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How a Mammogram Saved My Valentine's Day

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Alamy
Alamy

Young love is passionate and big -- the kind of love everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. The feeling that together, you can take on any challenges life throws in your path. Older love is built on the same passions, yet has more of a comfortable sweatshirt feel to it -- warm, soft and so very familiar.

We move about the house in synchronized fashion, forging forward through our daily routines with a goodnight kiss at the end. He finished my sentences, makes me coffee and makes me laugh. In the 32 years I have known my husband, our love has morphed into something so comfortable that I cannot imagine my life without him.

I had never imagined his life without me.

Last February I felt it. Shocked, I felt it again from a different angle. There was no question -- I had a lump in my breast.

The voices in my head argued back and forth for hours, neither one believing the other. It will be fine said one voice while the other chimed in with you are so screwed.

My doctor made room in her afternoon schedule to see me, and confirmed what I had found with a look of concern on her face. Then she pointed out several more lumps -- lumps I hadn't even noticed. Her concerned expression remained.

She quickly wrote up referral paperwork, said to call them immediately and not to hang up the telephone without an appointment this week. I walked to my car in stunned silence.

The first call was not to the breast specialist, but to my husband. I needed to hear his voice, needed to be reassured that our lives would go on as usual. To know that at least I had him in my corner, no matter the outcome.

He was strong -- so strong for both of us. I made appointments and blocked off my schedule, and he did the same. The scheduling clerk on the phone said the appointment would be very long. I started hearing medical jargon I wasn't used to hearing.

Diagnostic imaging, biopsy, fine needle aspiration, procedure room.

I wasn't afraid for what was happening to me, I was terrified of what might happen to my husband. No matter how comfortably we move through our days together, we've always had each other's back. Our comfortable existence had moved into a different realm, and I didn't know what to do. Without me, he would be left to raise our teenage daughter through her high school years, and our son in college would certainly struggle through losing his mother.

I couldn't let go of the irony that all of this was happening right before Valentine's Day.

We drove to the Breast Center in silence, a casual comment here and there but nothing about the hours of medical jargon we were facing. Once we were seated in the waiting room, he reached out for my hand and squeezed it firmly. Whatever the outcome, I knew he had my back.

This is what we meant when we said for better or for worse, I thought.

Hours later, after imaging and procedures and poking we had our answer. No cancer.

And I had my Valentine's Day gift -- another day with my husband.

Young love? There's nothing else like it.

But I'll take old, comfortable love anytime.