Almost Breast Cancer .. No Time To Think
My age – on the other side of 50
My family history – breast, colon cancer, which tend to be linked in families
My mind-body problem – bouts of depressive episodes since age 11
Those risk factors haunted me as I went through the ordeal of two ultrasounds and one biopsy after the yearly mammogram. One phone call puts our life on hold and makes even the most independent of us dependent on the medical community.
The receptionist for my primary care doctor made that call. Although there was nothing wrong with the X-ray results, the radiologist recommended an ultrasound. I said I would think about it. Silence on the other end. But that’s what this overeducated Baby Boomer does: Think about it.
When my car was stolen three years ago, I thought about it before I called the insurance company and the police. When my younger sister called to say our mother had died, I thought about it before I joined with the rest of the family in what folks do after a death.
After thinking about it, self-important professional me took the time out to make an appointment at St.RaphaelHospital, New Haven, Connecticut. The ultrasound took about 45 minutes. Defensive medicine. That’s what the legal writer sneered at such a “waste of time.”
Then the call came that “they” wanted me in for a second ultrasound. This time as it was being done, the radiologist came into the room. I had a choice. Monitor the ambiguous area in the left breast for two years or have a biopsy. This time I didn’t think about it.
This is the big time. That’s what I thought to myself (reflection is my #1 defense) as I lay on the table at St.Raphael Hospital. Attending me were two medical doctors, a technologist, and registered nurse. I wondered who I could get to give a home to my 16.5 year old cat Jason after I died of breast cancer.
Two hours later I was on the way back to my home office. Everything had changed. It didn’t matter that the recession had reduced the revenue from my once wildly successful business. It didn’t matter that I had burned some bridges which I could have repaired and still navigated to hustle for new business. It didn’t matter that I rented and, moreover, didn’t have a weekend getaway near the ocean.
Everything is still changed, even though the mass was benign. “They” want a follow-up biopsy in six months. I can’t believe that I don’t have cancer, like most of the other members of my family. I can’t believe that I have already lived longer than 90% of them. I can’t believe that I seem a winner in the genetic lottery. At least so far.