It as a unusually sunny spring day, the kind you really enjoy after a long winter. I remember clearly not wanting to go to my “check up” and rather finding an ice cream stand and basking in the sun for a while. But dutifully I went because it was to be my last before I moved country.
You see I was leaving my job and in the process of moving to Amsterdam, Holland where I was planning to be married! I had only a few days before my insurance was to run out and I just figured I would tie up some loose ends before I kissed the good old USA good bye.
That check-up day would be the longest day of my life. First of all my own Doc was taking a vacation, and this young intern gave me a vice grip for a hand shake and extremely over in enthusiastic check up. She went around and around my breast to the point I was starting to think she was getting intimate! Then I thought, heck she just does not know what she is doing… Was I far from off base.
She immediately asked for a mammogram. I was 34 and never had one before, so naturally I agreed, but reluctantly went off to the next MRI clinic that same day only to find that this young intern really knew her stuff. Not only was she correct but she was also well connected to a Philly doctor who is know to be the best breast man on the east coast.
I got hooked up immediately with the Philly doc taking my photos with me. I have a dear friend who is a ex-nurse who slapped the mammogram up on her word processor white screen and turned to me and said.
“Honey, I am no expert, but there is definitely something wrong here”. And I curiously looked at this outer-space shaped tentacle spider like thing glowing back at me from her computer screen. She told me to be strong but brace myself for some form of surgery just to get it out of me, malignant or not.
I hugged her and said, I have a good life and this thing is not going to stop me living it to the fullest. She laughed and in her May West raspy voice she told me “you go girl”!
I had an appointment which after sitting in the waiting room and hearing that most patient took 7 to 10 months to even speak to this wonder-breast-doc. Even hear stories of he doing some breast stuff for famous people. I felt I was in the best hands possible. Even when he gave me the news, my sister almost passed out from the shock. He walked in the room and as he was shaking hands he beautifully said, we all know why we are here. I nodded, and he continued to tell me the details of the size and shape of my tumor and that it most likely has “escaped” into my lymph and hopefully was caught by my sentinel node.
He called another expert at Sloan Kettering where he had contact, and done a stint there in New york. He conversed that with my age, no holds bar was necessary. We are going to pull out all the stops! Wow, I was really impressed to even think about myself.
It was not until I got to the secretary that it had finnally sunk in about having the surgery and being turned into a blue smurf so the cancer could be easily traced. Even the stay in the hospital came down like a ton of bricks. I can remember having a hard time seeing my way to my sister’s car. My eyes were beginning to well up.
We decided to not go home but to get a bit to eat. I ordered a soup, I had no appettite. My sister is good at assessing situations, she asked me what I was thinking. I said, I AM SCARED SHITLESS. and I don’t curse as a matter of habit. She then said, what is the worst thing that could happen? I answered. I could die.