Photo: WH Kubik
I was busy packing food and other items for a family camping trip on a hot summer day when my phone rang. Figuring the call was about my biopsy results, I took it in my home office to keep my kids from overhearing.
The doctor’s office manager — who had never called before — said the results of my recent breast biopsy were “consistent with cancer.” I took a deep breath and looked out the sunny window into my grassy backyard. She went on to say something about invasive ductal carcinoma, that it was high grade and very aggressive, and I should meet with a surgeon as soon as possible.
I calmly said, “Okay,” scribbled the name and number of a surgeon she recommended, thanked her, and hung up. My thoughts swam. Does “consistent with cancer” mean I do, indeed, have cancer? How much time do I have left? What about my family? Should we still go camping?
Not letting the reality of my diagnosis sink in, I called my husband at work and coolly told him about the phone call. Bob had myriad questions, which I couldn’t answer in my dazed state. He said he would come home. I collected my nerves and placed a call to my mom to inform her of this latest development.
“Oh, this is horrible,” she said.
My voice cracked, and tears spilled. I apologized.
“You’re sorry? I’m sorry for you.”
“I’m sorry for telling you at work.” But there’s no good time to share that kind of news.
Excerpt from my book about my breast cancer journey, Help! I’m a Science Project, available on Amazon, Kindle and CreateSpace.
Photo: Pia M. — Vittoria S.
Have you ever noticed how the way you perceive a situation makes it reality to you? Right or wrong, that’s just the way it is. And it’s true for everyone.
But what if your perception is inaccurate? Does that mean your reality is inaccurate too? And if so, how can you fix that?
I experienced a false reality recently when my mind played tricks on me. Because I expected a certain situation to be something it wasn’t, I convinced myself through little “clues” that my expectation was reality — nearly to the detriment of others.
Fixing that false reality involved long, uncomfortable conversations and feelings of uneasiness. I had to deal with the root of the problem in order to face it and get beyond it. Then I had to retrain my mind to see situations for what they truly were, instead of what my storybook mind wanted to create them to be.
Was it an easy process? Absolutely not. But I’m better for it. And those around me are better for it too.
How about you? What false reality have you gripped onto that you need to step back, assess, face, and retrain your mind about? Although unpleasant, it’s worth the process, because the best reality is accurate reality.
Photo: Christina Ferrada
Too often in life, we’re so focused on getting from point A to point B that we neglect to appreciate what happens along the way. But what if we took time to enjoy the process?
Processes aren’t always fun. And certainly some people respect them more than others do. Processes can be trying and discouraging.
However, if we allow ourselves to look around at our circumstances while enduring the zigzags that take us to our destination (let’s be real, it’s hardly ever a straight line), we might find gems along the way — and create some memories too.
When I went through breast cancer treatments, I simply wanted to get from point A to point B and hurry the process along. But I couldn’t. The remedy to my cancer required various treatments at different times in an orderly fashion to get me to where I am today. This process took a full two years, and I couldn’t rush it, no matter how hard I tried.
So instead, I had to learn to find the good in the somewhat devastating, definitely trying, times. And you know what? I gained a greater appreciation for my loved ones. I realized the respite out-of-town adventures can bring. I began to take advantage of the opportunities I had to experience life to its fullest.
Ultimately, I learned that life is a gift, and it’s important to enjoy the journey. I may never get another opportunity like I have today. So I need to appreciate it and not take it for granted.
You can read about my breast cancer journey in my recently released book, “Help! I’m a Science Project,” available at CreateSpace and Amazon. And in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, $1 from each book sale through Oct. 26 will be donated to Team Long Live the Girls in its effort to raise funds for breast cancer research through the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"