A Fork in the Road: My Journey Intersected by Breast Cancer

By Trudy Samsill

I have a story to tell you. Some of you already know most of it. It’s all about God-whispers, forks in the road, and breast cancer. It’s about me….

Most days I awaken with a deep desire for two things:  God and strong coffee.  This day was like any other.  I crawled out of bed, shuffled to the bathroom to brush my teeth, looked in the mirror and moaned at my reflection staring back at me.  Messy hair and rumpled clothes would have to wait to be brushed and changed.  I needed coffee and God, in no particular order.

The October 2017 morning greeted me with a gray sky and chilly breeze as I held my first cup of steaming magic in my hands.

Smelling the aroma brought my senses a bit more alive.  I did my usual walk from window to window, then paused at the back door and stared out of its full pane of glass. The back pond was alive with a kingfisher and blue heron, each eating their fill too.  I love my morning routine, checking to make sure all is right in my world outside the windows and door, inspecting the view around our home and drawing in each sight of beauty.  It’s soul-food for me, this Paradise in Texas, a combination of God’s handiwork and my joint effort to feed His creation and tend to these birds and squirrels in my yard.  It brings an element of peace and a sense that all is right with the world.You need to go have a mammogram. I blinked rapidly at the strange words that flitted through my mind. Again. You need to have a mammogram.

My yearly well-woman check-up was approaching in two months.  Two months after I had just turned 50.  I’ve never had a mammogram before.  My girlfriend and I have joked for years that we would know if there was a problem with the “girls” so why have a mammogram?  How invasive and personal and touchy-feely and unnecessary. Those were for women who needed mammograms and suspected a problem, not for us healthy women who had no reason to be squished and groped and pained and embarrassed by man and machine.

Go get a mammogram.  Soon. Shaking my head I returned to the coffee pot for another refill.  I sat down on my couch this time and opened my Bible.  Nothing jumped out at me.  I had no direction in my reading. That’s not God’s fault; I was too distracted by the unexpected sentence that would not be silent in my mind.

I am the queen at reasoning and self-talk and rationalizing.  And so it inwardly began.  “Fine.  I’ll have a mammogram.  I am 50 now and that’s just what you do.  And my doctor has prodded me for 5 years now to have one.  I guess I’ll make an appointment so she will not gripe at me in December when I go for my check-up.” (I truly have the sweetest, best doctor in the world!  I know she just wanted me to get checked out for good reasons. I was just being stubborn.)

A 2016 December check-up came with the routine exam and another kind admonishment to “get your mammogram done because it’s important at your age, Trudy” and I decided to go have one the following January. So in 2017 a week after my check-up I scheduled my first mammogram.  When the day before rolled around in mid-January for this appointment, I cancelled it.  I just didn’t want to go.  I didn’t feel like I needed to, nor did I want to have it done.  I was truthfully unsettled about the mammogram so I cancelled it.  I don’t do things that I have a choice about unless I have peace about it.  It’s difficult for me to explain but I had a sense of “don’t get it done yet.  Not now.  Later.”  It wasn’t fear.  It just didn’t feel right in the timing of the mammogram.  I cancelled the appointment with the promise to reschedule soon.