Last week I went for a breast check for the first time in 7 years. The last time I did was in 2015, a few months after my sister died of breast cancer.
It wasn’t a surprise that the check-up was triggering. The first thing the doctor asked me was, Are there any complaints? And my answer was, I have a family history of breast cancer. He laughed and said that this was not a complaint, and we proceeded to the examination. I was lost in my thoughts when he said I had cysts in both breasts. At this point my heart started pounding and it was the only thing I could hear. The doctor continued with the reassurance that this happens to every second woman and there are no reasons for concern for the moment, but we need to keep an eye on things. He tried to put me at ease when I shared that my sister was around my age when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and that the outcome was fatal. I left with the determination to come back for another check as soon as in three months, not feeling at ease despite the doctor’s encouraging words.
On the way back home my head was in a haze. I remember holding in my hand the sheet with the check-up details. I think I was in a state of disassociation – disconnected from my body. Meanwhile my thoughts were racing. I was contemplating my “sentence”: it’s only a matter of time before I get diagnosed, my mother and my sister both died of breast cancer – so I will too, there’s no getting out of this – one day it will happen.
The check-up also brought up the painful memories of my sister’s death – how awful it was, how violent it happened, how my life changed forever, how I sank deep into depression, how much I struggled to keep going.
Even after 7 years, I still struggle. No matter how much I try to heal, the wound is still bleeding and feeling raw. Sometimes things are good and at other times, the pain spills over everything. Something small can trigger an avalanche of feelings – sadness, grief, depression, despair, anger, rage. There are days when I wish that it never happened, that my life wasn’t torn to pieces, that I didn’t have to deal with all this.
I find it difficult to accept. I can’t understand why it happened and I don’t know what to do with it. And I feel angry that it had to happen. It’s unfair that my life had to be ruined and my future stolen away in this way. It is as if you’re wearing a black stain which you can’t rub off no matter how hard you try. It’s there for life like a tattoo – a mark, a cross, a brand. My life and future have been tarnished by the black ink. And I can’t find acceptance nor peace through my rational mind.
But there’s another, more sophisticated part of me that is telling me it wasn’t for nothing, that God works in mysterious ways, that there’s a higher idea. It’s telling me that the only thing I can do is to surrender and ask for the strength to believe, to find faith. It’s saying that I need to let go of my need to understand, know and make sense of things.
I can hear loud and clear this part of me saying through my heart one word – TRUST.1