Not a picture of me.

All right, I admit that I’ve gotten away from my own challenge.

Last week I kicked my schedule into high gear: Rehearsals for my first professional theatre gig in a long time, which basically amounts to almost 40 hours a week of (wonderful, fun, glorious) work.  Rehearsals also for two cabaret nights, one last Sunday (in which a 10-15 musical was to be written and performed within 48 hours) and one this Sunday (wherein I will share the stage with six of my favorite people).  Preparing the house for a big, two-family shindig next Monday morning to celebrate Thanksgiving early.  (This will be the first time Eric and I have comingled our two families in an official way, so stress walks alongside hope that all will be well and the morning won’t devolve into a scene from Flirting With Disaster.)  Preparing ourselves also for a Thanksgiving retreat with two other couples who were dear to Eric’s heart before I met him, and who have become dear to my own heart as well.

So yes, morning pages became easy to forget until the four o’clock hour.  Financial upkeep sometimes slipped several days.  I have yet to spring out of the house on an early misty morning to jog to my favorite playlist.  Best life, eh? I thought as I, once again, flew out of the house with my hairbrush still in my hair and my checklist untended.

Amidst this, a strange lack of sensation in my left breast sent me into uneasy denial last week as I rehearsed the shows, prepared the house, and waited for the meeting with my OB/GYN.  The appointment on Monday produced some concern about a possible mass, and so sent me into a 24-hour dance with all the worst-case scenarios that I could muster.  With three breast cancer survivors in my maternal line, it was difficult to keep the catastrophizing down, no matter how much new-age positivity I thought about applying.  And truth be told, I didn’t actually apply any of it, opting instead for surrender since that seems to be my path lately.  I surrendered as much as I could to my fear, my anxiety, my helplessness, and the big one that I chose to really watch.  My shame.

I have been on an active path of health and healing for all of my adult life.  A perusal of my bookshelves will find half of the Borders Self-Help section, followed by half of the Barnes & Noble Alternative Medicine section.  (A scant 2/3 of one shelf is dedicated to fiction.  I kid you not.)  I spend more money than most would on organic, local, seasonal, pastured, grass-fed food.  I pay thousands of dollars out of pocket each year to get the kind of health care that I want: natural, holistic, non-invasive, focused on health and not just the elimination of dis-ease.  I have tried on many helping careers over the last ten years, and more than almost anything, I love to talk about how to live a life of vibrant health.

So, as totally irrelevant as these questions are, I could hear my internal judging self asking, What did I miss?  How could I allow this to happen? (By the way, these are really unhelpful and, as I said, irrelevant questions, so I do not recommend exploring them in such cases.)  Luckily I was able to pull myself back from going down that particular rabbit hole, and stay uncomfortably surrendered in the powerlessness of not knowing.

Yesterday morning I shelled out a lot of money (I don’t spend a lot on my health insurance, so it doesn’t spend a lot on me) to undergo three hours of pinching, poking and prodding.  And I was happy to do it, because it would bring me information, and knowing (even bad news) is better than not knowing.  Try it out sometime – which is scarier, the monster you can see or the one you can’t?

While in the waiting room, a woman came through with a look of grief and shock like I’d never seen.  I barely, just barely, held my own fears and tears in.  I sent her as much energy of healing and peace as I could muster.  I thought a lot about my friend Kelly, who was recently diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer, and wondered what conversations we might have depending on what I found out.  I have always had great admiration for her no-nonsense, let’s-get-down-to-business-and-stay-positive spirit, and in light of her diagnosis that admiration has only magnified.

Just after noon, I was told that the mass was not there, and I do in fact have healthy tits! Winning the lottery would not have felt better.  The tears were droplets of gratitude as I left the breast imaging center and went home to my dearest love, who greeted me with great relief.

So while my busy schedule has been knocking my checklist down day by day, I notice that another list is emerging.  It’s showing up in the titles of these blog posts.  Can you see it?  At the end of my life, I wonder, which list will have become most important?  Are both important, in different ways?

Whichever list(s) I pay attention to from now on, it will include regular self-exams.

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