I received my liquid biopsy results on Friday. A liquid biopsy is a blood test that detects cancer cells circulating in the blood. Proponents believe it is the future of early cancer detection. The idea is that a simple blood test at your annual check up could tell you if you have cells that could possibly become “cancer”. Others emphasize the test indicates that cancer “may” develop but not necessarily “will” develop. These tests are still in trials, so much is unknown.
In my case, the biopsy indicated that new lung cancer mutations are circulating in my blood. My brain’s response to that news is to start scripting a story. In one version, I call my friend and say “oh no, terrible news, my treatment is not working,” knowing she will reinforce this story by joining in my sadness. In another version, I call my mindfulness coach and say the same thing, knowing she will remind me that I’m feeling great and that at this moment I, in fact, do not have tumor progression—i.e. stay in the present moment and deal with the facts—not speculation about what may or may not happen in the future.
Playing these two scenarios out reminded me of the importance of being mindful of the stories we create and how they influence us. Often, we create our own drama. For example, your spouse is frustrated by something at work and snaps at you. You immediately create a story about them not loving you when, in fact, the underlying cause has nothing to do with you. For myself, the more I am mindful of the stories I create and learn to rewrite them from the others’ perspective, or in this case, distinguish fact and assumption, the more I can write those stories without the drama that creates anxiety and negative feelings. It’s not about changing the reality, it’s about sticking to the reality without the interpretations that make “the story”, about being mindful of the stories and observing how crafty our minds can be in creating them. I’m enjoying a wonderful spring weekend with my family and laughing at how close I came to letting this weekend be ruined by a story, based on assumptions, that I almost created.
Happy Memorial Day! Isabella