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Weathering Life's Storms

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Recently I had two doctor’s appointments. They were scheduled right after each other. I am not usually nervous when I go to my physician for routine visits, so I sauntered into the first appointment and sat down, with absolutely no concerns. At all. My first exam was my regular OB-Gyn visit. After my exam, the doctor said she noticed something that concerned her. She said during the conversation “I am not saying you have cancer, but you will need a follow up exam for us to rule it out.” I was stunned.

The next day I had my annual mammogram. After the exam I received notification that a suspicious mass was observed which may be indicative of breast cancer. More tests would need to be done. Two cancer concerns in two days.

Thankfully after all the follow-up appointments, an out-patient procedure, and additional tests no cancer was found. However, what really unnerved me during this entire ordeal (and trust me it was an ordeal) was my reaction.

Many people who know me often describe me as strong. I know that as black women we have begun shying away from that descriptor and placing more emphasis on expressing our emotions and not acting in ways which suggest we can easily carry the burdens in our relationships and yes, even in our communities.

I thought I was strong too. I also thought I had faith which would ably carry me through life’s challenges. Uh…that is not what happened. I was nervous, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. The possibility of being sick was never far from my thoughts.

After everything was over, I tried to process how I let fear so readily and forcefully overcome me. When I talked to Teresa about it, her response was that my reaction was normal. I think so too but it has caused me to set a new goal as I approach 2024: to be mentally tougher and to better manage my emotions.

I remember an interview that Earl Woods (father of famed golfer Tiger Woods) did years ago. In the interview Mr. Woods said that while Tiger was physically gifted for the sport, his mental toughness was what set him apart from others. He said that when Tiger gets in a tough spot on the golf course, he never panics and because he doesn’t panic, he can strategically figure out the best course of action to take for him to win.

This recent health scare showed me clearly that I have some deficits in this area. I have known for years that I was a bit of a hypochondriac; however, I thought I had learned to manage it. Turns out I haven’t but I will definitely be working harder to not think the worse when storms come in my life. Life will always have peaks and valleys. I want to be like Tiger. I want to stay calm, not panic and strategically figure out my next best move.

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