All clear

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NYC Flower 1.jpg

My inspirational message of the day, from TUT’s Universe: While someone might choose to face lack, disease, and adversity in their life, it would never be their “destiny.” Just strategically placed hurdles that will sooner teach them to fly. NOW, spread your wings.

I’m delighted, just hours after my previous post to report that all IS clear! After a few stressful moments with two doctors and a technician surrounding the ultrasound machine, exploring like adventurers in a new land, I discovered that the 2mm lump is a benign cist! Nothing new in this territory! YAY!

Yes, it looks like this was a hurdle, strategically placed, to remind me of my power to fly!

* The photo was taken in New York City at a flower shop on the street, where dozens of magnificent bouquets lined the sidewalk. I picked it because it looks like it is about to take flight.

I thought it was all clear

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Yesterday, I was crystal clear what an important milestone this particular doctor visit was: my 5-year mammogram. I felt confident it would be clean, but not completely certain. I took time before my appointment to sit quietly with myself and to explore what I was feeling. I discovered I was not afraid. Mostly I was curious.

My radiologist was super – showed me the image and complimented my peck muscles. She said that because my muscle was so defined, it was easy for her to see that she got all of my breast in the image. I have to say it was an impressive solid bar of muscle – I’ll keep up with my daily 30 push ups! 🙂

I can’t even express how relieved I was when my oncologist told me the mammogram was clean. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

You can imagine how the wind was knocked out of my sails when, during her examination of my breast, she felt a lump under my nipple. We agreed probably nothing to be concerned about, but best to be safe.

So I am once again waiting, and wondering. However, with all the training I’ve been doing – being present in the moment – I am not letting the story run away. I am present here and now, and know that whatever comes, it’s a journey that will enrich my life in ways I can’t even comprehend.

In fact, this event has already led to so many touching moments, including special prayers and intentions with family and friends. I feel I am being held in rich soil and opening to the sun.

Related posts:

* I took this photo in New York City at a flower shop on the street, where dozens of magnificent bouquets lined the sidewalk.

Mammo

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Today was the day. Annual mammogram. As much as I tried to play it down, rationalize it as just another doctor appointment, the fear got inside me, danced on my heart. Strong emotions, from deep within, crept up uninvited. Worries about worst case scenarios. Visions of the train leaving the station again. Brought me to tears having to validate the answers to the check-in questions – yes to positive mammogram, to lumpectomy, to mastectomy, to implant. It still doesn’t seem possible that healthy little me is a cancer survivor.

It is with incredible relief that I say my fears were unfounded: mammogram normal. YAY!!!  Indeed, a case of False Expectations Appearing Real. I can let go of that fear now…ahhhh.

Overall, this year’s experience was better than last year’s. Guess that’s not surprising – having been through something once makes it less unusual the next time.  I wrote a poem after my 2012 mammogram that seems appropriate to share here.  Then, for a few moments, I thought I had another abnormal mammogram. Words somehow seem inadequate to capture all that raced through me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically; I just can’t seem to capture the fear and anguish that moved through me, nor the enormous sense of relief upon hearing the actual results.

Here’s to another year of being cancer free…

Mammo
By Vicki L. Flaherty

The anticipation –
if you can call it that –
had been building.
The appointment was imminent:
first annual mammogram
since the ‘big surprise’ of 2011.
My ‘bosom buddy’ and I
playfully refer to the procedure
as our ‘mammo’.
As if it is something fun.
In actuality, it’s not.
Scary now.  Dreadful.
We know what can follow
this miraculous diagnostic procedure.

The reality comes vividly to life
in the breast imaging waiting room.
A form to fill out –
update actually, since last year’s ‘gram.
Heartbreak as I change
the ‘NO’
for biopsy and lumpectomy
and mastectomy and reconstruction
to ‘YES’.
All in pretty pink ink.
It forces me to accept the reality of it all.
Will cancer continue to challenge me?
‘Til when?

Joking with the radiologist:
“At least I just get to do one boob now.”
The jest releases pent up anxiety.
She plays along:
“Maybe you should get a discount.”
My left breast –
the apparently good one –
squeezed flat, then from the side.
The awkwardness and discomfort
taking my mind off the fear.  
What will these images show?
Will the train of cancer start
chug, chug, chugging again?

I find myself waiting
back in the lounge.
Reading a magazine
or trying to – distraction welcome.
A doctor calls my name.
My heart begins to race.
He invites me into the examining room.
“Oh, my God!” races through my mind.
Here we go.
I’m light-headed.
In disbelief.
The train is leaving the station again.

I have to shake my head,
clear it when he says:
“Nothing abnormal.”
And, again, in my head –
or was it out loud this time? –
“Oh, my God!”
“What a relief.”
The train isn’t moving.
At least this year.

© 2013 Vicki Flaherty

(I selected the above photo because it is an image I have of a healthy breast. You can read more about the bouquet here.)

The magic of flowers

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Last time I posted, I wrote about the association I have of healing with flowers (see Healing Energies).  I have a vivid memory of the first time this association became conscious. It was after my initial diagnosis when I was waiting at the hospital for my radiation consult. I recall closing my eyes and taking several deep breaths, releasing the stress and claiming calm. As my heart and mind and body slowed down and came to the present moment, I saw a vision of healing light on my breast (I was, after all, in the radiation department).

I kept working the image…bright yellow light, like sunshine, the kind that helps flowers to grow. The light shined on my breast and in my breast grew a healthy, beautiful flower. The flower multiplied until there was a raucous bouquet – of big white daisies, delicate and sweet purple columbines and pansies, pink roses, yellow tulips… They all stretched toward the light, toward the nourishing, healing light.  This initial vision of my breast as a bouquet of flowers came to me many times. I went to it regularly to connect with the possibility of healing and health. Ultimately, I scribbled out the poem, My Garden (below), to capture some of this experience. When I took the photo in this post of a late fall garden bouquet, it reminded me of my vision and the delicate beauty that resides in my breast (which had since been reconstructed).

My Garden
By Vicki L. Flaherty

I envisioned
Rich dark earth
That nourished seeds
And sprouted life
As flowers
A beautiful bouquet

Then there were weeds
So I put on my gloves
And grabbed my shovel
I gently uprooted
That which did not belong
So the collage of flowers
Would flourish in health
And incredible beauty

The garden has been invaded
Trampled by footsteps
Like a dog has enjoyed
A delightful little jaunt
Th rough the magic
Of Mother Nature

The flowers are crushed
The earth pressed down
It’s unnerving
The sensations and sadness
Of this new reality
I challenge myself
To move through it

And once again
I grab my gloves and shovel
And move the earth
Prepare the bed
For a floral display
That will emerge
Majestic and grand
Rich and colorful again

© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Mostly My Heart Sings