Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Optimism


I am not known for my optimism, cheery attitude, nor smile. Honestly, the only notoriety I have is from my blunt and sometimes loud speech. However, in the past year, I have realized a truth that should be obvious- be happy. Be happy with what you have. Be happy about who you are. Be happy about the things you can control, and damn the things that you can’t.

This wakeup call was a longtime coming. It seems that I have spent most of my life since age eleven moping. I wasn’t moping about things that were superficial, my attitude was understandable, and my troubles were common. But I could have been happier if I just had a better attitude. I sound like a well-meaning but annoying parent right now, but hear me out. The things I was once anxious about, like my breasts (or lack thereof), my skin, growing up, friends fading away, they all have a common denominator: they are things I can’t control, and while they are sad, disappointing, and sometimes heartbreaking, I still can’t do anything to solve them.

Last October, I was told that I had a giant fibroadanoma in my left breast. To those who don’t speak medical mumbo-jumbo, a fibroadanoma is a moveable clump of cells or mass which can spontaneously develop in breasts. They are usually benign, and I was lucky, because mine was. My fibroadanoma was medically classified as “giant” because it was more than 3 centimeters long in diameter. Giant fibroadanomas are most frequently found in African women. I am as white as you can get, so my case is as statistically random as breast cancer among women can get. How often do doctors diagnose sixteen-year-olds with breast masses? Not often at all. It’s very, very rare. My fibroadanoma was no new appearance in October 2011. It had been growing exponentially since September 2010. Between the months of July and October, the size of the mass doubled. By the time October rolled around, it dominated my breast. It was hard to the touch, and really, really embarrassing.

It was removed. I had a great surgeon who specialized in removing breast masses. My teachers were flexible; I did great in school that semester after it was over.
But after my surgery, all of my friends were embarrassed to talk about why I had been absent from school. The parents of my close friends didn’t know what to say. It was a painful procedure, I still have a dent where the mass had been, and the scar is still quite clear.

But after I woke up from anesthesia, and after I found out that I did not have breast cancer, I decided that life was too short to be perpetually upset about things I can’t control. So I’m limiting my moping about politics, my lack of a social life, and school to thirty minutes. Because even though my school is really difficult, I have met so many amazing people and learned so many things about the world I would never have learned otherwise. Because even though the outcome of the presidential election determines a lot about my life, I can’t vote, and some things will never change. Because, despite the fact that it was more likely that I get into a car wreck than have a breast tumor, it happened; and I got my choice of doctors and surgeons and hospitals because I live in the best possible place to get a procedure, and thousands of women don’t have that privilege.

I have friends and family who love me, a school that has taught me more than I can say, a religious community that supports me, and a loving partner who makes me laugh on the bad days.

I am so very blessed.

So I no longer complain about how I don’t fill out bathing suit tops, nor do I despair over guys’ (stereotyped) tendency to go for girls with big boobs.

Because I’m lucky that my scar is relatively small, and that I even have any breast let over after surgery.

And while I know that this blog is mostly devoted to the things that are going wrong, and that is important to acknowledge, I just wanted to make sure that at least one entry was about something that was right.

It’s a cliché, but don’t sweat the small stuff. The things that you can’t control, while significant in your life, are not worth your angst.

It’s better to move on. 


Helen

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