Someone I once knew used the phrase “fearless gratitude” as her mantra. She was a vibrant girl whom I treasured and I honestly can say she did live fearlessly grateful. She loved life and she was thankful for her place in life. And I held this girl to such prestige for those very reasons.
I knew this girl during some of my more gloomy days when I struggled to be both fearless and grateful. I marveled at her perseverance towards positivity even when times were tough. I watched from a distance and wanted to be more like her. I grew closer to her, hoping some of her resolve would rub off on me. She was a role model to me as I sat in my shade, and I yearned to live with fearless gratitude one day as well.
Over the years, I catch myself thinking back on how I idolized this girl. When a difficult situation arises and I find myself drawing back into the shadows I think of her. I think of her continuous smile, constant air of happiness, and ease of brushing things off her shoulders. And so I choose to say, “No. Not today. Today I’m going to live in fearless gratitude.” And I do — I change my thoughts and find strength in the silver linings of situations.
Yet sometimes I need more assistance than just my own convictions. And today was one of those days.
About a month ago I received a phone call from my physician in regards to my annual physical. She opted to call me personally rather than let me read her findings online because she has experience with my anxiety issues. Bless her heart. She began the conversation calmly, saying, “I want you to stay calm and take a seat.” I was already seated, but my heart started to race.
She continued to tell me that my Pap test had found abnormal cells.
I had never received failed test results before, whether health-wise, professionally, or even in school. I didn’t know how to react.
I’m sure she told me more, but my mind was jumping a thousand steps ahead already. I was 10 tabs into Web MD when she asked me if I was okay.
Okay? That word crept at the edges of my thoughts: precancerous.
“I will be,” I answered. “What’s my next plan of action? What do I need to do?”
My physician said she had already placed a referral into our local gynecological health system to quicken the process of treatment. She wanted me to have the cells removed as soon as possible. I tried to take this as a compliment, but all the while I was questioning why she felt that urgency.
From one call to the next, I jumped on the line to schedule the next appointment. Speaking with the gynecological office, the receptionist recommended I have a second opinion done prior to scheduling the removal procedure. I agreed but also moved to schedule the colposcopy as well since there seemed to be a waiting list already. Better safe than sorry.
After being given the same results at my second appointment, I moved through the next two weeks with “FEBRUARY 14” triple-circled on my calendar. I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day, but this year’s reason far-outreached my usual disdainful criticism of the Hallmark holiday.
I spent the days leading up to the next appointment building my strength. I spoke with friends who had gone through something similar. I Googled every term I could remember being said concerning the issue. And I attempted to remain strong inwardly and outwardly.
Overall, I felt ready for my Valentine’s Day date.
The morning of my appointment, a slew of text messages provided strength and comfort to me as I mentally prepared for the unknown. I had learned over the past few weeks that the procedure was relatively common. Perhaps not for women as young as myself, but a number of ladies I had spoken to had received similar results throughout their years of the Pap test. I also had heard what to expect in terms of the procedure and after effects. By the time 10:30am rolled around, I swallowed 8 aspirin and was ready to get ‘er done.
Fortunately the procedure passed uneventfully. There was some discomfort, but overall I was in and out quickly. The doctor walked me through the process as she went along so I knew when to expect pain and when to breathe. I even made a joke here and there, in between my nervous finger-wringing and toe-tapping.
Once released, I found another slew of messages awaiting me. “How’d it go?” “Are you okay?” “I love you.”
Similar to when I received that first phone call from my physician, my heart began to beat faster. But for a whole different reason.
I am so grateful to the beautiful people who not only reached out to me today, but who have provided assurance, encouragement, and love over the past few weeks. Though I realize that my procedure was not as serious as it could have been, receiving news containing the phrase, “precancerous” is horrifying.
I am grateful to my husband for his persistence in being by my side throughout the past month. I am grateful to my parents for their care and support. I am grateful to the girls who prayed relentlessly for positive results and quick healing. I am grateful to the ladies who took time out of their day to bring dinner and laughs to the house. I am grateful for all the thoughts, words, and hugs. (And coffee — I am very grateful for the coffee, Toto.)
And I am grateful for that girl from years ago who taught me how to live in fearless gratitude. Without continuously saying that phrase in my mind, I would not be as readily able to see the positives in my life when the negatives rear their ugly heads. Strength comes in as many facets as blessings, one just has to be willing to shine a light of the darkness.
I am also blessed to have tribes who pick me up when I am down and carry me to a brighter light when I find myself blinded. With my tribes, I was able to walk into the procedure today with my head held high, fearless.
Today, I lived in fearless gratitude to those God has placed in my life. And I could not be more humbled or honored to be surrounded by these courageous and loving people.
I am one blessed girl.