The Decision is In

Well, the decision is in. It happened just like I was told it would. Being faced with the daunting decision of whether or not to remove not only one part of my anatomy, but an additional and equally important part as well. Honestly, I hadn’t been toiling over the decision as much as a person might that found themselves in this position. I mean, I thought about it on and off, but there are always so many other things happening in my life, that my focus ends up in many different places, almost simultaneously. I guess that could be a good thing, because it doesn’t allow me to dwell on any one thing. Instead, I flit around from one issue to the next, sharing little pieces of my attention respectively, much like a bee that buzzes around from flower to flower. After all, there are so many choices. I wonder how the bees decide where to begin.

On the morning of my follow up appointment with my surgeon, I woke up and I knew immediately what I was going to do. There wasn’t any fuss or muss and I saw things with a clarity that isn’t always a part of my decision-making process and for that, I am very thankful. As I lay there calmly, looking around my bedroom, the decision floated into view as vividly as the clouds in once blue skies, that signal the impending rain that is sure to follow.

Okay, so that part is done and I am content with my decision. Well, as content as anyone in this predicament could be. However, the hardest part is still to come. Yes, I have come to a decision concerning breast cancer surgery but along with this knowledge comes the fact that I will be minus two parts of my anatomy that I have lived with my entire life. My breasts have always been a special part of my body and I’ve always valued and revered their beauty, their purpose. I can’t help but wonder what a woman does when she has this mastectomy surgery that removes her entire breast(s)? How does she feel about herself when she looks in the mirror? Does she worry about how her husband/mate, family and friends will view her post-surgery? I am now that woman with all these questions.

I’ve had my share of surgeries in my life time but this one will be the most intricately personal one by far. A woman’s breasts can instill a whole lot of pride or they cause her to bear the brunt of much shame, when faced with their surgical removal. However, I will remain alive and well as a result of this decision. Beauty may be only skin-deep, but this experience will no doubt make me a more beautiful person from within. That is what matters most, right? I’d say, the decision is in!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Family First!!

Why is it so hard to share crucial news with family? These are the people we’ve grown up with our entire lives. Yet, it is often extremely difficult to disclose unfavorable news when these unexpected times arise. I know for me, the reasons vary widely.

I never want to feel like I’m burdening my family with any issues that pertain to me. I feel like they all have their own lives with respective issues to go along with everything else that they have to worry about. So why would I come along and make their load(s) even heavier? That being said, what’s worse, not sharing important life events or unloading all of our chaos on our families?

I chose to share my latest health crisis with each of my siblings, one by one. Each of them is so very different. It was so hard to say the words without choking up. These are the same people that I used to run, jump, skip, get into trouble at home with, defend from punishment until the end. Being the oldest of my siblings, sometimes holds me to a higher level to be emotionally and physically strong. So, when illness started visiting me more often a few years ago, I felt like I was somehow letting my them down. It was as though I was somehow damaged and that they could no longer look to me as their solid pillar of strength. Illness had chipped away at the ‘rock’ that they’ve always known me to be. So, here I was again, showing them that transparent and most revealing side of my vulnerability with this latest health interruption.

My family has been there for me through some very rough times. As I sit here writing this piece, I don’t recall them ever making me feel like I was weighing them down, in terms of giving them one more thing to worry about as a result of sharing. They’ve always been gracious and willing to jump in wherever and whenever I needed them and that is priceless. After all, that’s what family is for right? I guess I would feel pretty bad if there was something going on with any of them and they made the decision to not share with me, no matter what their reasons were.

It is sometimes very hard to look at things with the shoe on the other foot. My family has a right to feel like they don’t want to burden me further with their problems. I certainly have felt like that before, as I touched on earlier. At the end of the day, we are all blessed with the love of family for many reasons. They are the glue that helps to hold things together when the going gets rough. The load often gets to be a little too heavy to carry alone. So, God blesses us with siblings and parents that are down here with us on earth to provide the all-important emotional support and love that is so necessary for survival.

For me, the word family exudes togetherness, love, friendship, support and strength. It’s so easy to take it for granted when you have a supportive family. Unfortunately, not everyone does. Have you told your family lately how much they mean to you? When is the last time you told them how much you love them, or encouraged them in their life endeavors? If you haven’t done any of these things lately, maybe it’s time to do that. Let them know that you appreciate them always being there for you when you really need them the most, and even when you don’t. Now, obviously I can’t ask you to do that without doing the same myself. It’s an unwritten item on my daily list of things to do. Even on those days when I don’t speak to my family voice to voice, simply because of busy schedules and time demands, I send them love through my prayers, thoughts, and hopes for each of them. A quick text works well too, just to say, I love you and I’m thinking about you. Family first I say!! What say you?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

April 2015
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