Early this year at my yearly physical my physician told me something I never expected to hear. She felt 2 lumps during the b.r.e.a.s.t exam. Of course me, ever the cool cat, lay there processing the information casually as if she was talking about the weather. For reality sakes, she even made me feel it. They are the size of a pea, she pointed out. How appropriate that women break everything down to the cuisine, I grinned and she laughed back. Not until I got dressed and sat across the table did the gravity of it sink in.
After hearing some statistics and probabilities, it came down to what I had to do about it. Medically. She asked me to monitor it and come back within a month. I left in a daze. Denial rocks. I informed the husband as a btw piece of conversation while cooking dinner. Did I mention he’s a cooler cat than I am? After a hmm.. and okay and silence, we addressed the issue late in the night. We took the doc’s advise and decided there really was no point fretting or thinking about it until next month when by freak luck the lumps could disappear or grow and either case shall be handled as deemed. Then.
The next 30 days were spent normally. If checking various websites and forums at least once every few days, reading up on all things lump-related, mammogram, ultrasounds is normal. Then there was the issue on the worse-case scenario. The baby was not 3 yet, the daughter was just becoming a teen and I had a son teetering on youth and still the child in most regards. It seemed uncanny that perhaps by sheer destiny, history would repeat itself. My maternal aunt was diagnosed with cancer of the intestines at exactly my age and with her children roughly the same ages as mine. She passed away wasted after 10 months of suffering and agony. I clearly remember her last day. I was 10. Her baby then is now a handsome successful IIT-alumni and is making his own destiny on the west coast.
It didn’t seem to make any sense letting anyone else know, and so didn’t.
Month later, I was back in the same room on the same table. Nothing had changed. Get the mammogram and the ultrasound done asap within the week I was told grimly. I came home and made the appointment. The earliest was in the middle of the day 4 days later.
On the day, after the kids were in school and the baby at the sitter’s, husband at work, I drove down to the place. It was like going for a spa treatment. Same pleasant atmosphere, with women of all sizes, shapes, colors each hiding behind a magazine. Women behind the counter in white, laughing, and going about business – assistants nicely manicured and coiffed escorted each to a smaller sized cubby with fresh smelling robes and fluffy white slippers. Such guile I thought to myself scanning a Cosmopolitan, as a red haired lady sat across me chatting nineteen to the dozen on the deals she made on Zappos. A plastic surgery magazine lay on her lap and was showing off before and after pictures of women enhanced.
If only one had any left once we leave the place I thought morbidly.
Going through a mammogram is like getting caught between 2 cold hard metal pieces squeezing the living daylights out of you with no escape in sight. It’s a slow torture. You get clamped up slowly and as u let out small howls and ouches, the assistant would only mutter ‘I know sweetheart, just a little bit more” and then more pressure. As you think you are going to pass out, she eyes her artwork suspiciously from all angles, runs behind a partition, checks on the monitor, and God forbid she can’t see the mass, we repeat all over again. And so I was repeated. Twice. And then there are angular views that one must submit to because of the shape of the offending organ. So 2 times 2 and it seemed like eternity before I was allowed to escape the dark room.
Fighting back tears I swore, I wouldn’t let drop, I was put back in the spa room again to wait for the next test. Ultrasound. This I’ve gone through enough times – it’s messy and cold, but doesn’t hurt or pinch or pull. I can handle it. Or so I thought.
The old doctor was neither considerate, smooth, nor gentle. He flattened, plucked, and shifted the wand in various angles and pressures, and just as I could take it no more and screamed, he said “But I don’t see anything.” As if to believe his own touch than the machine’s image, he prodded me around and again declared with almost a hint of resignation “no, I don’t feel anything. Maybe they melted away.”With a shrug, he left the room saying they’d communicate with my primary.
I felt numb.
I sat in my van watching a toddler break free from her mom and race across the parking lot and the mom sprint after her. It reminded me of my own probably napping at the sitter. That’s when the tears hit and broke free. I broke down in the lot, face buried in my hands hearing Reshma sing ‘Badi Lambi Judai’. Irony rules my life.
Relief, pain and fear.
It was not pleasant, but if I had to go through it again, I would. Coz what I felt in that parking lot was worth it all for the anxiety, uncertainty and risk of 4 weeks. Despite the discomfort, the test proved that I was not going anywhere, I still had time on this earth to do what I want and can. Life is certainly a gift.
If we could help give that certainty and assurance to one other woman, a mom, a daughter, another human being, and all it takes is a click you would, wouldn’t you? Please click on the link below and do the needful.
A favor to ask, it only takes a minute….
Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on “donating a mammogram” for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn’t cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.Here’s the web site! Pass it along to people you know.
I don’t check stats [more on that later] but wordpress has this handy little feature that shows the links that a visitor has clicked on from your page and keeps a count of it. Hope to see this link reach a nice number. Thanks. :)
Update 5.35 pm:
I have 9 comments, 44 views of this post, 201 hits to the blog, yet only 9 clicks to the breastcancersite! Cmon lurkers!
Update 9.04 am est on oct 4th:
Yesterday was 9 clicks and Today [WP starts the day at 8pm est for me, GMT and all that] it is up to 11. Grand total of 20 mammograms given out! THANK YOU!