Yesterday, I finally had my first mammogram. A mammogram that I had been putting off for over a year.
“Have you had your mammogram?” Jill Wood, a parent of a hard of hearing son, asked me during an IM conversation a year ago. Jill had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and was about to begin chemotherapy.
“I haven’t had one yet, but I will,” I typed back. The doctor had given me the RX for a mammogram earlier that year, but I couldn’t find the paper. I just put the procedure on the back burner.
When I received the RX again this year, I told myself that I really needed to follow through with it. So there I was yesterday, dressed in a gown and about to haul my boobs over a plastic plate to be squished.
“Just a minute,” the technician said. “I need to get the larger plate.” She replaced the regular-sized plastic plate with the larger plate.
I rolled my eyes and quickly, my thoughts went to Jill.
I gotta tell her about this, I said to myself. She would crack up at the thought of hauling out a larger plate for my anatomy.
My thoughts soon turned dark as I noticed a spot on one of the digital images that came up on the screen.
“Should I be worried?” I asked the technician.
“No, you have to wait for the doctor to review the images and they’ll call you within a week.”
I was driving home yesterday and thinking, “I gotta call Jill and talk to her.”
That night, I received a message from Barbara, another parent who knew Jill:
Hi Karen – I know you don’t read Listen-up every day but thought you would want to know that Jill Wood passed away on Friday, Dec. 26. I knew she’d taken a turn for the worse a couple of months ago but didn’t realize the extent. I’m very, very sad.
I sat there stunned. And I cried. I called Barbara for the first time and we talked. I emailed Helen, Jill’s friend and learned that Jill was doing well five days before and then took a rapid turn for the worse. The world lost a great woman, a great mom. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way because on the parent listserv where we met, many other parents felt the same way. You see, Jill was an incredible mom who greeted parent after parent on the list, sharing her thoughts, her feelings and all the things she learned throughout the years of parenting a son with progressive hearing loss. Her son sent my oldest son some Weird Al music and got him hooked on Weird Al videos as a result. So I bought a Weird Al video for Christmas last year for my oldest son and the kids just cracked up watching it.
Jill wrote with wit and wisdom and her personality shone through with every post she shared. I’m not kidding. Ask any parent on the listserv and you’ll see that this gal stood out and many learned from her.
Jill was a freelance illustrator who drew book covers. She shared some of her designs with me and I was blown away by her talent. Last October, when she first began chemotherapy, she and I wrote back and forth. She joked about doing reconstructive surgery and getting a set of perky boobs that would be the envy of everyone in the nursing home when she turned 90.
Yes, that was Jill, ever the optimist with a wisecrack. In one of her emails, she said she was off to get her “poison cocktails” and said that she was going to make her doctors insert a fancy drink umbrella on it. “At least I’ll get to catch up on some much needed sleep,” she joked about the side effects. I was about to leave for a cruise at that time, so I emailed back and said that I would have a Pina Colada in her honor, complete with an umbrella and send her a picture.
“Here’s the picture, as promised,” I wrote to her when we arrived back. I was in a swimsuit, holding a pina colada with an umbrella perched in it. “I wouldn’t send just anyone a picture of me in a swimsuit,” I joked. “Only for you, girl.”
So as I wait for result from the mammogram, I’m going to celebrate Jill’s life and dig out the Weird Al video for our trip up to Michigan. Here’s to you, Jill.
Donations in Jill’s name can be made to:
After two mammograms and an ultrasound, the doc sent me home saying that all is fine.