For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you can just skip over this post because you probably have read most of it before.
This year, I had, well I guess realistically I am still in the midst of, a breast cancer scare. For four and a half months, I went through mammograms, ultrasounds, an MRI and two biopsies (the doctors are going to begin testing again in six months because they couldn’t completely rule out cancer). I think for most people this would be challenging, but for someone like me, who is overly anxious every time there is the involvement of a doctor, it can be more than tough. I get so anxious around doctor’s that the last time I was in the emergency room, they were not going to let me go home because they couldn’t get my pulse below one hundred. My pulse always runs high, but it can go as high as 150 at the doctor’s office.
Anyway, it has been a stressful year. During the stress of appointments, the possibility of cancer and all the treatments that would require, my husband had one health issue after another. He has an autoimmune disease, so his immune system is weaker than most of us. This year he had mono, two bouts of tonsillitis, a sinus infection and a virus that itched like wild and covered his whole body with circular sores except for his face, hands, and feet. (He just started breaking out with it again).
Well, during all of this I had to find a way to deal with the possibility that I might have cancer. I thought about chemo, radiation, surgery, etc. I also thought about dying. Eventually, at least on most days, I was able to get my thoughts to focus on the fact that I am almost 52 years old. That is not young. I am not ancient, but I have lived a pretty full and in some ways fantastic life. I have traveled to Egypt, Isreal, Cyprus, many countries in Europe and South America. I have a college degree and still take classes to further my education on a regular basis. And most importantly, I married the love of my life and had almost twenty years with him – twenty years spent with the person you love most on the planet. I realized that I couldn’t complain about the life I have lived even if it involves breast cancer.
My health up to this point has been relatively good. I have had many opportunities. I have never been hungry. I have never had to live without shelter. I have never lost anyone I love to violence or war. Compare this to the stories around the country and especially around the world, and you can easily see what I mean. Also, if I do have cancer, I have health care and a team of doctors that are perfectly capable of providing me with excellent care and treatment.
I can’t say that I am always this positive. I have my days, and to be honest, I have only reached this level of acceptance and gratitude around my health. The next thing I have to tackle is how I feel about my husband’s health because even if he cuts his finger, I have a near breakdown. I worry endlessly about him, his happiness, his health, his whole life.
So, don’t think I have this positive attitude thing covered. In some ways I do, and in other ways, I have a long way to go, but every negative thought conquered is a battle I have won, and I’ll take all my wins and collect them like pieces of gold.
For those of us with a mental illness, we need a treasure chest full of that kind of gold to keep us going. I have a few more pieces now, and that is something that makes me richer – no one can complain about that!