I have breast cancer.
Trust me, I didn’t see that one coming. There is no history of it in our family, I am healthy otherwise, I get screening mammograms every two years and everything is always good, including the results of the one I got in December.
Then I found a lump, the tiniest of bumps, really. I wouldn’t have noticed it at all except it was a wee bit tender. I wondered if I had perhaps just bruised myself. The kids and grandkids were visiting at the time and it was easy to mentally contrive the scenario where a toddler head thrown back in laughter or an errant arm swing was the source of that tender spot with a knot in it. Still, it bothered me enough to show Gordy who said all the right things about how it is probably nothing but to go have it checked just same, because that’s always best.
I apologized to my Ob/Gyn as I lay on the exam table fumbling to find my lump again…evidence enough right there that it was, in fact, the nothing these things usually turn out to be. She scowled her face in concentration as she palpated the area. Maybe something? Just to be safe (and because you said “lump”), we’ll get another mammogram — 3D this time and an ultrasound.
Well, that worked. They found “my” lump and three other baby lumps, all in a row, and that got everyone’s attention, enough to consult a surgeon and undergo a needle biopsy of the little buggers and, wouldn’t you know it, they are not the innocent nothings they were supposed to be: they’re malignant.
First, there is surgery. Tomorrow I will have a mastectomy of my right breast and removal of lymph nodes, if they have been invaded, which I deeply hope is not the case. Some things are known — that the lumps are highly estrogen receptive (that’s a good thing) and well localized — but the surgery and its pathology results will teach us more about what is in store for us. Words like chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction, Tamoxifen are flitting around, but none will settle until those results are known.
I have spent these brief days since the diagnosis feeling healthy and alive in the body given to me, grieving for the changes to be endured, and hugging dogs and horses and donkeys as if my life depended on it. Oh wait, it probably does. Gordy is being Gordy which means he is being my rock, my partner, my deepest and greatest love and friend. I have receive much love from family and friends which is both overwhelming and calming at the same time. I respect my surgeon greatly for his skillful knowledge and sensitive demeanor in appreciating that a breast is a tragically sad thing for a woman to lose. I am in good hands.
I want to live beyond this scary bump in the road. I want to meet it, engage with it, work with it in full awareness that I am and always will be bigger than, more than it. More than cancer. It takes the air right out of your body hearing such things, but saying it back out into the Universe is helping me take my power back, one word at a time, one breath at a time. Every speaking of it, announcing it to the world, if you will, knits it a bit more into my reality, makes it a bit less planet of the zombies, less other-worldly. So much is out of my hands right now, but I am hopeful. I would truly be most grateful for whatever good will and hopeful, positive energy you might throw my way. Thanks for listening.