Picture of the month

Picture of the month
Life is circular

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mary Anne (life journey #1)

In 2004 I started a history project by documenting the lives of women from the African diaspora. I began interviewing people from every walk of life, social position, age group,
sexuality and nationality to tell me about themselves.To this day it has been one of the best
gifts I have given myself. I have been enriched and restored just knowing that as black women we are resilient and holding our own in societies that challenge our existence everyday. I have chosen to continue sharing conversations with my sisters and those that care about us in this space so that more of you can read what I have be told.
Today I am truly honored to bring you Mary Anne Adams the first of hopefully many life journeys posters. Though I have never talked to this woman in person I have been touched by her openness and honesty. So I'm letting her introduce herself followed by a letter she wrote about an experience she had.

My name is Mary Anne, I moved to Atlanta in 1988 on my birthday. I'm from Oxford, Mississippi where I was born and raised. I currently live in Decatur which is 5 mins from Atlanta.My passion is reading almost anything, particularly books by Buddhist NunPema Chodron and here are three of my favorite quotes by her.
"The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new."
" We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves."
"We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people who are closest tous and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates or our society. It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better.Blame others.Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.*In the Gap Between Right and Wrong*."
Another equal passion is Community organizing which restores my faith in humanity and allows me to witness the resiliency and grace of humankind. I've been involved here in Atlanta on various projects and served on a number of boards. Although, I have a Master of Social Work, I work in research, I'm a Project Director.I also started my own business, about a year ago and I'm very seriously thinking about working my business full-time in 2007. I can just taste the growth and I'm so excited about the possibilities.I've been in a relationship for almost 3 years and my partner has a 14 year old daughter.The most daring thing I've done in a while was to go skydiving a couple of years ago when I turned 50. Once I did that, I felt there was nothing I couldn't do ;-). Talk about stepping out on faith. I really want sisters to share information about the aging process (both giving and receiving). I have a lot of questions
though not many answers and certainly resolve to make the time to share.


If you've put off getting a mammogram for any reason, please take a moment to reconsider.

This is my story:

I had a mammogram in late May at Piedmont Hospital where I had not been screened before. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter requesting comparison film from Crawford Long Hospital where I had gotten many routine breast screenings. I put the letter aside because I was too busy- I then received a second letter and muttered to myself that I would get to it.

A few weeks later the postal carrier left a certified letter in my box from Piedmont Hospital and albeit, that got my attention, I never went to the postal office to pick up the letter. In my defense, I'm usually not so trifling but I assumed that because I had never been there before, and my breasts are fibrocystic that they really wanted my film for comparison. The hospital then sent me a second certified letter and called my doctor's office to report my non- compliance. After the doctor's office called- I was like damn-ok..I'll get the film.

I called and ordered the film and a couple of weeks later, Piedmont called and scheduled a follow-up mammogram. I kept the appointment on Sept 14, not daring to be a moment late. The technician kept going in and out of the room to consult with the radiologist. They then informed me that they wanted me to come back the next day at 2 pm for a biopsy on both breasts.

Lisa ( my partner) and I arrived at 2 pm on schedule and I brought my i-Pod because the procedure and process was all so new to us. I needed some soothing music.The hospital wouldn't let Lisa stay in the room which on second thought was a good idea. They allowed me to listen to my i-Pod and worked around my earplugs. So, thank you to Liz Wright for being my angel.

The experience was pretty surreal and I couldn't believe that I was lying on the table. No pun intended but I had always been worried about the bottom and not the top. My mother died of ovarian cancer at 43 and my four younger sisters and I have always kept a watchful eye. We didn't know about any breast anything in my family except they were heavy ;-)

I was told to call my doctor on Wed after 3 pm for the results. When the nurse called around 9 am on Wed morning to check on me and asked if I had called my doctor's office, I knew something was up. As soon as I hung up the phone, Maria from my doctor's office called and said that she wanted to see me at 3 pm. At that point , I really knew the news was dire but I remained very calm, finished dressing and went to work.

So, on Sept 20th at 3 pm, five days before my birthday, Dr. Thacker informed me that the path report showed ductal carcinoma in situ in the left breast. She also told me that she had already made me an appointment with a breast surgeon for that upcoming Friday at 2 pm. Couple of things about my doctor, I've been seeing her for 10 years, she's brilliant, a lesbian and has had a mastectomy...well, I guess that's four things.

I shed a few tears, made a few jokes and left her office to finish working on ZAMI's scholarship weekend activities which were ten days away. During that time, I went to my job, worked on the scholarship event and saw three doctors. I also had genetic testing last week because I've since discovered there is plenty of breast cancer in my extended family as well as other cancers, I have four sisters and five brothers and I have excellent insurance which paid for it.

I didn't have a lump or mass and the mammogram definitely caught this and it's stage 0. The surgery was scheduled for Thursday, Nov 9. I felt really good physically, emotionally and spiritually. I never worried about it because I don't move in the world as a worrier and I know in my bone marrow that i will soon be cancer free.

I wanted to share my story if it will help someone. This is the first time that I've taken the opportunity to write this all down in this way...thanks for allowing me a safe space.

Sweet Blessings,
Mary Anne
Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:05 am

On Sunday, Nov 5th, Mary Anne and friends joined together in a healing circle at the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative to inspire each other and to laugh. She didn't want any somber, formal circle because that's wasn't how she felt. She asked others to please light a candle between 3-4:30 pm for herself and all of the folks who are battling breast cancer. Stating "I have put out in the universe that I will not have to endure radiation or chemo. Please visualize wellness for me."
I'm happy to report she came though her surgery and did not need chemotherapy.

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