “Call backs” are something we fear and the dread we feel in the pit of our stomach is overwhelming, and you must have been terrified during the aspiration, holding your breath for the results. This year I had both the standard AND the 3D mammogram. From what I understand, we should do both as each one is better able to detect things the other can’t. Thank you for reading and commenting, Brenda

  13. Hi Brenda, what wonderful news for you and I’m so pleased they told you before the holidays. The waiting would have been nerve wracking. I lost my Mum to breast cancer over 32 years ago so I regularly have my mammogram and so far so good. Thank you for sharing with us at #MLSTL and I wish you all the best for the holidays and Festive Season. Sending love. xx

    • Hi Sue, Since your Mum had breast cancer… Have you had a blood test to see if you carry any of the breast or ovarian cancer genes? They just draw a little blood, but the answers could possibly give you the knowledge to save your life. Thank you so much for being here!! xoxox, Brenda

  14. I have to admit that I held my breath in the middle of your post, Brenda. I was then absolutely delighted to read the wonderful news. What a caring and sensitive radiologist and technician for not making you wait any longer.
    HAPPY THANKSGIVING! #MLSTL

    • Hi Donna, Too often we’re just a name or an x-ray, so to know they actually saw me as a person who would be worried and needed some answers was HUGE! I appreciate them so much… and you for stopping by. Thank you! Brenda

  15. That would have frightened me too Brenda – I hate waiting for results. Ignorance can be bliss, when you know what you’re getting into then it makes it even more worrying when things go a little bit off track. I’m so relieved it all went well and you aren’t about to launch into another battle with cancer. I’m sure you’d kick its butt, but it must be nice to not have to!
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • You’re sweet, Leanne. Thank you, but another round of breast cancer for me would mean I WOULD NOT kick cancer’s butt as it would be metastatic… meaning it would have spread to other parts of my body. Something all of us who’ve had breast cancer fear. Thanks for sharing and being part of the wonderful #MLSTL community. xoxox, Brenda

  16. Thank you, God, for Brenda! I’m SO relieved to hear that you’re good as gold. (And I know of someone whose husband left after the diagnosis – He’s a JERK!)

    • Thanks Val. I’m relieved as well, but know that at anytime, things could change. Sadly there are too many men out there who think more about themselves than they do about their wives and their family. What cowards! xoxo, Brenda

  17. Brenda, Good to hear and yes, I’m glad you didn’t have to wait all weekend for the news. A year ago this week I had my BC surgery. I think I always expected it to happen; my mom is a BC survivor. She had hers at 57 and is now 85. So I have that on my side. I always took my SIL with me for mammograms and when she got her all-OK letter and I got a phone call to come back… my heart sank. I had to wait over the weekend for biopsy results and that was nerve-racking. It’s good to hear you had an all-clear at the end. Hope you continue to have clear mammograms.

    • Dear Pat, I’m sorry you’re part of the Breast Cancer Sisterhood. Since your mother had breast cancer as well, have you had a blood test to determine if you carry any of the breast cancer genes? No one in my family had breast or ovarian cancer, but I wanted the genetic tests anyway. Doctors tried to talk me out of saying, I had nothing to worry about, but… Wouldn’t you know I carry the BRCA2 gene? That gave me the knowledge that it was almost slam dunk I would have cancer in my other breast as well, so I made a preemptive strike and had it removed immediately. Please consider it if you haven’t had the genetic test. I hope you continue to have negative mammograms as well. xoxox, Brenda

  18. FANTASTIC NEWS!!!
    WHY DO PEOPLE NOW A DAYS SCREW UP ALL THE TIME!!!!!!?
    HOW CAN THEY FORGET?
    MY BLOOD PRESSURE is HIGH from reading this!
    OFF to DRINK MY CELERY JUICE!!!!!!!
    BIG HUGS!!!!!!!
    XOXO
    PS. GO OUT AND BUY AN ANTIQUE!

    • Elizabeth, LOVED your card!!! Thank you so much! You and Banksy have a prominent spot on my fireplace. Now I’m off to read about CELERY JUICE! Who knew? I’m buying a treadmill, so I’ll skip the antique for a while. Always love seeing you here! xoxox, Brenda

  19. You write a riveting story! I was hoping and praying for a positive outcome the entire time I was reading. So grateful for the good outcome. What a Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

    • Hi Christina, I’m not sure what the problem was, but I took the liberty of subscribing for you. Thank you so much for reading and wanting to be part of our community. I have the best group of women in THE WORLD. xoxox, Brenda

  20. Those minutes sitting alone in your pink gown had to have been some of the longest & the most frightening? It is incredible the radiologist & Dr. are so thorough, but geeee…so hard on your heart.

    I went through something slightly similar recently. I sat a Cancer Clinic’s waiting area to have a discussion with a physician, only to have the sweet young woman near me sobbing. Her pain broke my heart & then I realized, will this be me next? I felt I was given a gift of being sent home knowing I was fine for now.

    I hope you never go through what you did years ago ever again. ♥️

    • Oh, Deborah! It is a difficult experience. You were sitting in a cancer clinic’s waiting room… I know you said you were fine for now, but have you had cancer? It’s a tough thing to wrap our mind and emotions around and to be able to keep moving forward. I’m glad we’re both well… for now. xoxox, Brenda

  21. Brenda – I found your blog just yesterday (January 8) and have been reading and reading… it’s like I was meant to find it. For the past 5 or 6 years I’ve had my scheduled mammogram like clockwork… and every year I’ve had to have a return visit for an ultrasound to review closer unusual formations which have turned out to be a fibrous cyst… until yesterday. I am scheduled for a sterotactic biopsy next week. Totally through me for a loop after years of nothing more than cysts. Still hoping it’s just a pocket of calcium and nothing more… but…

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