Before Thanksgiving, I had my annual physical which included a routine mammogram. Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family, but colon cancer does.

I was told I’d receive a call if they needed to see me to recheck my breasts. I received a letter instead. I chose not to open it until Sunday, and when I did I wasn’t too worried for I’d been called back before. When I logged into my electronic health chart, the news was harder to take. My films were presenting calcifications in a lymph node and one area within my left breast. I was gutted.

The range of emotions I felt were unnerving: ranging from pity to “fuck you”. There wasn’t anything I could do until Monday to book an appointment. I was placed on the waiting list for Tuesday, but had a solid appointment for Friday. Friday was the day I was rechecked, but the week of waiting was part empowering and part depressing.

In all, going through this alone without a partner has been tough. Yes, I have a small network of solid friends and a wide network of distant relatives and friends for support. What I needed most was a hug–physical touch for comfort and hope. I made it a priority to seek it out and found one soul who was there for me most. I’ll never underestimate the power of someone’s presence and hugs.

My attitude now is surprisingly light, having had a biopsy that was unsuccessful and requires another attempt next week. I’m not passé, but really, I don’t know the results. Considering the turmoil that I self-inflicted on myself last week, I can’t afford to go through that again. At least not while I’m still considered healthy. Besides, I’ve got a lot of options if the news turns out unfavorable.

Thank you Phoenix for being there on the day. Thank you Yanee for being there afterwards. Thanks to the motorcycle community for the huge bear hugs the day after. Thanks to dozens of you for following through with phone calls as promised. Your advice and words of encouragement are so very appreciated. I’m going to lean on all of you hard. When I ask for a hug please come through for me. Besides, I’m kind of cuddly and soft. You’ll get something out of it too. To my family, I so appreciate your support and am planning on squeezing you all over the holidays!

I did not see this diversion on my map. No GPS to guide me through these events, but the tar road hasn’t run out on me yet! Lots of experienced guides are available, and I’ll tap into them once my diagnosis is made.

Thanks for everything, and let’s stay positive. I’m not doing this alone. For that I’m very grateful.

Now then, go get yourself checked–especially the ones who have put off doctor visits for that little odd something that isn’t going away.

Hug much, love with an abandon, and ride safe.

P. S. Here is a TED Talk that proves this important fact that coping with stress in positive ways (like being social and giving/receiving hugs) is crucial to resilience and empathy. Enjoy. Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend