My “family doctor” called me the other day and said that certain parties from the US had contacted her for my medical records (for some bureaucratic stuff). Regardless of who it was, she is not allowed to release them to anyone. Therefore, she made a copy of all my records and arranged for me to pick them up to mail them out myself.
It was a manila envelope with about 50 pages in it. Although of course I know what’s in there in general, I was indeed curious. The files are in the from of letters to my GP from my various specialists, giving her the latest details on my treatment and progress. All the files are in Dutch, and complicated medical terms are certainly not one of my strong suits in the language, but it didn’t stop me from browsing.
I found it weird to read the files. As if they could have been talking about someone else. But they weren’t. I was particularly struck by the first letter. It was the letter written from the mammographist to my GP from my original examination in ’05. And just as I had always suspected, there is was in black and white: “Patient has some calcifications in the left breast. These appear not to be malignant, but the patient is to be examined again in 6 months for monitoring this.” You will remember that I found my own lump, 8 months later, having never had a word mentioned about these spots or another mammo. You all know that part, but there was something about seeing it in black and white that made me a little angry. And mesmerized – I read through the rest of the pages standing in the middle of the room. Del kept suggesting that I have a seat, but I stood there on the spot, absorbed in the story they presented as if the last page would tell the ultimate end of the (my) story.
I don’t have a tidy conclusion for the sharing of these feelings. It was just…strange. Personal enough to make my heart thud, and impersonally distant at the same time. Strange to see that I’ve done all that. Difficult to imagine all the women that are having those very things written about them today as they go through it. Eager to imagine them also being finished, seeing it only over their shoulder.
I have something fun to tell you later this week, but I might not have time to put together a decent post for a few days. For now, before I go, you might be interested in an article I read today, about a (seeming) cancer breakthrough. “Scientists discover how our bodies can keep cancer dormant for years” is pretty exciting stuff.