Call This Number
1. A text from a college roommate to our regular group chat that the results from her needle biopsy were negative. She went for a follow-up mammogram probably weeks and weeks after she should have due to the insanity of the spring, and spent several tense and worried weeks this summer in waiting rooms for MRIs, surgery consults, and picking up films. The needle biopsy confirmed that whatever they saw was benign. Nothing to worry about. But this same friend has a strong family history and we just plan to keep worrying anyway.
2. The next day, a text from the husband of high school BFF that Jen was out of surgery, they think they got it all. She’ll have to have four or five weeks of radiation, but they caught it early due to a mammogram. Also a family history, but her genetic study was clear. We’ll keep worrying just the same.
3. The next day, a text from a friend. Laura died, after a courageous battle with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She lived her truth very much out loud, as all the best writers do, and as I scrolled back through facebook posts, I wept at her willingness to share the details of her journey. This is a trip that no one wants to take, and she took it very publicly. Somehow, she made her terribly story beautiful in the way only a writer of her caliber could. In fact, if she were editing this (we edited each other for many of the early years in our careers, which took us in different but somehow parallel paths), she would cross out courageous and tell me to find a better word, something less predictable and expected. But she was courageous. She didn’t hide. She faced it head on, and she shared the grim and gruesome facts with her friends — as a history, and as a warning. As a reminder all the time to prioritize your health and your beliefs and not to wait for the bad news to find you. Go get it, and fight it head on. Through it all, she was a fierce advocate for justice and kindness.
Through it all, she was fierce.
Get.Your.Mammogram. Don’t wait. I know you have to virtual school and get fall clothes for the children that have grown three sizes this summer. I know you have dinner to make and postcards to write and laundry to fold. I know you have no family history and no reason to worry. Just shut up and stop making excuses and make your health the priority for once. Get your mammogram.