Listen to this story
Listen to the call.
The importance of listening to your inner voice to avoid what you never want to happen.
On Friday, November 17, at 9:30 am, surgery began on my right breast. Recently I found a small lump, maybe half the size of a pea. It was hard, round and new. Within days I was getting a mammogram and an ultrasound. Knowing that it could be something I didn’t want it to be, something that has affected millions of women (and some men) and five women in my family, felt surreal. I am 36 years old and healthy, and I’ve tested negative for any genes associated with this thing. While in the waiting room, paper gown draped across my chest, I paced back and forth, back and forth, reminding myself of all the reasons it wouldn’t be something and that if it was, well, it seemed early and they could just take it right out. It was tiny, or, um, felt tiny.
The nurse came in to talk to me about the test. You know that feeling when people are being extra nice to you, like you’re delicate and/or on the verge of losing it, so they’re walking on eggshells and turning their voices up an octave or two? That’s how it was with everyone that hour. Kind, gentle, reassuring, yet with an undercurrent that they too thought I might walk out of there knowing I had something I didn’t want to have.
I thought about this blog post. What I would say if I did have something, how I’d say it, how I could use it to help others. And if I didn’t have anything, then how I could use the experience to share an insight into being grateful for your health when you have it. I find such joy in writing, telling a story and connecting with readers. And as Brené Brown notes, what we all want is deep connection.
I don’t have cancer. At least, they don’t think so. It seems to be some sort of innocent lump. The doctor told me the options I had for removal or biopsy. I asked her, “How worried are you about this?” She said she wasn’t. Very low risk.
I left the office agreeing that I should get it removed. I mean, why wouldn’t I? Low risk isn’t no risk, and well, that breast feels different than the other, energetically. I can almost feel this very slight line of pain going from my nipple area up to my collarbone. It’s weird, but I can feel that it’s different.
I called my husband on my way home from the appointment. He was relieved. I was relieved. I told him I was going to get it taken out.
That was six months ago.
You see, this happens to us all the time. When we’re close to something, especially if it’s a near miss that involves heightened emotions, we experience a flood of energy to change, to take care of it, to fix whatever is broken immediately. The longer we wait, the less the urge to get uncomfortable and make the change we need to make. This goes with our health, our marriage, our jobs, our lives. Think about it. How many times have you had a horrible fight with your spouse or partner — maybe it went on for days — and you thought, “This is it. We need serious help or this isn’t gonna work out.” And then you make up, life resumes and you never get the help. The issue isn’t resolved, but it’s not in your face either. Same goes for the job that drives you nuts and drains your soul. You go in, week after week, until that one day when your boss or coworker throws you under the bus in front of people you admire and you come home ready to quit and find something else. As time passes and you’re enjoying a little watercooler chat, the free bagels on Friday, and your paycheck, you say, “Well, it’s not that bad.” And you stay. You stop thinking about finding a better fit. You forget the call that urged you to move on.
We are great at ignoring calls.
Calls are moments in life that inspire us to change.
They are opportunities to get in front of a bigger issue down the track. They are signals, from something we don’t quite understand, to get movin’… out of comfort and down a new path.
Two weeks before the surgery my husband and I hosted a Friendsgiving dinner. Days before, I’d begun thinking I should just get this lump taken out. It would cost around $2,000, even with insurance, and when you’re building a company from scratch, $2,000 is a lot of money that could be used for other things. So I put it off, waiting for a better time or for it to just go away. I mean, the doctor said it was low risk and she wasn’t worried about it. Yeah, I felt that this breast was different. Yeah, I felt like energetically something was off. But I ignored all those feelings for six months until just days before this feast. Maybe it was time to get it removed, I thought. I just knew something seemed off with that breast.
Before our friends came over that Saturday afternoon, one of them asked if she could bring her mother. Her husband was on a commercial shoot and her mom was visiting to help take care of their baby. “Of course!” I said. “We’d love to have her.” Her mother came over and was lovely and everything you’d want in a mom — she even showed up with a basket full of warm muffins. (No, really.) While she was drying dishes and I washed, she looked into my eyes with an intensity only a mother can and said, “Promise me you’ll get that taken care of. Get that lump taken out.” It took me aback. I mean, earlier that evening the topic of my breast lump had come up casually, and I mentioned that I was likely going to get it taken care of, but it wasn’t the focus of the conversation. We’d moved on. For her, there was no moving on, and the deep care she showed for me hit me to the core. I told her I would. I promised.
On Monday, I emailed the doctor to schedule an appointment and book a date for the OR.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this woman, whom I had never met, was meant to be at our Friendsgiving dinner. That she was there to underscore something I already knew: that I needed to get it taken care of. Yes, it’s $2,000, but what I’m saving, perhaps things money can’t buy, I hope to never find out.
Where is this happening in your life? Where are you getting called to wake up to something greater, or to take care of something now that you have been ignoring? Please. Get it done. Do it now. And even if it’s something you think you can do on your own, don’t be afraid to spend the money to make sure it happens. I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe in messages that are being delivered to us all the time. We get the sense of where we should go, what we should do, how we need to grow or change…. But then fear takes over. The fear for me was around my business. Could it succeed if I spent $2,000 on this instead of on my business? But how short-sighted is that? I was living in a place of lack, imagining that this $2k was the make or break for my business. No, it doesn’t work that way.
How it works is that we’re tapped on the shoulder and nudged. It’s our job to listen to those calls and take action, immediately. Because they’ll come up again and again and usually, as in my experience, in more intense taps until you’re being shaken vigorously to wake up and follow the call!
Don’t wait for life to throw you a curve ball. (Um, did I just make a sports metaphor? Whoa.) You will never hit the home runs if you don’t tap into the nuanced messages that show up in our life daily.
Same thing with coaching. You likely know you have some soul-searching to do. There are some changes needed in your life. You want to feel different about how you spend your days or about yourself. Get the help now. In three months, you could have a whole new perspective that helps you make the changes you need to make. Or in six months you might have found love, opened your heart and believed in a life you thought would never happen.
You see, life is gonna unfold. It’s going to do its thing. So you do yours. Promise me, you’ll listen to the call.
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