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  • Writer's pictureFran Braga Meininger

Life Goes On

Yesterday I experienced one of those moments of “ah ha” that are usually chalked up to coincidence. But I prescribe more to the school of the benevolent universe which places in our path what is most needed when it’s most needed. I prefer to think of it more as kismet, a mystical force that carries us to our destination, sometimes unwittingly, often unaware of the choices that are magically presented to guide us there.

It all started last week. As a new Kaiser patient, they’ve been dogging me to get in for a mammogram. I procrastinated in making the appointment, feeling inconvenienced and arguing that at my age I was on the downhill of the bell curve of risk. But they persisted and I went in.

The technologist said I would receive a letter letting me know that all was fine. I didn’t. Instead, I received a cryptic phone message from the scheduling coordinator of a different imaging department, saying she was calling to schedule a follow up image. Damn.

There are few moments in a woman’s life that are more disruptive and nerve wracking than being told your mammogram was suspect. It can spiral us into a most irrational frenzy. We all do it, to one degree or another, even though we know that 90% of all second mammos result in a healthy outcome. I know that’s the statistic because I googled it, along with several other facts about breast cancer. We do that too when we get this call.

It’s counterproductive, reactionary and probably not in our best interest, but we can’t resist. The waiting is hard. Not knowing is frightening and some of us would rather prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It’s a crappy situation and there’s no good way to brave your way through it.

Some women call a girlfriend for reassurance, some tough it out alone not wishing to alarm those who love us. We all try to let it go, put it out of our minds until we can get the appointment, go through the test trying to ascertain some hint of the result from a technician who is forbidden to say if everything they see seems normal; then we wait yet a few more days to get further explanation, and the news that can either send us off for a nice celebratory dinner, or to make plans to face our greatest fear. I choose to write about it.

But yesterday, the universe intervened. It sent me someone with whom I experienced cancer in the second person. An acquaintance who was diagnosed with breast cancer while serving as a volunteer at one of the organizations I ran years ago. I hadn’t seen, nor spoken with her in over 20 years. We had lost touch and lost our connection. I never expected to find her there after all these years sharing a trail through my neighborhood park.

And the beauty of the encounter was I didn’t have to say a word about what was lurking behind my broad smile as we talked about our chance meeting, our retirement, art, writing and other more frivolous topics before we hugged tight and went our separate ways. I didn’t need the words. All I really needed was to see her there so radiant, vital and full of life and good health. It was all I needed to be reminded that life goes on. We overcome life’s obstacles with the love and support of those who love and care for us and we regain our vitality and well- being over time.

I feel better today, more hopeful, confident and fully expecting to get my all clear after the next test, having been reassured that some crappy moments can be miraculously rewritten by an unexpected encounter with kismet.

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