The “C” Word

Cancer.

That word has been looming in my frontal lobe for two weeks now. Like Winnie-the-Pooh’s little black rain cloud, it has hovered over me, causing me to behave irrationally, snap at people, become irritated at the slightest “tone of voice,” and be easily distractible—my work has lain in piles, untouched, ignored.

About a month or so ago, I started having severe pain in my right breast. Pain so bad that I couldn’t sleep at night. Wearing a bra was uncomfortable at best, yet without it, I had to walk around cradling it in my hand. Over Labor Day weekend it became unbearable and the I was forced to admit that I needed to see my doctor first thing Tuesday morning. She found a lump. Small, but there. I tried to take the news stoically. Be brave. It’s probably nothing. She got me this first available mammogram and ultrasound. First available meant this morning…almost two weeks later. Two weeks to deal my worst fear, second only to losing a loved one.

My stress has been palpable. Almost a physical presence. I thought about death and leaving my child alone in the world. I thought about chemo as a single mother with no real support in the area. I thought about life without my right breast. I thought about sex.

I have three physical features about myself that I like. My eyes, my lips, and my breasts. At almost 45 years of age, they are still firm, still ride fairly high, are not too big or too small, and create great cleavage with a good bra. I seem to choose lovers who love my breasts. Of course, everyone may be that obsessed with tits in general. In high school, one of the boys I dated came in his khakis just from touching them. But that was then. Now, they get kissed, caressed, lightly bitten, sometimes bitten hard, nibbled at, licked, and pinched. They love a good, hard cock between them just as much as a nestled head. They adore a face buried between them, drinking in the scent fresh from a shower or misted with Chanel no. 5.

So, this morning, I get up early and wish for my mother…or my best friend, both of whom live far, far away. The miles stretched before me as I drove myself, alone, to have my tests done. I thought about cancer. I tried to be upbeat. The “C” word became an unwelcome mantra in my head. I disrobed and donned the soft, worn white garment tied in the front. The radiologist called me in immediately. Ahead of the other women in the inner sanctum. I faced the mammogram machine head on. I dealt with the pain. I reflected on the fact that I had been negligent in keeping up with my yearly appointments. I had not had a mammogram in five years. Perhaps it was too late.

I was returned to the waiting room, but seconds later they collected me for my ultrasound. The technician was silent as her wand glided across my gelled breast. I tried to watch the images on the screen. My last ultrasound had shown a child within me. A life. Would this reveal a death? I was told that diagnostic patients always received their results immediately. There would be no dreaded wait period. The technician left me on the table with my arm over my head. The doctor returned a short while later and I held my breath.

I left the room and silently dressed. I walked through the crowded outer waiting room without meeting anyone’s eyes. I walked through bright sunshine to my car. I called my parents. Then I called my best friend. And a torrent of tears let loose for the first time since that pain had announced itself, carrying with it all of my nightmares and worries and concerns.

I recently took one of those ridiculous applications on Facebook called Death Day. The idea was that if you input your birth year then you would be returned your year of death along with the manner in which you die. Mine said that I would swallow a toothpick and die of peritonitis at the age of 99. That silly app could be right…

My tests were negative.

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5 Comments

  1. Phew. Damn. I held my breath through that entire post.

  2. Glad to hear the tests came up negative…

  3. Baby, my work is completely mobile so if you needed chemo, my ass would be in my truck and on my way to your house immediately. Peggy Sue and I could be there in no time. You never have to worry that you’ll be alone (for long) if you had something like that happen. I’d stay as long as you needed me to stay and I’m a great nurse. I’d clean your puke, shave my head in solidarity, clean your house, whip your son around and generally take care of stuff.

    But I am so incredibly grateful that you don’t need me for that reason. Because I’m so grateful that you’re healthy.

  4. I am so glad you got good news! With as many people close to me who have been diagnosed in the last several years, what you described has been my worst nightmare. Glad yours was not real.
    ~Emmy

  5. Honey, I’ve been there too. A lump was found during a routine mammo several years back and they had me come back in for a needle biopsy.. I remember being tense waiting for the biopsy and even more waiting for the results, which were also negative.. it’s amazing how you don’t know you’ve been holding your breath until you exhale in relief.

    glad we’re gonna have you around for another 54 years or so 😀


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