I am the chief medical officer of my house. I am religious about my girls’ health. I have the next check-ups and dentist appointments scheduled before I leave the office. I always have the appropriate medicines stocked, Band-Aids ready to be applied, and an ice pack in the fridge. I wipe the tears of a skinned knee and can work a nose syringe like a champ. When hubby is sick, I am the one getting out the thermometer and administering the soup. I am on top of every cough and sneeze under my roof.
Except when it comes to my own health. In that case, I am more of a wait and see approach kind of girl. I had found a lump in my breast one day in the shower. I shrugged it off thinking maybe it had to do with my cycle or it was just a random thing that would go away. It was weeks before I even mentioned it to my husband. I avoided saying it because it felt more real. I knew he would pressure me to go to the doctor, which he did. And he should have. Hesitant and afraid, I made the appointment with my OB. In my appointment, I made excuses for what it could be hoping she would feel the same way and say it was nothing. But she didn’t. She sent me for testing. The testing didn’t look good, so I went to a specialist. And from the specialist, I went for a procedure to check it out.
I had figured at 32, I am too young to have any kind of severe health issues. Plus, breast cancer doesn’t run in my family. And, I didn’t have any of the symptoms according to Google. But there was enough there to be questioned by several physicians along the way.
All of this happened over the course of a few weeks, as my emotions and anxiety let my mind wander to awful things. I don’t want to die. I don’t want my girls to have to watch me go through that. I don’t want them to grow up without a mom, and more importantly, I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want my husband to be a single parent. I don’t want to miss going grey together. I don’t want to become a statistic and I don’t want to become a survivor. Because, to be frank, I don’t want to deal with this at all. I don’t want to have a health issue. I just want to keep going in my life. I want to worry about juggling soccer and getting dinner on the table, not life issues and decisions on surgery and chemo.
It took weeks from the first test to the last test. During that time, I found myself eating my emotions. I found myself rocking my little one long after she went to sleep at night. I was holding on because I was scared. I was scared that my life was about to take a different turn and this was something I would miss. I found myself saying yes to my kids having brownies before dinner and skipping baths. I found myself giving in to things I would have otherwise have said no to. I found myself lost. I found myself trying to put it out of my mind at all times. And waiting for the results and the answers was haunting me.
It was a Friday afternoon, a few days after my procedure. I was still stitched, tapped up and bruised. We had just walked in the door from my daughter’s Girl Scout parade. We were running to get ready to head back out the door to a Mardi Gras ball. My phone rang. I recognized the number and I froze. I knew it was the doctor’s office but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the results. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for someone to tell me the course of my life.
Mustering the courage, I answered. It felt like a 1,000 years from the time she finished introducing herself until the moment she said, “The results are conclusive you do not have cancer. Everything looks fine.” I thanked her and held it together long enough to get off the phone. I looked at my husband and I burst in to tears. I was relieved. I was going to get to go back to my normal life and put this scare behind me. I was looking at them and looking at a future far different than I was mentally preparing myself for the past few weeks.
My older daughter asked why I was crying. I didn’t exactly know what to tell her. My husband replied that the doctor called to tell mommy that her checkup went well and that she is healthy. She looked right at me and said “Mom, that is what checkups are for. You go see the doctor so you can stay healthy.”
She could not be more right. It is easy to get lost in the every day. As a mom, I put my kids, my husband, my job and my housework before myself. I will skip exercising to get the time with my kids. I will grab a granola bar instead of a healthy breakfast, so I can get the laundry done. I do. I do. And, I do. But I need to stop.
I need to remind myself that I can’t put my health off. My health needs to be a priority because you don’t realize how valuable it is until it is questioned. My health is my future. So I am making sure to take care of myself in a holistic capacity of eating better, exercising, preventative care (not just the annual OB/GYN apt) and mental health. I need to show my girls that I want to be here for their future. I need to be the example.