The waiting game

Friday, October 3, 2014

Life these days is a bit up in the air. I'm sure most parents can remember the feeling, but I have to admit it's a little weird to think about a 6- to 8-pound creature, who isn't even here yet, stopping time this completely.

We spend a lot of our time waiting for things, but I don't know that anything quite compares to "medical" waiting. Whether it's waiting for a baby to arrive, or waiting for a diagnosis to come through, it's a different species all together.

In addition to being "the month" for me, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you haven't seen your television turn from a rainbow of color to a mono-shade spectrum of pink, just wait. Everyone is wearing pink to raise awareness, as if people are still yet unaware of what's going on.

Breast Cancer, or any cancer, for that matter, seems to be one of those "them" situations. We see and hear of people all around us who are diagnosed, and we feel bad, but in the back of our minds we can't seem to comprehend the idea that we could in fact be diagnosed as well, at any time.

About three years ago, at the end of October, I was forced into the realization that I could be one of "them." I had found a lump on my breast, and within a week I was in an other-wise unknown doctor's office waiting for the medical professional to tell me that what I had felt was just a cyst. Unfortunately, it wasn't a cyst. That appointment lead to another appointment, this time with a "breast specialist," which eventually led to a biopsy of the matter.

At the time I was 23 years old. I was healthy, I had never smoked and I rarely drank. Cancer was something that happened to older people who had lived full and ideally satisfying lives. It didn't happen to girls one year out of college.

Fortunately, the lump was deemed benign, and no further action was needed. I didn't even need to have it removed, and to this day I don't know exactly what it is. While I'm sure it'll be monitored, I'm not in any eminent danger. And yet, I am acutely aware of how different the situation could have played out.

The waiting game I'm in now reminds me of the waiting game I was in then, with a more certain and less nerve-wracking conclusion. But there are thousands of women (and men) who are in that game now, and who don't know how things will turn out. The only thing any of us know is that the sooner something is found, regardless of your age, the better the situation will be further down the road.