I have a lump in my left breast.
OMG EVERYONE FREAK OUT NOW.
I got it biopsied in 2016. Against my will. Obgyn said, “I’m not really worried but just go get an ultrasound.” Ultrasound tech said, “I’m not really worried but we’re gonna do a biopsy.” And you know, I wasn’t really that worried about dying but I did all the stuff they asked. I took the time off of work and sat in waiting rooms and slept with an ice pack on my chest and explained everything again to another stranger. Each time a stranger. And I was twenty-seven at the time, white, affluent, no family history of breast cancer on either side and look I’m not saying I’m not dying but if I am it’s probably not of breast cancer but STILL: when I got that phone call and a stranger asked, “Is now a good time to talk?” it took at least a year off of my life just TELL ME IF I HAVE CANCER ALREADY.
So anyway, I was super excited, you know, to go again this year to get my tits checked out. New decade, new city, new obgyn. She said my boobs were lumpy and I said yeah I know they’ve always been lumpy. And I told her about the whole biopsy thing. “Well, will you still go get it checked out? Just for my peace of mind?” She asked. And I figured sure. You know, I’ve met my deductible. It won’t hurt to go. I’ll feel better. We’ll all feel better.
But will we, actually, feel better? Is the Women’s Imaging Center in Cherry Creek really a good time? Let’s find out. I make an appointment. I bring my script which is to my knowledge, for a breast ultrasound. I fill out paperwork, read none of the fine print, sign my name a million times. I am moved to another room where I wait more. Then a woman takes me to the screening room. “Ok we’ll do your mammogram now.”
“I’m sorry what?”
“Your mammogram.” “I thought I was just doing an ultrasound.” “You’re here for both.” “I don’t want to do it can I not do it?”
The woman is quickly getting annoyed with me. She relinquishes me back to the waiting room where, alone again, I silently cry. Soon a different woman appears, finds me crying and tries to comfort me. “I know it’s scary–“
I’m not crying because I’m scared. I’m crying because I’m heartbroken, because I thought one thing was supposed to happen but something different is happening, because I haven’t had any coffee today, because I already got my breasts biopsied five years ago and they said I was fine and I feel like no one is listening to me and you’re all strangers! That, is why I’m upset. (I didn’t say this exactly, you know, it was more in my head.)
Look I don’t want to die. That would suck. And I do lots of things to try to not die all the time: I wear my helmet and my seatbelt and my mask. I get my moles checked and my tits checked. But I get flustered sometimes by this overbearing belief that death is the worst thing that could ever happen. It must be staved off at all costs. Are our lives not more layered and complex than that?
In case you’re wondering I did all my tests and I’m not dying (yet) of (breast) cancer.
Good one, Anne… glad to hear we’ll be hearing from you again.