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In January, I had my yearly mammogram.  Although it was only a routine test, this year I opted to have it done at a new facility—one with state of the art equipment and the promise of less discomfort.  In preparation, I secured my old records from the previous facility and brought them with me.

What can I say about it?

New equipment.  Still uncomfortable.  Whatever.  Done.

A month later, I received a letter from the new facility stating that they were “evaluating my case” and that they would contact me at a later date once completed.

Wait a second!

“My case?” I thought to myself.  What case?  I had a routine test, not a case.  Nevertheless, I managed to shrug it off after opening my electric bill, cable bill, etc.

Admittedly, it’s wasn’t the letter I had been hoping to receive, but I reasoned that it was taking a little longer due to the new facility needing to incorporate old film from an older, more outdated system.  No problem, right?

A month after that, I got another letter.  But it wasn’t the same.  It was one of the letters that no woman ever wants to receive from her mammographer.  It read: “abnormal mammogram/right breast’.

Instead of the “happy letter” that usually comes every year (shortly after the test), this one stated that I needed to come back for “additional tests/surgical biopsy.”  To say I was devastated is an understatement.

Why?

Just two years earlier, I had received a similar letter regarding my left breast.  As it turned out, I had calcification in my milk ducts that required surgical removal.  It was a painful procedure, make no mistake, but I was ever so grateful it had not been cancer, as suspected.

Now, this new letter was discussing possible complications with my right breast.  Would I be lucky enough to get away with evading cancer again?

Already eating away at me was the fact that my maternal Grandma died with breast cancer at 34 years old, when my mother was just a child.  This made it difficult for me to have to tell my mom that my mammogram had come back “bad” again.  I didn’t want to worry her or other family members who had assisted me through the previous ordeal.  So, I kept it to myself.  I figured I would casually bring it up a day or so before the retest.

As fate would have it, the weather refused to cooperate.  Snow fell and, long story short, I missed my retest appointment.  I had to wait another two weeks before retesting.  Right then, I was glad that I had kept the incident to myself.  No one was the wiser…and no one could pull their hair out in the interim.  But, with that, I had nothing but time to pray that Yah would move in my favor.  I ended up telling my family two days before the actual exam.

I finally arrived at the facility to be retested.  I noted quite a few other women there for the same thing.  They too had received the unwanted letter.  Apparently, that was retake day.  One by one, each of us took the retest.  After a battery of tests, additional mammograms/sonograms/xrays, some were cleared while others needed additional testing, biopsies, etc.

In my specific case, it was ruled that the abnormality had been a false alarm.  Nothing showed up on the screens, test, after tests, after test.  Nothing was there.  Nothing!  I was cleared without further ado.  See you next year!  Yah had indeed ruled in my favor.

But, although I was excited, I was muted.  I felt badly for the women who had not been cleared and whose lives would never be the same as a result.  They were in for a journey that I had had a front row seat for with many of my own family members and friends.

For me, it was over.  Instead of going for a surgical biopsy, I could go home.  I could go home.  And, l did just that, rejoicing all the way!  But what about everybody else?  And what about the support they need to get through what’s coming?  What about that?

Can anybody hear me?

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Ever wonder why everyone around you seems content with everything in their lives while you are, for the most part, discontent and out of sorts?

Ever sit back and watch as they frolic to and fro? Ever notice how they all interact together in the office, at the mall, on the subway etc., while you sit on the sidelines?

Even if you are roped into participating in some of the conversations, you realize the whole time that you would rather be in a dentist’s chair having a root canal? It’s not just that the conversation is particularly uninteresting; it’s that you just don’t care about any of the so-called hot topics!! Your mind—your heart—is elsewhere!!

So, you smile and chime in with a well-placed, “aha” or “um hmm” as long as you can get away with it without being noticed. Even on the occasion, where you are pretty much busted for not paying attention (your aha should have been an um hmm), you get yourself out of it with charm. You’re good with that! People are drawn to you. Yet, the whole time, you could care less about anything happening around you.

It’s not as if you want to join in the festivities or become a part of the overall social machine. I mean, you like your individuality, yet your very individuality is what’s making you an alien among men—and women too, for that matter.

You marvel at how people meet and greet right there in front of you, yet you haven’t the energy to join in even when you are attracted to someone (every blue moon). So, if they don’t approach you in quite an obvious fashion, the moment is lost. And, you’re even okay with that!!!

So, after much pondering, I have concluded that I am an alien. I guess my mission is to find other aliens? Can anybody . . . any other aliens hear me?

Well, it’s the end of yet another year, and year endings always make me wax just a tad bit melancholy. So, this year, like so many others, deep sea diving is my activity of choice.

To that end, I remember back when I was a child. Like most children, the only thing on my mind was growing up. You might say I was in a rush to be what I perceived as grown-up. From my vantage point, it looked like fun! As a result, my childhood is for the most part, a blur.

Anyway, as an adult, I would be able to wear make-up. I would be able to party all night. I would be able to drink alcoholic beverages. I could smoke cigarettes if I wanted to. It was going to be so much fun! Nowhere in my visions of adulthood did I plan for babies, bills, weight gain, menial jobs, heartbreak, old age and, if that ain’t enough, menopause!

For some reason I can’t explain, I didn’t really equate sex with babies. I know it sounds crazy but, sex was supposed to be . . . well, impromptu, exciting and most importantly fun! Part of the fun was the Russian roulette you played with your life! Right? I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? You get pregnant and marry the bozo with the malfunctioning condom. Never mind that neither of you could barely support yourselves with your low-paying jobs! Somehow, it would all work out! Raising a kid couldn’t be THAT hard, right?

Then, enter HIV and AIDS and suddenly, the worst thing that could happen to you was no longer an unwanted pregnancy! Fun could cost you your life!!! So, you make a full circle back to religion in the hopes of cleaning yourself up, only now you’ve eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Church, not nightclubs, is now your new stomping ground. Good luck with that vow of celibacy!

By now, baby daddy is less than impressive and you’ve traded him in for a vibrator. The checks he sent as child support, all five of them, have now ceased when you refused to take him back. Now, you’re a single parent, you’re older and more determined than ever to clean up your life.

Around that time, you meet HIM. You know the one: he wasn’t really your type but he had a car and didn’t hate your kid. So, you took a risk on him. Only then do you learn that he is rebounding from a situation that he never spoke of! All of a sudden, he’s got more baggage than you! If only you had known that before the birth of your latest child!

Now, you find yourself tired and exhausted! What next? You give up on that plan of action. You realize that you’re going about this all wrong. So, instead of trying to find someone whose presence can magically wash away years of stupidity, you start working on doing that yourself. You stop looking for someone to make you happy. You decide to be happy no matter what! You stop looking for someone to validate you. You realize that you are already valid. So then, you make choices with YOUR (and your children’s) best interest in mind. You become your own advocate. More than ever before, you become willing to learn new things without ever compromising who you are. You stop and take frequent inventory of your life. Then, once you’ve done that, you use this information to become better, not bitter. Finally, you learn to set frequent goals for yourself so that you don’t end up working so hard for a life you didn’t plan on much less want!

Can anybody hear me?