July 13

So Afraid of Shadows

July 13, 2015

Personal Growth

Lee Ann called. She was crying hysterically. “I have cancer!” she screamed. “I have cancer!”

I waited for her to calm down before saying, “Tell me some more.”

“I got my mammography results today!”

“And?”

“They found a lump.”

Being somewhat familiar with radiological terms after twenty years in medicine, I asked, “What exactly did the report say? The exact words.”

“They said they found a suspicious shadow in my right breast.”

“And what did your physician recommend?”

“That I see a surgeon for a possible biopsy.”

“Have you called one yet?”

“No, but they gave me a couple of names.”

“Okay, call a surgeon and set up an appointment. Let me know if you need anything in the meantime.”

I spoke to Lee Ann a couple of times before her appointment, and then she called shortly after it. “I’m so worried.”

“About what?”

“What the biopsy will show.”

“Hmm. Do you have the results yet?”

“No.”

“So right now you don’t know anything except that you’ll get some kind of report in the next few days, right?”

“Yeah.”

“You don’t know that a single bad thing is about to happen to you.”

“Uh, no.”

“Just checking. So now you have a choice. You can worry about it until you get the results, and spend the next few days paralyzed with fear. OR you could just let it go until you know something for sure. Choose.”

“Well . . .”

“Up to you, kid. You can worry if you want, but if you do, will that change the biopsy report?”

“No.”

“Make you happy?”

She laughed. “No. Okay, I get the point.”

Days later she called to report that the biopsy revealed a lesion that was not only benign but highly unlikely to ever become something worse.

Oh, how we love to worry. We were trained to worry. It provides a kind of exciting drama in our lives. It invites the sympathy of others. But worry never, ever makes us happy. In fact, it eliminates any possibility of happiness and can actually contribute to serious, genuine health problems.

Sickness, accidents, and inconvenient events are unavoidable in life. But worry is optional. We do not have to be afraid of the shadows that are inevitable companions to the light we enjoy. Most shadows turn out to be nothing. That doesn’t mean that shadows never hide genuine dangers. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t prudently investigate shadows from time to time. But never does worry aid us in that investigation, nor does it facilitate the joy we really want.

PCSD

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