Life can be pretty scary. Today all could be well, tomorrow you might find a little lump nestled near your right breast and you wonder if things are going to take a drastic turn in the opposite direction of where you think you might be going. I’ll put on the brakes right here and preface the rest of this post by saying – I’m totally fine, I’ve been all checked out, thoroughly mammogramed, ultrasounded, prodded and groped and it turns out I have a swollen lymph gland next to my right breast. Why? Probably because the universe wanted to remind me to wake the F*** up and manage my stress a little better and I guess because I needed some blog content. ; )
So this post is not really about the lump (swollen gland) that will not do anything longterm or shortterm to my health, but will rather just sit there and make me think about my lymphatic system and my immune function and if eating eggs or dairy or breathing all the insane pollen currently in the air in Chico or the bit of extra stress I’ve been under might be making my lymph nodes swell up. This post instead is about my encounter with the practitioner that I visited to examine me soon after I discovered the lumpy intruder. I typically stay pretty far away from mainstream medical folks – mainly because I haven’t been hit by any buses lately and also because I’m fortunately, overall, besides my adrenal fatigue stuff that I have help from Dr. Brooke with, I’m super duper healthy.
However, when foreign objects appear near my breasts, I’m going to look up someone who can help me identify what’s happening.
The morning of my exam I focused on my breathing, positive thinking, visualization of a good outcome, and pretty much tried to stay calm and focused on everything being ok. I lost my mom to breast cancer so there was some pretty real fear happening and some ugly flashbacks to my mom’s first diagnosis. I don’t often think the worst in any situation and I decided from the get go not to think the worst in this one, however the fear was real. When I reached the doctor’s office they eventually led me into an exam room where the typical procedure commenced. Strip off your top and your bra, put on this silly gown, sit at the edge of the table. The practitioner arrived and introduced herself. She was nice, very straightforward, a no bullshit kind of gal which I appreciated. We chatted for a second and she then asked me to remove my gown and raise my arms up by my head so that she could “take a look”. Like a good girl, I dropped my robe and raised my hands, kind of like you would if a police officer asked you to “put your hands up”. The woman’s eyes widened and she said, “WOW, you are really muscular, you must spend a lot of time in the gym!”
For real?? For freaking real??? I’m sitting here hoping that I’m not facing cancer and you comment on my body???? Wowzers. What if I was fat. What if I was super thin. What if I had deformed breasts or a hairy chest or a huge birthmark on my stomach. Would you say “WOW you have a blankety blank?” I think because of what I do for a living it really kind of hit home in a way that was rather shocking. I try to teach women to love and respect who they are NOW first and foremost before anything else – before talking about fat loss or muscle gain or health or learning to deadlift properly. Respect this shell you’re in, love it, own it, it’s all you have. Personally – I love my body. It’s taken me a long time to get here but I love it. I love my muscles in my arm and no I’m NOT all that “muscular” but even if I was, I would still love my muscular arms. I love my short little legs that just won’t pack on all that MUCH muscle even though I’m strong as shit for my size. I love my faded stretch marks on my butt and thighs because I earned them with my three kids and with all the times I’ve packed it on and then peeled it off. I love my breasts that have fed those three babies and that definitely don’t like like perfect nudie magazine boobs but they are/were functional and good to me and good to my hungry kids. I love my hands that have had several fingers broken and callouses from barbells and burns from cooking. I love my feet that look like my moms feet looked and my knees that will always be a little funky because I’m bow-legged and I love the small bump on my nose because that’s from my mom too and my big smile because most of the time I’m really freaking happy. I’m even learning to love the wrinkles around my eyes as I quickly approach my 40’s…
However, I am a unique butterfly. Not very many women have this kind of love or respect for their bodies. In fact, it’s not every single day that I feel this positive about what I see in the mirror. It’s a practiced effort to be OK with me – and I choose to be ok with me because what you see is all I have and what you see is ALL I will ever have so I better love it and most importantly, respect it – or this ride is going to be a long and bumpy one. BUT – and here’s the but – why do we continue to comment, wonder, ask, ogle, or FIRST notice a woman’s appearance? What if I didn’t love myself and the comment of, “WOW you are muscular” put me into a tailspin, made me afraid to lift weights, afraid to be strong, afraid to be powerful, afraid to be a woman, afraid to be WHO I AM?!? What if I had issues buried deep inside of someone who used to tell me that how I looked was wrong, shocking, different. That day could have been a lot harder for me. I was at a doctor’s office, frightened – not at all thinking about the definition of my biceps or the size of my traps. I was sitting there praying that I wouldn’t have to go home and tell my babies that I have cancer. I was sitting there hoping that my breasts – my bosom – my womanly parts – that have been a part of me from day one would stay intact. I was sitting there focusing on my breathing and trying not to cry, wishing my mom was with me to hold my hand and tell me everything was going to be ok, and then, for whatever reason, the conversation turned to aesthetics??? I found myself stuttering something about how, “No, I don’t actually spend a lot of time in the gym, I just happen to own one, and I train a healthy amount – three days a week usually, and I am really not all that muscular I guess but ok, so what do you think about this LUMP THAT’S NEXT TO MY BOOB DOC???”
I hope this post will help you all stay focused on what is important, stay true to what IS true. You are ok. You are just fine, exactly where you are and how you look. I WANT you to have goals and I want you to know it’s also ok to want things to be different but if you hate the process, lack appreciation for how far your awesome body has brought you, the journey is going to be a lot suckier than it needs to be. Stop being shocked by what you see in others and hateful of what you see in the mirror and instead be awed with the power that we all possess.
Start being thrilled with the way each of us has the ability to stand out in the crowd because of our uniqueness and because of our innate desire to be exactly who we are. The most beautiful women I know are the women who own and love and respect exactly who they are. The women who wear their scars with honor. The women who wake up everyday and face the world with joy despite the imperfections that make them perfect. The women who don’t give up, who keep on fighting, who keep on searching for what will give them joy and fighting for what will help them live their best lives possible. The most beautiful women I know trump all others because no matter what the size of their muscles or their guts or their butts or their biceps they are WOMEN with every ounce of their beings – because they love and work and give and trust and try and cry and LIVE more than most and THAT is worth noticing and talking about. Beauty is your soul. Life is in your veins and your scars and your heart. Love is loving yourself first and respecting the house you are in enough to figure out what it needs to be ok, to be healthy, to be vibrant and alive and cherished.
So there you have it. I’m ok. I’ll always be ok. No matter what happens next, I’m alright with this person that I am, this shell that I’m carrying, I own it. I want you to also. Let’s do this!
All my love,