About 38 hours ago, I felt a pebble-sized mass deep inside my arm pit on the side of my right breast. I felt it and felt it and fingered it. Every thirty seconds of my shower, I reached to feel it again, unsure if I had really felt something. My first instinct, was to pretend that I did not feel anything. A younger version of myself would have done that, would not have said anything. My second instinct was to not tell anyone but get it checked out. How dumb would that have been; to wait until A Situation was too dire to be corrected? I can't think of anything more egregious to do to my family.
I am not the person I once was. I do not encapsulate myself anymore in an air-tight iron shell when I'm scared or when I fear things will go terribly wrong. I actually did not know that entirely about myself until I got to work yesterday morning and IM'ed Husband. I had not planned on telling him, but when we started messaging, I knew I needed him. I knew he would help me. We had been typing back and forth, like we do every morning, and he was talking about his new, great job that he'll start soon. We often interweave three or four subjects together via IM and I slipped in that I was a little worried about The Baby Mass I had found on the side of my breast. He typed, You found what? I typed, It's probably nothing. I have my period, my boobs are swollen. He said, You check that out now. Today. I said, Ok. And then I asked him if he was nervous about his new job. He said, I don't give a shit about this job right now.
Two days ago, I visited a good friend of mine who had a double mastectomy a week ago. She is a tough woman in her early 40's with a beautiful face and suburbia style. She is loud and funny, and she trained herself early to speak poorly of herself. I do not allow that kind of talk around me and she appreciates that. As we visited, she explained that when she found her lump, she kicked into gear. Her mentality was: There is something bad in me and I'm going to get it out; everything will be fine and that's that. She looked no different on Sunday than any other day I had seen her. She hid her drains under her button-down tailored blue oxford. I told her that with a flat chest she looks like she has the body of an athlete. She showed me her scars, and she rattled off all that she has learned and researched. She asked me about raw foods. I told her that I believe food is medicinal. She is going to buy a juicer and asked me if I would show her how to use it. Her four year old daughter came out to the porch where we sat and asked for snacks, and I saw her husband in the shadows of the kitchen looking tired. She said, If I have to have chemo, then so be it. If lose my hair, so what. Maybe I can get a big boob job out of the whole deal. I said, It still sucks that you have to go through this. She said, without the pretense, Yeah.
After I IM'd Husband, I called Dr. K who is a casual Indian woman with a You-Don't-Know-Suffering! bedside manner. If you complain or share a concern, she looks at you from over her glasses, and I always imagine her saying in her thick accent, "Are you famished? Do you have leprosy? Then stop your bitching." This quality in her comforts me. This type of doctoring works for me. After my appointment was set, 34 hours after I had discovered the mass, I imagined her saying, "Is your boob falling off? Of course you have no cancer, Idiot. Out of my office!" Then I imagined seeing her show true concern for the first time. I worried more than before.
Last night and today, I tried to pretend that The Baby Mass did not bother me. I channeled my energy into The Thing That Husband Won't Let Me Blog About, and I honestly at times couldn't understand why I was so stressed about The Thing. Every stall in The Thing caused severe aggravation and stress that I couldn't seem to relieve. So, to get away from stressing about The Thing, I thought about The Baby Mass. I had no break from myself.
I did not feel gung ho about taking care of this if it turned out to be something. I did not feel strong and positive like my friend does. I felt mad. I felt inconvenienced. I did not want to stop the forward motion of my life for a health concern. I was very angry at myself for not starting a mostly raw diet before. Aren't I the picture of health? Then I was angry about how our poor Earth is so fucking toxic that it's now common for women in their thirties and forties to address cancer frequently. Why hadn't I eaten organically longer? Why did I smoke for 5 years, ever, at all?
My mother had fibrous breasts. I remember as a kid that she had to have a couple operations to remove benign lumps. I had to stay with other people for extended periods during those times. I thought about that. Maybe I had inherited fibrous breasts. But wouldn't I have felt something before age 39?
At 4 o'clock today, I sat in Dr. K's office with a front-opening paper gown and stared at the posters on the wall. I had passed a pharmaceutical rep on the way into the room who almost rolled her travel case full of drugs over my toes. I gagged on her perfume. I thought of the evils of her job and how she was only a pawn in a smart, navy skirt suit. I did not want to be on what she was selling. The posters in the office gave me paranoia. Does my foot look like a diabetic foot? Oh my god, will I have to go through this shit later in life? But what mainly filled my mind sitting on the exam bed staring at the Colon Cancer poster was that I decided I would live and heal and die by the power of natural foods and holistic methods. I am not taking any gut-rot medicine. I wondered if I would be brave enough to treat cancer holistically. When really faced with that possibility, I felt an inch tall. The medical world would tell me a quick death was certain. God, one must really be brave to stick to off-path desires.
Dr. K came in. As she asked me questions, I stared at an interesting gold necklace she wore. The pendant was four coins stuck together in the shape of a diamond. Each coin had a design that I couldn't see clearly because the gold glared from the window's light. I laid down and she examined me gently. She looked at me from over her glasses and said, "You have a very swollen gland. You're fine." I nervously blurted that I had just visited a friend who had a double mastectomy. She said, "It is easy to imagine such things after seeing that," which was rather tender for her. And that was it. I speed dressed and fled the building. I raced walked to my car. The relief I was looking for in the previous 34 hours of intense tension had come. I texted Husband, and then I cried for the first time in two years. I cried because my instincts are so shot that I felt completely in the dark about which way the ax would fall. In the car, I tried to think of how I could live my life better. I dunno. I feel I'm doing a pretty good job. I tried to think about what I was spiritual. I believe in the connection to and the power of Nature. I'm true to that. But the only thing I worship is Husband, Maya and Mina. When the chips felt like they were tumbling, they were all that mattered. I suppose this is obvious, but my sensitivity to this fact, there in the car outside Dr. K's office, was heightened and deepened a thousand fold. And for this I cried and cried.