This time last year, it is my last week of innocence. As I mentioned before, I am newly 30. I have a new boyfriend that I have known for just over 2 months. I have just finished grad school and moved from the small Belgian college town to Brussels, staying in Europe out of sheer stubbornness (as I don’t want to leave). I am living the life of a young expat: learning to drink beer with my meals, busy meeting peers from all over the world, exploring nearby countries, traveling to the US for work 50% of the time.
My dad has arrived for our annual trip, this year to Croatia. He gets here a few days early and I give him my bed. As I travel so much I share an apartment with two French-speaking boys – one French, one Belgian. It’s ok, but I am tired of living with people that I feel I am constantly cleaning up after when I am hardly ever there. These are my concerns of the day. I plan to buy an apartment soon. For now though, dad has the bed and I use the blow-up mattress that the new boyfriend has kindly lent me. It is on that mattress where I will have my one and only dream that the mysterious lump is in fact cancer. I don’t remember much about the dream, except the final moments where I get a mammogram, and the tumor glows very brightly white from the film. It glows brighter and brighter until I wake up. It is the first moment I realize that a part of me is scared. I reason that that kind of fear is merely healthy, and may save my life one day (when I probably have BC for real).
What I haven’t told you yet is that I’ve already had a mammogram. This is a large reason why I refuse to really think it’s cancer….About 8 months ago, I had had an annoying little pain around the left breast for about 6 months at that point. A doctor friend had assured me it was nothing, and I had also asked this (my regular) doctor. She assured me it was just little muscular strains. I’ll be honest, my gut wasn’t sure about that, but I’d asked two docs. What more could I do? Both doctors said there was no way it was something like cancer. While I mostly believed them, it did spur me to get the mammogram. With family history, it was a good idea to get a “baseline” mammo anyway. I was told that “no news was good news” and of course, I never heard anything back from that examination.
After returning from Croatia we plan to go to Strasbourg for a weekend. When we get back however, I will send dad on alone and finally tell him very casually that I have a lump I want to get checked out.
We both agree that it’s nothing, but with a family history, I better be smart. “Don’t mess with that stuff”, he says, happy to give me time alone for an appointment. He goes to France and I go to the doctor, eager to get my clean bill of health.