My radiologist glanced up at me with a look of mild irritation. It reminded me of the look my kids would wear when I dragged them away from a TV show or some other electronic distraction. This can’t possibly be that important, her eyes suggested. I had pulled her from inspecting something deep in the far reaches of her computer screen.
Ninety seconds earlier she had given me good news. “You don’t even need to sit down,” she tossed at me with a polite smile when I appeared in her office doorway after having changed from my Pepto Bismol pink mammogram uniform. “That spot we’ve been watching for the last year is totally gone. You’re good to go. We’ll see you in a year.”
Her eyes were on mine, but her fingers perched deftly on her keyboard, ready to strike again as soon as I left her office. The relief I felt was so overwhelming that for a moment I just stood there cemented to the carpet finding my breath. It didn’t begin to bother me just yet that she wasn’t interested in finding out why my breast tissue had miraculously and entirely improved. I was simply consumed with releasing fear.
Her eye contact lasted for a thoughtful 5 seconds while I digested her words. I thanked her, began to breath and her eyes moved back to her computer screen, fingers plucking on the dark gray plastic keys.
She must have been assigned an ungodly number of charts to read that day. My lingering presence in her doorway was definitely eating into her lunch, or her ability to get home at a reasonable time to her family. Out of respect for her packed schedule, I turned to leave. And right about then my re-oxygenated brain turned me back around.
This was the moment when she looked up at me with mild annoyance. I was going to take up a little more time and ask my bubbling question.
“Aren’t you curious what I’ve been doing differently for the last six months that may have impacted my breast tissue?” She pulled her gaze away from her work and trained her eyes back on me. She was going to entertain my further interruption, but not for long. Her fingers remained steadfastly perched. She had to fill that quota.
“Oh, you stopped drinking caffeine?” she straightened a bit in her seat. Her posture punctuated her confidence that caffeine could be the only possible culprit. I wondered if that was what they taught students in medical school about the spontaneous healing of breast tissue.
A pithy chuckle escaped my throat. It was no doubt propelled by my annoyance with the fact that medical students aren’t informed about the strategies for, nor the benefits of proper nutrition and stress reduction techniques.
My response reflected my irritation. “I haven’t heard anyone suggest caffeine since I was in college. No, I haven’t stopped drinking caffeine. Have you ever heard of Ayurveda?” Thankfully, the annoyance in my voice appeared to be lost on her.
“Isn’t that where you don’t eat nitrates? I could never give up peppers.” Hers was a swift dismissal of something she perceived to be an old wives tale that combined little value with a lot of personal sacrifice. Cue my exasperated exhale.
“Ayurveda is actually an ancient form of lifestyle practices that help bring the body and mind back into balance. Ayurveda does include diet recommendations, but they are individualized based on body type and particular imbalances, not by nitrates. But, no, I didn’t alter my eating. I actually just started doing yoga and breath work, which are key components of Ayurveda.”
There was a beat and my radiologist’s eyes rested on mine. She heard words she could relate to. Her hands moved to her lap and her posture eased for the first time in our brief exchange. “I’ve started doing yoga with my 4-year-old. It’s hard to keep her focused during class, so I’m actually getting more out of it than she is.”
We found common ground and a heart connection opened between us. The departure from a ping-pong battle of the brains and the perfunctory exchange of data became a shift toward warmth. I chose to exhale judgment and release my own fixed mindset opinions about her and her intentions. This felt better.
For five lovely minutes we discussed how my non-profit, Tournesol Kids, might be helpful to her as a mom. I told her that breathing and yoga calmed my tendency to react in panic when hearing frustrating news. I even offered to send her my protocol for yoga poses and breathing exercises in case they might help other women in her practice and she gladly accepted the offer.
We exchanged business cards and smiles and I was on my way back to Tournesol.
During this time of gratitude and thankfulness, I recognize my teachers in this experience. There are many.
If I hadn’t known how holistic measures impact health, I would have left upon hearing that I was good to go.
If I hadn’t learned about fixed mindset, I would’ve judged the radiologist for assuming Ayurveda was about nitrates.
If I didn’t know that my adaptive style was the Fire Archetype, I wouldn’t have realized that the breath would be the key to my calm.
If I didn’t have my true teachers, my friends, colleagues, clients, kids, parents, siblings, exes and even strangers in my life – I would have no mirror in which to observe myself and know how to grow.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my body’s ability to heal, my mind’s ability to expand and the world for always presenting me with brilliant teachers in all forms.