just passed my four weeks after my final chemo date. ya-freakin-hoo!
last go round was intense (as it is a cumulative process), and then as you get toward the end of week three your body starts to ready itself for the next assault. when it doesn’t come, it begins to get nervous, like you are tricking it somehow. as you begin the fourth week, you are deep in conversation with your body, “no really. we are done. it’s o.k. no tricks. it is over and now it is time to start rebuilding this body. “
it was brought to my attention that my poor neglected left breast had not been checked in over 18 months since it’s sister had been getting all of the attention. it was time for a mammogram to make sure the other one was still safe.
my appointment was scheduled at some uncivilized hour around 7ish in the morning. the sky just getting light.
the woman behind the desk was very nice and cheerful. more paperwork (always more paperwork) forms, questions. retelling. reliving. remembering. it starts to get fresh and just a bit raw again really quickly. “insurance still the same? address? is this still the same primary contact number?”… awkward pause, but she recovers quickly, takes a deep breath and clears her throat, “well, alright then…”
I am taken to the changing room, and put on one of those shapeless matronly gowns with the childish prints on them. big grown up baby outfits. one size fits all. all the same. two breasts, one or none.
another perky woman escorts me into the exam room. more questions. more remembering. discover that she too went thru the breast cancer worm hole. something comforting about that. I am asked to open and pull off my gown and begin an exam. cold hands, cold room. she talks non stop, over enunciating like she were talking to a child instead of a woman. so friendly. so cheery. her approach: detached, proficient, clinical. like someone working in a clean room where they slide their hands into those giant latex dish washing gloves to do their work. to handle the items they are touching , without really coming in contact with them. without really touching them. I feel myself so overcome with the sadness of being touched like this and wondering if I will ever be touched any other way in my life. it chokes me. I am a slab of meat. just looking for lumps. for land mines…I hold my breath.
then I am taken to the mammogram room. monochromatic, no windows, fluorescent lights, the hum of machinery. another friendly woman. she too wears the baby/woman smock. cold hands, cold plastic, cold room. I open my top and step up to the squeeze machine. I am very small chested and it is no mean feat to fit me into the vice and smash me to the plate. all I can think of is that this act of smashing my breast and blasting it with radiation must surely give you cancer if you don’t already have it…I must erase those thoughts. I find my yoga breath and look past her into the corner of the sterile room. then I move to another position and am smashed, flattened, blasted again. microwaved meat. a lean cuisine in an appetizer portion…
I am told that If there is something “wrong” I will get a phone call, otherwise I will just receive a letter in the mail saying everything is fine. I pray that my phone will not ring. but after the last letter I received in the mail, I am not sure if that is too comforting either.
all of the women kind, helpful, cheerful, yet I leave feeling like part of a science experiment. actually more like a blind clinical trial. this is what we do, and there are no guarantees, and we don’t really know for sure, but we don’t know what else to do, so we will do all of these tests. “thank you. come again!”
stay tuned for the flip side of my afternoon…