Shortly after completing my chemotherapy and Herceptin treatment for what was diagnosed as triple positive breast cancer in February, 2014, I starting having annual breast MRIs. My Angel of an Oncologist had told me that he highly doubted that I would have a reoccurrence in my remaining breast tissue, but that it wouldn't hurt to keep monitoring.
It's been several years since I had my first one, and in the past, I would become anxious and nervous about a week in advance of my appointment. Memories would come flooding back as to why I had to go for the test and fear would take over of what might be. I would be angry at having to return to the hospital - the place which had become my home away from home for close to 1 year.
Today, Tuesday, June 8 was my annual appointment however this time, I didn't become anxious until yesterday. In the past, I would become anxious over a week in advance of my appointment. I guess that I have made some progress of keeping myself calm since I started these annual tests several years ago.
Today, my stomach didn't start to burn until approximately an hour before my departure for the hospital down the street. Registration at Diagnostic Imaging was simple only because of the young man who checked me in. He was so pleasant, kind and empathetic. As he escorted me to what he called my VIP area, he told me how he is hoping to continue his career in the medical field. He explained that I would need to change from my clothes into wonderful hospital pants many sizes too large (thank goodness for a tight elastic waist band) and long and lovely blue hospital gowns. Yes gowns! The first open to the front, the 2nd open to the back. He showed me the locker where I would put my personal belongings and then smiled as he told me he would see my prior to my departure.
I told him that his approach, his demeanour and kindness meant a lot to me and went a long way to making what could have been a very difficult moment in time much easier to deal with. I hope that he is able to progress in what is a very competitive industry. If his attitude is anything like his desire to succeed, he should have no problem.
This year, my eyes didn't get teary when I met with the Technician who asked me questions about my health history which included details about my past diagnosis, surgery and treatment. I remained calm as an IV was inserted into my left arm for the contrast material which would be injected part way through the exam.
I didn't feel embarrassed or humiliated when my first gown was removed once in the room where the test would be performed, leaving the second on, open to the front which exposed my front torso. As Covid precautions are currently in place, my mask which contained a small metal clip at the nose was changed for one without metal and I was given ear plugs and a hair net.
I felt like a pro as I quickly lifted myself onto a narrow table with two holes for breasts to fall through. As I had had a modified radical mastectomy 7 years ago, in addition to having an implant removed from my right breast which never developed, I have always found this slightly odd and humorous as I had and will always have, nothing to fall through those holes.
Before I was inserted into the machine, a pair of headphones was placed over my ears to protect my hearing from the many bangs and loud sounds which would emanate once the test started, and a cushion was placed under my ankles to relieve any pressure from my back.
I would have loved a picture of what must have been quite an interesting sight - definitely a fashion statement with the yellow hospital pants which were so long that they covered my sneakers, the drab blue hospital gown, the blue hair net, black headphones and arms outstretched infront of my head. Can you picture it? I did also have really cool white Converse sneakers on but as previously mentioned, they were hidden from view.
I was given a device which I could squeeze in case of emergency and into the machine the table and I slid. Once inside, a tube was connected to my IV for the contrast material which would eventually be released into my veins.
And then it began - a symphony of loud banging of various degrees, different in pitch and tone to the point that I almost always found it to be relaxing. As a Musician, I always found these repetitive noises to develop into a rhythm of sorts, and I would invent tunes and lyrics which I have never been successful with remembering once the test had ended. Today was no different. This is quite unfortunate as I strongly believe that I have created what may have become some top 10 rocking songs.
Before I knew it, the test was over. The tube was detached from my IV and I felt the table slide out of the tube which I had been lying in for approximately 30 minutes. Once again, I performed amazing acrobatics as I removed myself from the table with the two holes. My IV was removed, I discarded my mask and replaced it with my previous one with the small metal nose clip, put my second gown on and returned to my VIP area to get dressed.
As I departed, I did see my friend who had escorted me to the test area approximately an hour earlier - we waved and I thought how fortunate I was to have met him. I hope hat he realizes how his simple acts of kindness helped to make this experience the easiest that I have had since these annual tests started.
Now I try to forget about it as I wait for 1pm Wednesday, June 16 to see my Angel of an Oncologist for my results.
I have stated in the past that I live by the mantra "why discourage when you can encourage". This young man, whose name I'll likely never know, definitely demonstrated how acting in this manner can mean a world of difference to someone. In this case that someone was me.
My Mother once told me that I wouldn't always know who I inspired but that this was not important. What was important was to ensure that I always behaved in a way that I wanted to be treated.
It's so encouraging to see others trying to do the same thing. Now more than ever, is the time for positive energy, encouragement, compassion and kindness.
I am thankful to everyone who crossed my path at the hospital today for they demonstrated all of that and more.
Until next time, please be safe and keep well!
Neither 1 Hand Nor Breast Cancer Can Stop The Wheels From Rolling
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