Benign is My New Favorite Word

11 Oct

“Mrs. Bemmes your lab results from the needle biopsy are benign.” Other than “It’s a boy” and “I now pronounce you husband and wife”, I don’t think I’ve ever heard words that brought me more joy. You see, back in June of this year, my doctor said he felt a nodule on my thyroid gland. He didn’t act like it was any big deal and said I could have it scanned. He didn’t seem too concerned, so I didn’t do anything about it. About six weeks later, his office called and said they never received the results. When I told them I hadn’t moved forward, they encouraged me to do so, soon. I figured if they took the time to call, I had better get moving, so in early September, I had my thyroid scanned. The technician told me that the nodule was actually bigger than my thyroid and that she could see it before she even scanned me. When my doctor got the results, he referred me to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who decided almost immediately that I needed a needle biopsy. That scared me silly. Someone was going to stick a needle in my neck multiple times. Yippee. To his credit, Dr Steward was efficient and quick and the procedure, with a total of seven needle sticks between the anesthetic and biopsy, was relatively painless. Then came the waiting.

It was only a week, but what a week it was. I thought a lot about my life in that week. I thought about the person I am and the person I wished I was. I thought about my relationships, the state of my home, the state of my finances and the state of my life. I thought about the anguish of possibly telling my children I had cancer and what it would do to them. I thought about people in my community finding out and the pity I didn’t want and the love I did. Because I didn’t want to announce the results to everyone, we didn’t tell people about the situation, including our mothers, because, in our minds, there was nothing to tell, yet. What I did, figure out, though, is that I wanted to live and if I was given the gift of “benign” that there would be change.

Yesterday, when the kids and hubby were gone, I thought about my life, and an amazing thing happened. I got more accomplished than usual. I give some credit to the nervous energy I was feeling about getting the results, but there was also something bigger. As I folded each piece of clothing, swept each floor and cleaned each toilet, I realized the privilege my life is and how much I wanted to go on living it. Never before did the mundane feel more Divine and blessed. Just being able to be on this Earth to walk in nature, to live in a nice home and to look into the eyes of the ones I love most seemed like a miracle, one I definitely wanted to keep experiencing. I also realized that as much as people say that a messy house or clutter or chores left undone really don’t matter in the end, I don’t want to leave my family with my mess. I looked at my home and my life yesterday and thought about the legacy that I would leave if I left this world soon, and I realized there is much to be done, quickly.

So, hearing the word benign means so much more than a nodule wasn’t cancerous. Benign means I still have time to get it right in the way that’s right for me. Benign means I can let go of what doesn’t matter and grab onto what does. Benign means I get to choose every moment of every day and that each choice can be based on love and joy. Benign means a do over in the very best of ways. Mostly, though, benign means relief and gratitude beyond measure for a life no longer taken for granted. The easiest lessons in life are those learned from the actions of others. I hope each one of you will learn from my situation so that you don’t have to have one of your own. Be well. Be grateful, and live every day as fully as you can. I love you all more than you know, even those I’ve never met. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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3 Responses to “Benign is My New Favorite Word”

  1. Johannah Dottori October 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Karen –

    Loved this. So very happy for you. I did have melanoma while pregnant. It had gone to the lymph nodes. That was 10 years ago. I can so relate to everything you wrote. I try to live those thoughts each and every day. Thanks for sharing. :). PS – I am cancer free these days and sooooo blessed!!!

    • Karen Bemmes October 12, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      I am so happy that you are healthy and happy and I love that your life path is now leading you to help others find that place in their lives too. Very cool.

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