My personal breast cancer journey.
From the time I was shown the dark spot on my X-ray, my life was driven by a disease with a mind of its own. The picture of my right breast reminded me of the first images of the surface of the moon during Apollo 13’s mission. My heart started thumping out of my chest at the words “mass” and “biopsy.” I felt a pit in my stomach clenched as if blocking out the words. This was supposed to be happening to someone else, anyone else but me! If I were a doctor, I would call my journey classic. Each leg of this road trip would have its own drama. The road was paved by millions of women before me.
“I am sorry, I don’t mean to hurt you,” I heard repeatedly during the agonizing needle biopsy. Words did not stop the piercing shock waves of pain. Imagine a thousand pins being shot at once directed to one location on the most tender part of your body. Multiply that by a thousand. That is how it felt.
“We’ll call you within forty-eight hours.”
It was closer to seven hours when I got the call to come in the following morning and bring someone with me.
In his office, I felt as small as a fly waiting for him to look up from my file.
"You have cancer."
"I know," I replied. I knew it when I was directed to stay behind in the waiting room after the initial mammogram.
He said it was a small tumor. He referred me to a surgeon whose office was downtown. Driving downtown always confused me due to the one-way streets. The surgeon nodded when I chose to have a mastectomy.
“Good choice,” he replied as if I had just made a meal selection at a restaurant.
As time went on, my heart thumping and fear were replaced with resolve and optimism. The surgery itself was uneventful. It was hard to look at the incisions the first week. Once healed, it looked like I had drawn a smile on my chest. I was lucky. I had a good job, great medical benefits, people who cared about me, and one breast.
Epilogue: I was not prepared when six months later I was once again in a radiologist’s office looking at a dark spot on my other breast. Same scene, the same road trip, and the same outcome. I was lucky. I had a good job, great medical benefits, people who cared about me, and no breasts.
Submitted to Breast Care Awareness Contest
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