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Kay Warren: Another Mammogram, Another Chance to Surrender

Kay Warren: Another Mammogram, Another Chance to Surrender


Jun 28 2013
Once a year, I allow myself to worry about a recurrence of breast cancer.

Editor's note: Kay Warren shared the following stream-of-consciousness reflection on her Facebook page on Thursday. It is being reposted here with her permission.

Another day, another chance to surrender. Another anxiety-producing event, another opportunity to choose joy. This morning was my annual mammogram – the one day a year I allow myself to worry about a recurrence of breast cancer.

When I finished treatment for breast cancer nine years ago, I determined that I was not going to live the rest of my life looking over my shoulder to see if cancer was coming after me. I had done everything the doctors recommended – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and 5 years of an estrogen-blocking drug – there was nothing else medically I could do. Now it was completely up to God.

I've always been prone to hypochondria (embarrassing but true), and if I followed my natural bent towards anxiety and fear, I saw a long future ahead of me filled with sleepless nights, constant checking of any tiny abnormality in my body, and a complete and utter lack of joy as I anticipated cancer's possible return.

I gave myself a good talking to – and decided that while I cannot ultimately control the length of my life, I can certainly control the depth of my life; not the quantity of days on earth, but the quality of those days. Did I want fear and anxiety and worry to be my legacy? Or did I want to live passionately, freely, fully embracing every day as a gift from God to be used for his glory? I chose joy!


And that's how it has been. Except on the day I get a mammogram.

And on those days once a year, I remember not to use deodorant or lotion or perfume before the test. I remember to wear pants rather than a skirt or a dress because the ridiculous little cape they make me wear at the breast center only comes to my waist. Cape, I said. Which means it flops open at the slightest movement – and if it isn't bad enough to be going for a mammogram (it hurts!!), feeling anxious and nervous, you have to be concerned about exposing yourself to every other woman in the place as this flimsy, treacherous piece of fabric draped around your neck refuses to stay closed. (Side note: is there any reason they couldn't put more than one snap at the neck??)

The test is over in minutes. Most women get dressed and leave without knowing the results, but because I've had cancer before, my doctor graciously prescribes a diagnostic mammogram, which means I sit in the waiting room—holding a magazine and mindlessly turning the pages—until the radiologist reads my films.
 Waiting to hear results.

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