Monday, April 16, 2007

No Coincidences

In November 2000, I found myself sitting in the office of a breast surgeon. She had examined me and was studying my radiographs. "We can't tell for sure without a biopsy." I was numb as I made the surgery appointment and walked in the dark to my car. I could only think of my dear friend Charlene, who was on the losing side of a seven year battle with breast cancer.

I was sitting in my car and shaking, shaking so much that I could not turn the key. I remember saying out loud "God I'm so scared." I finally gathered myself and turned the car on. My car had a fully loaded six CD changer set to random play and when I turned the ignition on, the music started. The very first lyrics I heard knocked the breath out of me. Here I was, as scared as I've ever been in my life and I was given the only two words that could possibly ease my panic.

The lyrics I heard? "Fear destroys." I firmly believe there are no coincidences and I knew those words were a gift to me. I realized then and there that fear was a useless emotion and I was somehow able to put it aside. Once the fear was gone, what I found instead was an awareness of feeling protected and a certainty I would get through this - no matter the outcome of the biopsy. Thankfully, my biopsy was negative.

Why relate this story now? I recently had another abnormal exam. But this time I did not let the fear seize me. I had learned my lesson, once and for all - "fear destroys." Yes, the fear automatically welled - but I was immediately able to banish it. Fear was quickly replaced with optimism, patience and strength. Once again, I was blessed with negative results.

Sadly, I lost my dear friend Charlene in January 2001. I think of her everyday. Not only because I miss her, but because I still marvel at the tremendous faith she had for seven years, as the cancer ravaged her. Up until the end, she was optimistic and sure of a cure. She had obviously discovered that "fear destroys" long before I did. Fear was never in her vocabulary, not even when facing death. As a former priest of mine said, sometimes death is the ultimate healing. I think Charlene knew that.


QUASAR9 said...

Hi Sunflower, just been on another blog with a not unrelated theme about the randomness of why some are ravaged by disease and pass away whilst others seem to skip by untouched or unscathed.

I have no answer, I have no cure
But it surprised me that what most affected you was your friend's faith that a cure might be found.

Was her faith then unfound?
Surely her faith was that despite the ravages to the body, there is nothing to fear - how much surgery and pharmacy is based on allaying fears, and is ultimately inadequate

Often I find, doctors and dentists can tell us what is wrong, only then to tell us that the treatment costs too much or is not available, and the 'cure' cannot be found.

Physical decay is there (or here) from our head to our toes, the only thing that we can really change, is how gracefully we deal, with what is treatable decay, and what is NOT, and what is then part of growing old - or growing cold as a disease gets hold

CreekHiker said...

Sunflower, My own sister has fought with this dreaded disease several times now. And in spite of so much time spent in doctor offices, surgery, and just being ill, she still has hope. She still thinks life is so precious and she loves every minute.

I too believe in those wonderful random things...I've seen too many to NOT believe.

Hang in there. Holly

QUASAR9 said...

Breast Cancer Diagnosis From Combined MRI-Optics Method

Sunflower, I often wonder, whether we've missed something obvious, in both the casues and the treatment (or cure)

Dr.John said...

Fear does destroy. Our mind makes the worst possible monsters. Putting them aside allows us to deal with reality. You have learned a good lesson.

Jackie said...

You are aptly named, girlfriend! So sorry for the loss of your friend. And so glad you were able to find your way past the fear. My mother died from breast cancer, and I was scared out of my mind when I had to have biopsies twice. I would even have to take anti-anxiety meds just to go for my mammogram, for years. It took me a long time to learn the lesson you've learned. It's only been the last few years that I am able to do it without the fear. You rock!

BobCiz said...

Facing the unknown generates the fears we have when confronted with a dire medical diagnosis. But once we know what we are facing, dealing with it can banish the fear. Knowing that we are doing all we can to fight the medical condition makes living worthwhile.

Katie McKenna said...

A wonderful tribute and belief. Thank you for sharing.

Secret Simon said...

"Fear destroys" and the conclusion you drew from that, "fear is a useless emotion" are both equally true, I believe, and it is important to bear both of these in mind. Freedom from fear does not guarantee a positive outcome but it optimizes its chances in all walks of life, not least in that of health. In your friend's case, this didn't appear to be achieved, in spite of her optimistic attitude. So would she have done better to spend her time being fearful after all? Of course not. The fear would have eaten away at what was left of her life - far better to spend it happy and optimistic. And as you suggest, there may have been more to the outcome than we can know.

Kat Campbell said...

I believe there are no coincidences either. This was powerful and touched me. I have four sisters, all have lost their breasts to cancer, my natural mother lost her life to that dreaded disease. I don't know why I was the lucky one.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Q9 - No, I don't think her faith was unfounded, nor did it ever waver. She knew what she was up against and she faced it with grace, hope and love.

Thank you also for the MRI link. I think I had read about that - the specialists are not all of one mind on this as it could also make for many false positives and unnecessary biopsies/surgery.

Holly, Charlene was just like your sister - ever hopeful. Prayers that your sister stays in remission. Please tell us about some of your not so "random" moments, if you get the chance. I have a few others myself that I may need to write down.

So right Dr. John. I always say I'd rather know the worst, than not know at all. Much better to take things one day at a time.

Thanks Jackie, but I had "help" in conquering that fear - it was an amazing thing. You have every right to be frightened with all you have been through in losing your own mother to this disease. But you can't let it get the best of you. A hard thing to do, I know.

BTW, Welcome home!

Yes, Bob - the unknown is the scariest - it could be ANYTHING. Taking action always helps - we are in charge of our own destiny, no matter what indignities are thrown at our physical bodies.

Katie, I'm so glad you stopped by. Thank you.

Simon, very well put and argued and I agree completely with everything you said. I can't speak definitively about Charlene's outcome - but she was very much at peace when she left us.

Kat, so much devastation in your life, I'm so sorry. Don't let your "escape" haunt you, just be thankful for your blessing.

QUASAR9 said...

"Up until the end, she was optimistic and sure of a cure."

High sunflower, I was not questioning her faith as such.

I still think there is something obvious and simple evades us, we can get lost in our own research, we can get lost in our own multimillion dollar grants, but there must be some unnatural reason why the body cells 'rebel'

No Solution to Cancer?
Have our gene's evolved to
Turn Against Us

High levels of antibodies, low levels of Cancer?

Sunflower Optimism said...

Oh, now I understand what you mean, Quasar. Same with the RA I have - why is my immune system suddenly rebelling against me? There has to be a trigger, we just don't know it yet.

There is so much "unnatural" around us - the pollution, the stress, the food additives - we are not living as we were meant to. There are consequences.

Mark said...

First my best wishes to you!
I agree, fear does destroy! There is nothing to ever fear.
Sorry that you lost your freind, I am sure that you learned many lessons from her.

Marion said...

For sure that song was no co-incidence, especially when it burned into your soul like that, knocking the breath out of you.

I'm so sorry about your friend. It seems she left you a great gift in showing you how great faith can bring one through.

Velvet Sacks said...

Sunflower, your positive outlook never fails to inspire me. I'm glad you got good test results.

Anonymous said...

SO glad that you again received neg. results. Sorry about your friend. And you are in inspiration! xoxo

Jackie said...

Just checking. Hope all is well in your world, and that you are off enjoying yourself. We'll be waiting.

"Angeldust" said...

It's been a while... you were battling the microwave lightbulb...

I don't have anything to add to your in depth sharing.

Otherwise I have very strong views not only on the increasing number of diagnosis but, also the contuos bombardment we are subject to trough all media.

I am vaary happy to hear you are well and I am sure will continuo to be so!

Love, joy and laughter

CreekHiker said...

Sunflower, It's been so long... HOW ARE you??? Please post something... Holly

Jackie said...

Are you ever coming back????? I miss reading you - and I STILL don't know how the lightbulb thingy came out! :-)

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Miss you!

Kat said...

I couldn't be more worried about you Sunflower. Miss you.

Belladonna said...

My heart is with you. I too recentlly had an abnormal mamogram and felt myself gripped with fear.
Turns out I'm ok for now - the follow up ultrasound indicates benign cysts. But the timeI spent going through tests and waiting for answers was indeed scary.

I keep turning over and over in my head "why me?" Why should I come through unscathed when so many other good women have lost breasts or lives?

Even though the news for me was good, it served as a real wake up call about keeping my life in order because there are no guarentees.

Also it was a lesson learned about fear and the place I give it in my world.

Know my thoughts and prayers are with YOU.