And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
I thought seriously about putting off this Moment until tomorrow. I post the Moments on Thursday, but my whole self is focused on Friday this week. Friday is Spend-The-Afternoon-At-The-Cancer-Center Day.
It’s time for the mammogram again. And the bloodwork. And the visit with my medical oncologist. And you know, since June 20th, 2017, the word “just” has been taken out of this type of routine appointment. It’s no longer “just” a mammogram, “just” bloodwork. And there didn’t used to be “medical oncologist”, as well as “radiation oncologist” and “breast cancer surgeon” in my vocabulary at all.
So all of my attention (and nerves) is on tomorrow. And it’s a double-whammy mammogram now – I’m worried about if it will come up clear, of course, but the last mammogram, this past August, caused trauma to the affected breast and I ended up with a whopper of an infection in the surgical site. Cellulitis that landed me just outside the doors of the ICU. A drain stuck into my breast, which was a year and two months cancer-free. Six weeks of hardcore antibiotics. And a breast that no longer looks anything like it did, pre- or post-surgery.
So I worry. About the outcome. About infection. About if they are even able to do a mammogram at all, and what they will do if they can’t. And what that new procedure will cost.
So I nearly put off This Week’s Moment by a day. But then I told myself that that’s just not the mission of the Moments. The Moments are about finding a positive even when things are feeling not-so-positive. Even when things are feeling scary.
So. This week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Tuesday this week was gloomy and rainy and just bleh. Kinda like today, come to think of it, though we’ve had the addition of snow and ice and high winds and thunder and lightning. But that day, it was just rainy and gloomy. Michael needed to do the grocery shopping, so I dropped him off at the store.
Before I drove away, a bright spot of pink caught my attention. There was a man walking toward the doors. He looked like an old farmer, wearing a tattered barn jacket and baggy jeans and beat-up work boots. His shoulders were slumped from years of hard work. And over his head sprouted the most improbably bright pink flowered umbrella.
It was shaped like an old-fashioned parasol, with a tight ruffled circlet at the top, fanning out into a skirt of hot pink, dotted with fluorescent flowers.
In my car, I laughed out loud.
As a child, and even now, I hated (hate) umbrellas. They’re hard to maneuver, and they’re supposed to be bad luck if you have them open in a house. I’ve never learned the magic that allows you to slip inside, leaving the umbrella pointing outside, and manage to close it before you get wet. I always end up snarling and soaked, throwing the umbrella open in a corner, and then stomping through the house.
Somewhere around the third grade, the bubbletop umbrella came out. It was see-through, with a bright color ringing the bottom, and it was longer than most umbrellas, coming down in a protective bubble over your shoulders. You could duck under it and still see where you were going because of its transparency. It was all the rage and my umbrella-hate turned to umbrella-envy. I even had it on my birthday list. And I got one!
Once school started, I prayed for rain. Hoped, wished, rain-danced for rain. And then it poured. I proudly stuck the umbrella through the door, popped it open, and somehow stepped smoothly under it. Not a drop hit my little head.
But as I walked to school, a massive wind went under the umbrella, blew it straight up and over my head, turning it into a parachute. It flew over the ground, bounced once, landed in a creek, and washed away, never to be seen again.
I hate umbrellas.
But now, this old farmer with his pink umbrella. And it got better. He looked over his shoulder and, following about five feet behind him, was a little girl. She was stomping through the rain, her arms crossed over her chest, and the look on her face said it all perfectly. “Umbrellas are stupid.”
But her grandfather held her pretty pink one. And he was nice and dry. He held his hand out to her and she stomped up to him and plastered herself to his side, still with her arms crossed, still with her umbrellas-are-stupid face and without actually touching the umbrella herself. They went into the store, she ahead of him, and he, so help me God, managed to turn and close that thing before it crossed the automatic door’s threshold.
I smiled all the way home.
Tomorrow, I will cross the Cancer Center’s threshold. I will stomp. My arms will be crossed over my chest. Cancer is stupid.
But I’m going to hang on to the image of that grandfather. Hopefully, I will walk back out, smiling, not a drop on my little head.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.