I’m a big believer in the idea that, for a large part, people make their own drama. If you act like something is a big deal, it becomes one. At the very least, freaking out only makes things worse. I try to not act on circumstantial evidence. So at this point in the story, I still had not told my family. No need to alarm them until I know the level of alarm to raise.
I did however go straight back to my doctor the next day. When I entered her office and sat down, I felt the weight of seriousness in the air, even though she was relaxed and reassuring to the eye. She seemed a little surprised to see me but said, “I’m glad you came in…calling you is at the top of my priority list today. But it’s better to talk in person anyway.”
Hmmm. I felt the breaking of news coming. “Well, it is still possibly nothing, but i does have some characteristics that make them think it could be cancer.” I took note of the casual wording to use with my family later. “Now I think it’s not necessary to panic at this point,” which is good because I had no intention of panicking, “but we do need to look further.”
She called and made an appointment for me with the local university’s hospital, that just happens to be one of the foremost breast cancer centers in Europe. She explained that there were two main doctors, a male and a female. She called for me so that I could get squeezed into the man’s tighter schedule. “He’s nicer,” she explained, and I had not automatically pictured myself with a male doctor, I was all for nice.
At this point I told the family. Even though I remained casual and non-alarmist, one sister cried as I feared she would. However, for once her panic did not stoke my own. I felt some sort of mission to remain calm and optimistic. I definitely felt a responsibility not to scare them, and as long as I seemed fine, they might be fine.
Now, don’t forget that part of me had always suspected that I would get breast cancer. So in the week that I had to wait for my appointment, I still felt little to no panic. I feel that a life pattern of mine is that I always land on my feet. While I may get disappointed sometimes, when that happens things usually work even better than initially planned in the end. So I had faith that pattern. Even though I knew that I am not untouchable, it would turn out in some good way.
I remembered the statistic that 80% of all biopsies come back negative. I had a hunch it would be positive, but evidence was still circumstantial. Besides, if it was positive, surely it would be easily operable, right? I’d have a lumpectomy, maybe some radiation and bim-bam it’d be all done. The up side I would see in that? That going through a less serious case now might save me from a more serious cancer later, via the careful monitoring it would precipitate. Maybe this was the way it was supposed to be. Maybe it could even be seen as an excuse to get a boob job (something I am generally too proud to do). Basically, the only thing I was scared of was chemo, and I just couldn’t see that happening to me. Some friends accused me of hiding the fact that I was upset, when in fact, I really felt as calm as I appeared. Of course I was concerned, but my feeling of youthful invincibility was ultimately still intact.
In keeping with my, “everyone remain calm and move slowly” MO, I tried to insist that I didn’t need anyone to come to my biopsy appointment with me. I am quite accustomed to handling things on my own and I didn’t see the need for this to be any different. I refused to let my boyfriend take a day off of work. (That felt like making a “Big deal”.) Luckily, my sisters went behind my back in private and begged him not to listen to me because then…
(continued tomorrow, which will put us back on the “exactly one year to the day” schedule.)