Monthly Archives: April 2007

Anonymous Medical Questions

At this time last year, I still hadn’t gone to the doctor. I had, however, discovered something to push me along….

I was examining the new inversion after a shower. After circling it in my mind for some time, like an animal accessing whether or not a new object is safe to approach, I began to look more closely. I was still not really worried, though I was curious. I discovered that if I pushed inward on the breast, the nipple would pop out, just as it had done until a few months ago. I found this odd. Both alarming and comforting at the same time. I began looking at it each day, more more than once a day. Examining it as if suddenly the answer would come to me. And it sort of did. Prodding around, a got more aggressive with it. I felt around to see if I could sense what seemed to be pulling it from behind. And there it was. A big, heavy, hard, something, right behind the nipple.

For a moment, I felt a flash of warmth. The warmth that spreads over you when you realize you are in trouble. Big and immediate. It’s worse than the warmth you feel when you are 12 and have no lie prepared because you thought you’d never get caught, and now your mom is coming to ask for an explanation. It’s the fear-heat of when you discover you’ve done done something very very bad and you didn’t even realize it, until suddenly you were in big trouble. Like not realizing you walked out of the store with a fist full of jewels. Until the police have you in their custody. And then it’s too late to explain. It’s your naivety that got you in so much trouble and now you look guilty. And your mind is rushing to come to grips with just what has happened. It’s like that.

How could something so bad have grown so big under your watch? It must be something else. And just like that, the heat is gone. That would be too silly. It will be fine.
I will spend the rest of the next two weeks, before my dad comes out to Europe to meet me for our annual vacation, sending an anonymous question or two to medical websites. Just to be sure (right?). I will play with the weight of whatever “it” is. It is like a (not so) little ball, a “bouncy ball” perhaps. All dense and perky rubber, tight with energy. So heavy that wants to sink to the bottom if the breast, except that the tissue it is attached to prevents it.

Those medical sites will not alarm me. But they will not give me the answer I am hoping for. The responses are just as vague and unsure as my own thoughts on the matter. “Sounds strange. Go see your doctor.” Bleah. Again, not today. But soon.

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Filed under breast cancer, life, this time LAST year

Turkey is calling

…The country, not the food.

Although I just got started here, I have to take a week off for a much anticipated vacation, relaxing in the sun to celebrate the end of treatment with two dear friends, one of whom just finshed her own (Hodgkin’s) cancer treatment. I’ll be back on the 28th, sure to have been doing something better than I was this week last year!

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It all started when…

This is about the time last year, when I really noticed that something had changed. Well, I had seen that my left breast looked a little different, but I hadn’t noticed, if that makes any sense. I had seen it just after the New Year, if I remember correctly. Although I know that sudden inversion at the age of 29 isn’t normal, somehow the significance had not sunken in. Perhaps the possibility that it was actually cancer seemed so unlikely that I just didn’t let my mind go there. Perhaps I initially ignored it out of fear. I don’t think so. It seems more like, while my brain fluttered in that direction, it never stayed long enough for the thought to develop – the way a butterfly flutters over flowers and is gone before you can clearly see the pattern on its wings.

I was living in Belgium part-time, enjoying the attentions of a new boyfriend. The defining moment came when he happened to mention the breast in passing. Nothing in particular. Just a comment. But suddenly I saw it, as if it required someone else to see it for my mind to register it was real.

I am not so naive as to think the cliche “those things only happen to other people”; I know darn well that they do. As a matter of fact, a part of me always suspected that I would be the one in the family to get breast cancer, on the simple irony that I am the only one who barely has them. (No, unfortunately that’s not me in the photo above!) But I never thought it would be at 29. I thought I had at least another 10 years of enjoying myself as a don’t-take-life-so-seriously, act-10-years-younger-than-you-are 30-something. I suppose you could say that my feeling of youthful invincibility was still largely intact. Ahh, what a great feeling!

But no. About this time, pretty much one year to the day (give or take a few), I decided that I really must ask my doctor about this. Just for good measure, you know. There’s no real hurry, I thought. Surely, on the off shot that it is cancer it would have been found on my mammogram last September. I’m just going to be “smart”.

Hmmm. I’ll go sometime soon. But not today.

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Filed under breast cancer, humor, life, this time LAST year