Monday, June 28, 2010

On the first day of summer

On the first day of summer, a dark cloud appeared over my shoulder.

One week ago, I went to an appointment to find out the results of my needle biopsy. The first thing the woman I met with said was, "Hi, I'm Pat, your Breast Navigator." The second thing she said was, "You do have breast cancer."

I just nodded. She looked at me. "Were you expecting this?" I managed to get out a "No," but seeing no further reaction, she launched into explanations and paperwork and appointment-making. I listened and nodded and gave information as necessary.

It may seem odd to not expect these results after a biopsy, but both my doctor and I thought it was an inflamed lymph node, after I had been sick with multiple other problems. She sent me for a breast ultrasound. After I got to the ultrasound, the technician told me I needed a mammogram. Then the radiologist said I needed a biopsy. But then she said most lumps turn out to be benign. And I put it (mostly) out of my mind.

Back to the Breast Navigator: she pulled out a thick folder of leaflets, and told me what they were about, circled some images and dogearred some pages, then stuffed even more leaflets and papers inside before finally handing it over. I escaped into the blinding sunlight of the steaming, 100-plus degrees parking lot. I flopped into my car, cranked up the air, and sat there, unable to breathe.

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