And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
There’s a party going on in my bra. The women are BACK! (Just so you know, I have never referred to my breasts as “the girls”. That feels patronizing, disrespectful, and frankly, a little bit pedophiliac to do so.)
The right breast is a little more battle-scarred. A year after diagnosis, biopsies, surgery and radiation, she bears a patch of discolored skin, she’s swollen and strangely shaped, and she’s numb. The other one, biopsied just once, feels a little bit guilty that she escaped with less trauma, but she’s also got her own scar and she carries a little clip for future reference and future mammograms.
But they’re both okay. They’re fine.
I had my year-later mammogram today. 3-D, bilateral, just ever so many ways to squash me, squeeze me, lean me, bend me, twist me, turn me, you name it. And then there was the wait for the results. Still robed, still near the mammogram machine, and with the full knowledge that the ultrasound machine, which would be the next step if things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, was right down the hall. There was no piped-in music for me to hum to, and the book I’d brought along to keep me busy was left accidentally behind in my locker. There were magazines and I know I paged through one while I waited, but I couldn’t tell you what I read. Mostly I turned pages, but stared at the clock, thinking, Isn’t this taking too long? This is too long. Something’s wrong.
But then the technician came back and cheered, “It’s all good!”
I held it together until I got to the dressing room. Then I cried.
What does this all mean? I don’t need a mammogram again for a year. I’m back on a regular schedule. I do have to see the medical oncologist every four months for now, and have bloodwork to show continued cancer-freeness. I need to continue to take the estrogen-squashing med that keeps this estrogen-feeding cancer away.
It means I’m okay.
After I pulled myself together, I got dressed and headed to the elevator. When I got to the first floor, the doors opened, and there was a man, about my age, facing the elevator and in the middle of sweeping his arms open in a grand game-show hostess-type gesture. He immediately looked embarrassed.
“I’m sorry!” he said. “I was pretending to use magic to open the elevator doors, and then they opened! And there you were!”
I smiled at him. “Well, thank you,” I said. “It worked. I was on the second floor and now I’m on the first.”
Everyone in this part of the building is dealing with cancer in one form or another. In all of its forms. Internally. Externally.
Everyone in this part of the building wants a little magic. They want to perform it. They want to receive it.
“In fact,” I said, “I just found out that the breast cancer I had last summer is gone. Poof! Disappeared. If your magic had anything to do with that, I am so grateful.”
And he lit up. He WHOOPED. And his arms swept open again and I stepped into them and received one of the best hugs of my life.
“Congratulations,” he said when he stepped back.
“Thank you.” I held onto his elbows. “Are you okay?”
His face went soft. He drooped, his chin tucking to his chest, his whole body just somehow sloping downward. But then he pushed his shoulders back and he looked me straight in the eye. “I will be,” he said.
It was my turn to give him a hug. I hope it was one of the best he ever received.
“Magic,” I said.
He nodded. “Poof!”
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.