Of Mammograms and a Rising Star

I am trying to figure out how to open this post with something snappy that will make everyone click through, and I’m coming up blank. There are weeks when all you can do is put your head down and charge through. But I realize it’s pretty whiny to call what I experienced the past seven days “intense.” After all, the tests came back negative, and my book won a contest!

But still.


I knew last week was going to be bad going in. And by “bad,” I don’t mean “I hate my life,” I mean, “My life is so crammed with richness this week, I don’t have time to work, exercise, do dishes, or sleep.” Of course, it didn’t help that I started the week with the last two weeks’ worth of laundry to fold, plus a child home sick, and already four days behind from a trip to southern Illinois.

k-presentation_optI launched into Tuesday still playing catchup, and tacked on eight more PT sessions for Julianna to the list of Places To Go And Things To Do in the coming weeks. But the day went as smoothly as it possibly could have, and that night I got to talk about writing for forty-five minutes to people who actually wanted to hear about it! (Gasp!)

I also begged for clemency from the teachers at school for one of the Thursday events, so by Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., when I was at last sitting at the kitchen counter in an empty house working on my new novel, I thought I was all done with “My Life is Madness” and had reached smoother waters.

And then the phone rang. It was the hospital. I thought, Huh. This must be about Julianna’s PT.

Until the friendly lady on the other line mentioned the cancer center. And I thought, Oh, right, I had a mammogram last week.

And then she said, “Do you have a minute to talk?”

And I thought,

Oh, crap.

Because we all know good news involves a breezy twelve-second script and a hasty hangup. Never, ever, ever “a minute to talk.”

As we discussed 3D mammography and ultrasounds and what to do with my preschooler while I had the followup screening the next morning (doctors in a hurry: also a scary sign), I shoved a rogue hairband around the floor with my toe and tried to emotionally dissociate. I carefully reminded myself of the controversy about whether it’s really even useful for women my age to have the test, because the false positive rate is so high. Keep it together, I told myself.

“Do you have any questions?” she said at length.

“Many,” I answered, “but I’m pretty sure you’re not the one I need to ask them of.”

I was pretty emotional for a while. I resisted the urge to go public, knowing it was likely nothing and would trade a few hours’ worth of lonely terror for a whole lot of messy, public cleanup on the back side if everything turned out fine.

Which it did, by the way. Turn out fine, I mean.

But as you might imagine, by the time Friday night rolled around, and I knew the announcement of the Rising Star winners was imminent, I was emotionally exhausted. And then, just when I thought it was too late at night to hope for good news, the Facebook messages started pouring in from my friends gathered in Albuquerque, and the contest coordinator called.


How does one react to such an honor? Amazed, honored, overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support of my online community of writers…and a little too stunned by everything else to properly process it. (I still am.)

And how does one decompress after such a week?

Like this.

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