BENIGN!!! After months of waiting, I finally got to hear that word come out of my doctor’s mouth this Monday! (Great way to start a Monday, huh?!) So, here’s the story since I haven’t told many people about what’s been going on with me lately. I went to a new dentist a few months ago after having waiting maybe a year to get a check up. After a frustrating appointment with lots of “oh, this is wrong” and “oh, that’s wrong”, I was exhausted from all of the anxiety from it. At the very end of the appointment, the actual dentist came in and checked over the hygienist’s work and did a cancer screening which mostly consisted of rubbing my neck to check for lumps, etc. And she found one! Honestly, at that moment I was so over being at the dentist for over an hour and hearing bad news about my mouth that I just smiled and almost giggled when she told me that she thought I should go have a doctor check out this lump. I mean, where the heck did this come from? I had never felt this lump. No one had ever noticed it. And here it was, more bad news on top of bad news. I was so exhausted from that appointment, I just laid there in the dentist chair barely able to move. But I had to. I had to get up, get my kids together (who behaved so well – thanks to a little My Little Pony on Netflix!), make my stupid follow up appointments for fillings, go home and make lunch, and get my daughter off to school. And all I wanted to do was go to bed…in the middle of the day! I already get anxiety from going to the dentist and this being a new dentist (and a very thorough hygienist) made the day that much more stressful. But this dang lump threw me off even more. I’m so healthy. Yeah, I’ve had my gallbladder taken out, but other than that, I’ve been extremely physically healthy my entire life. What was I supposed to do with this scary new lump? I have no idea how to be “sick”! That just isn’t me! Those were most of the thoughts I repeated to myself over an over again over the next several weeks. It took what seemed like forever to get into a doctor. I didn’t have a family doc, so I had to set up a new patient appointment. Once I finally got in, I was relieved and scared at the same time. The doctor felt the lump right away, which she said was on my thyroid, and decided she wanted me to have some blood work and an ultrasound done. She was really calm about it and said sometimes women my age get these lumps. She seemed quite optimistic about it, which put me at ease. A little bit. I was not looking forward to having these tests done, though. I knew they were necessary, but what if I didn’t like the outcome?! I can’t turn back once I know the truth, right?! I got the blood work done and then stalled on the ultrasound. The blood work came back normal, thankfully, but the ultrasound scared me. I didn’t want bad news. I dragged it out for a week or so and then finally made the appointment so I could get it off my mind. I was clearly stressed as I laid back on the ultrasound table because the tech said something like “don’t worry, this is the easiest test you could have done”. I knew that. I’ve had CTs and HIDA scans done and they weren’t fun. I knew ultrasounds were easy and painless, but dang it, I was scared. It had nothing to do with how easy the test was…I didn’t want to do it! I so appreciate her trying to calm me – and it worked a little – but I was still so scared. I waited about a week for the results of the ultrasound and then didn’t even look at them. I just couldn’t. The doctor’s office called me to tell me my doctor got the results and wanted me to see a specialist to get a biopsy done – an endocrinologist, if you’re curious – and then gave me some referrals. I wrote all the info down and hung up. And kinda freaked out. This didn’t sound good. What the heck could this be? I just didn’t want to deal with this! I made the appointment right away, though, after figuring out which doc accepted my insurance (fun!) and then told a few people close to me what was going on. I needed their support. I was so scared. Honestly, I never thought this thing would actually be cancer, but I was scared at the same time. While I waited for my appointment with the specialist, I saw a post from my friend Heidi (from Feather & Birch) of a sign she’d made for someone going through a hard time. I don’t know Heidi that well. I actually met her this winter when we both became vendors at our friend Liz’s new shop – The Found Cottage. We soon became Facebook friends and started following each other on instagram. We’d “like” each other’s photos and chatted a bit here and there at the store when we were there at the same time, but we still didn’t know each other that well. Over the next couple months, I found out that Heidi had battled with colon cancer and had clung to this verse through her journey. She had posted a picture of this feather verse on Facebook one day and without knowing the whole backstory at that point, I saw it and claimed that verse for myself right away. It just spoke to me right from the beginning. I felt comforted by it from the first time I read it and I, too, clung to it through my (albeit short) journey! There’s something about the visual of being all curled up under God’s wings like a mama bird would comfort her young. It really helped me through the waiting of the next few weeks until my appointment. Now, I was originally thinking this first appointment would just be a consult, but then a couple people asked me “well, are they doing the biopsy then, too?” I had no idea. I mean, I didn’t think they would, but maybe? So, I called the office and they said “it depends on what the doctor sees.” Ha. Okay, like that feels comforting at all! So, I prepared myself to have the biopsy that day. I wasn’t sure I’d have it, but frankly, I was ready. I’m usually a “rip the bandaid off” kind of girl, so once I’m ready to do something, I’m ready I had my (awesome!) neighbor, Meg, watch my youngest daughter while my oldest was in school. My hubby took a half day off work and came to the appointment with me. I was so nervous, I was sweating like a 12 year old boy! Haha! Seriously, though, I tried to trust in God and really knew deep down that He’d get me through anything, but the thought of a needle (or two!) being stuck in my neck just didn’t thrill me. Anyway, the doctor looked through my tests (which I did end up reading the ultrasound with my mom one day and it sounded very optimistic, I should note – I just couldn’t read it alone in case it didn’t!) – and then he felt my neck and told me what he thought. He said he’d like to do a biopsy and I almost cut him off asking if we could do it that day! I was already there, I didn’t want to leave without having this thing done. He said it should be okay, but he’d have to check to make sure they weren’t too busy. He walked out of the room and soon, two women walked in with a bunch of tools/instruments. They asked me to go sit in the waiting room so I wouldn’t see them setting up because they didn’t want to scare me. I walked out saying “it’s okay…I’m already scared!” I walked back in and laid down and they numbed my neck and then did the biopsy. The doc kept asking if I was okay because I was breathing all heavy and I kept saying “yeah”. I was okay, but I could only calm myself with heavy breathing. “Just focus on the breathing, Alli. Don’t stop breathing.” I kept saying to myself. Once it was done, I felt a sense of relief. I won’t go into all the details because I’ll probably get them wrong, but what came out of my neck was an almost black liquid. The doc thought it was old blood that had filled up in this pocket, so to speak, and was just hanging out in there. He said these cysts can start forming during pregnancies (I’ve had two) and he didn’t seem all that concerned about it. He said, depending on the biopsy results, I could have the lump removed or just keep it if it didn’t get any bigger. I said if it’s benign, I’m leaving it! Honestly, you can’t even tell it’s there unless I show it to you! My appointment was on a Thursday and the doc called himself Monday morning. I don’t remember what he said up until this, but I do remember him saying “benign” and I just started smiling and tearing up! I really, really deep down knew that this wouldn’t be cancer. But like I said, I was still scared about what the heck was going on with my body. And now I knew! I confirmed that I’d come in for a 3 month check up, thanked him, and hung up the phone. And then just started laughing and crying and smiling. It was so crazy. I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day when he called and the door was closed. My daughter heard me crying and came to check on me. I just told her I was okay and kept crying. Like bawling. But smiling and laughing at the same time! It was an intense moment. I was just so dang happy this was over. It was real. I had my answer and I could finally move on! I eventually got myself together, told my daughter the Cliff’s Notes version of why I was crying (no, Daddy wasn’t dead!), and started texting everyone I could think of! I was just so happy! I talked to my mother-in-law a bit that morning and she said “I guess it’s just God’s way of keeping us close to Him, leaning on Him, and like you’ve said ‘under His wings'”. I just thought “absolutely. yes”. The thing is, I really needed God. I’ve been needing Him for years and just didn’t know how to get close to Him. I’m not saying I have the perfect relationship with Him now that I’ve gone through this, but I can tell that He wanted me closer and He needed to get my attention to get me there. He showed me the circumstance and let me decide which way I wanted to go. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it, honestly. I feel like this whole thing opened my eyes to Him. And I’m trying to keep that closeness as much as possible. I’m talking about God more with my friends, asking for prayers when I need them instead of trying to go through things alone, and praying myself more. For me, for my family and friends, for so many things. It comforts me to be closer to God. I often envision those wings when I just feel like I need God. If I’m having a bad day, feeling insecure, thinking of friends who are having a hard time in their own lives, I’m reminded of this verse and those wings. And now I have a visual reminder in my home thanks to my incredibly talented friend, Heidi! I told her a few weeks ago that I felt like we were meant to meet! For whatever reason (this verse, I think!), God wanted her in my life. And I am so, so grateful for that! She was a part of what got me through this season of my life. And I think it’s so cool that although what she has been through in her own life has been incredibly difficult, she shares her story with others and it helps them get through tough times, too. I’ve learned that along the way, too. Share your story. Don’t be afraid of it. Someone out there needs to know that you’ve been through something similar and that they, too, will make it to the other side. Thanks for listening to this crazy long story. I’m so grateful to be here. To be living life. To be loving on my kids and hubby. Life is so good and I’m so grateful for every bit of it. Even this. Because it all makes me who I am!