We have great weather in Los Angeles; just ask anyone who lives here! But even so there are ongoing debates among residents about which area in the LA Basin is hotter, which is cooler. Those who live here, even those who haven’t for very long, know what those conversations sound like: “It’s always cooler at the beach.”  “The valleys are more humid.” “The west side isn’t as warm as the east side.” “As soon as you drive over the pass, the temperature jumps up 10 degrees.”

Comparing one area to another seems to provide an odd comfort. I know it can get hot where I live, but I also know there are places that are worse. It’s an interesting coping mechanism. Of course, the same strategy applies in other areas of our lives. And often in interesting ways.

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The phone call came out of the blue. Julia and I hardly knew each other. A few years ago we were part of a group from our hospital who attended the annual Magnet conference. We’d had a few conversations, but I didn’t really know her. In fact it took me a moment to figure out who it was.

“It’s Julia,” she blurted out. Then without a pause: “I had a mammogram and now they’re saying I need to have an ultrasound and probably a biopsy of my breast.” Her voice caught but then she quickly added, “They’re telling me I need to do it right away. What do you think?”