The Day my Divorce Seemed Like a Teeny Tiny Problem

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author


It probably appears from most of my posts that I have this easy, rosy, perfect life. Not true. Just because most of my blogs are inspirational, hopeful and positive, that doesn’t mean I don’t have problems. Every divorced person has problems. So does every PERSON, even if they are happily married. What I want to share is a very personal experience about a day that that made my divorce seem like a teeny tiny problem.

It was a Thursday and I was, as always, rushing around on work appointments, trying to squeeze everything in before I had to pick up my kids from camp. I had a mammogram appointment scheduled, which I was annoyed by because anything I do personally takes time (and money) away from me, since the way I am paid depends on how much writing I produce.

I had rescheduled the appointment three times already, so I figured, I’ll just knock it out, it only takes about 30 minutes. So, all goes well and I’m out of there in time and everything gets done that day.

Friday morning I receive a message from my doctor. My heart sank. Do I have breast cancer? I called back and they told me that I had to go back to the mammogram place for additional photos, they saw something but it was “inconclusive.”

I scheduled the follow up for Monday, and then tried to go about my work day normally, which was really, really hard to do. It seems like every week I hear about someone I know getting breast cancer. I only know one woman who died of the disease, so the rates of success with treatment are good. That said, I can’t even imagine how difficult the treatment is, going through the pain and losing your hair and not being able to have a normal life for a long time. And, being scared for so long.

I spent the weekend wishing it away. I just wanted it to be Monday, because I wanted to know. There were times I let my mind go to the worst places, imagining myself getting chemotherapy and throwing up, having to tell my children I have cancer. It was horrible.

Monday came around and usually my days go by in a blink, with never enough time. This particular day was going by so slowly it was torturous. My appointment wasn’t until 1:45 and I kept looking at the clock and the dial seriously was not moving. Usually, I am working and I look up and 2 hours has gone by.

With a deep breath, I went to the appointment, where they had to take 5 additional pictures, and smashed my breast down like a pancake, making me wince in pain. I couldn’t have cared less. I just wanted to know.

The doctor came in and said, “You’re totally fine,” and that’s when I felt like I was going to lose it. I tried really hard not to cry, but the relief was overwhelming.

He told me that I have very dense breast tissue, making any masses very difficult to see. He told me I had “complicated breasts,” which doesn’t surprise this complicated girl.

Driving home, I was at a stoplight, where saw a woman strolling her toddler in a park. She was holding a blue balloon and she stopped walking, and handed the balloon to her child. Together, they let it go and I saw her pointing up into the air to show the child how high up and small the balloon kept getting. The toddler, with a huge grin on his face was screaming in excitement.

All I could think of was how wonderful life was. I wondered if I’d gotten a bad test result if I’d have had the same or any enjoyment of seeing what I just saw, or if I’d even have noticed. I’m not sure that up until that moment I had ever felt so grateful in my life for the things I have. I said a prayer and thanked God.

Sure, I have some financial issues, I have a difficult relationship with my ex even after 8 years, I have kids who still have divorce issues, and sometimes I feel like problems keep hitting me like dodge balls. The minute I think everything is great, some new problem arises, and it feels constantly like that. But driving home from the hospital, I felt like I didn’t have a care in the world, because I had my health.

The reason I felt it necessary to share this experience is because I know how going through a divorce can make you feel. I was there. It feels hopeless and you feel sad and depressed and scared and life really seems both out of control and frightening and the future seems bleak at times.

Everyone has heard people say, “If you have your health, you have everything.” It seems trite, but it is very true.

If you are a woman over 40, please get a yearly mammogram. Don’t be too scared or too busy to go. If they do find something, and you have to go through hell in treatment, at least you’ll live. If you don’t go, and they find something later, your chances of dying are much greater.

Here’s a great idea. Every year when you get your mammogram, buy yourself a gift afterwards. It’s an incentive that might even make you look forward to it! It’s like buying a child an ice cream cone after their doctor’s appointment, only your ice-cream cone can be a cute pair of sandals!

In closing, I’m not saying that divorce isn’t a problem, or that if you don’t have breast cancer everything in your divorce and in your life is great. I just want every divorced person to put things in perspective and realize that if you have health, you have the tools to go out and get whatever you want out of life. It’s really as simple as that. You can use your healthy body, mind and spirit to succeed at work, raise your children, do some very special and important things in life, and even fall in love again. Or, you can play the victim, blame your ex for all your problems and wallow in the depression of your divorce. The choice is yours and it’s a really easy choice, isn’t it?

Buy novels by Jackie Pilossoph



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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

3 Responses to “The Day my Divorce Seemed Like a Teeny Tiny Problem”

  1. Marcia Selleck

    A week after my husband left, I had my first mammogram and I too have dense breast tissue so ended up being called back for additional films. My ex’s leaving came as a shock so the possibility of breast cancer put me into a stupor. But the mantra I pulled from this stayed with through out the divorce process …. Where ever I land, I will be fine. Not only will I survive, I will thrive. And I have …. I live in a new city with a great job, my daughter is doing well. Succeeding has become the best revenge.

  2. My Arrival Year

    Hi Jackie,
    I just wanted to say thanks for this. This week my ex is forcing us to go to a parenting consultant because he wants to force our kid into a school I hate. One of my dearest friends just got news of the big B.C. and is taking it really hard (who wouldn’t???!!). My dad had his third knee replacement surgery on the same knee in three weeks and is fighting an infection. I’m STILL not working after a year of “self-employment” and despite 12 years of solid professional experience, so I’m applying for part time sales associate jobs at the outlet mall so that I can feed my kid and pay my rent. Divorce ripped me apart, but the rest of life goes on and a lot of it is hard too. The world seems to have lost its soul this week, and I can’t take the positivity dogma. We can be sad and hurting and crushed and honor that experience with solemnity and still choose to go on and keep trying to hope for a brighter day. If one more person says “everything’s going to be just fine” or “all is as it should be” or the WORST “God has a plan for you” I’m going to blow my top. So thank you for the real.

    Maybe we can all just collectively say “OW!!!!!” have some massive group hugs, share some cool water and then heave our loads up on our backs once more and take another step forward and love each other.


  3. Marie

    Thanks for all the good posts. However, I must tell you my story. I am 49 and was diagnosed with breast cancer 6/6/2012. I found the lumpy area myself after 5 mammograms told me I was fine. I had dense breasts and the radiology dr never mentioned how inaccurate mammograms can be. According to a radiology journal article, mammograms can miss breast cancer between 30 to 70% of the time. I wish I had never trusted the fools who call themselves doctors. Instead I wish I had known about thermograms. I am impoverished, they wreaked my health, I am horribly disfigured and have had 8 painful and unsuccessful reconstruction surgeries. I tried to use my own tissue, and it didn’t work so now I have to hope an implant will work. My husband and I are on the edge of divorce nearly every month or so. If we weren’t so broke i am pretty sure we would have split up by now.

    Take home message :get a Thermogram, mammograms notoriously inaccurate and unreliable.


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