Last Monday was a big day. In addition to marking a year post-diagnosis, I was scheduled for a screening mammogram of my left breast.
I’d been anticipating this day for months. With a positive report, it seemed I’d be able to breathe a little easier. That maybe Lefty would want to stick around.
All winter I’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed by my ongoing physical limitations and the constant thread of fear and worry that this isn’t over. Every couple of days, I’m smacked upside the head with the reminder that things aren’t really normal: YOU HAVE CANCER. THERE ARE BODY PARTS MISSING. YOUR ARM IS NUMB. TAMOXIFEN WON’T LET YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT.
At a recent check-in with my plastic surgeon, he reminded me that I’ve had multiple surgeries in under a year. That I should go easy on myself. That recovery will come, but to be patient.
I’ve been trying my best to move forward, to find my new normal, but honestly, I’ve been fumbling around. Reading what other folks in this boat have to say helps. So does napping on weekends.
I was a nervous wreck on Monday. Bless him, Mike came with me and we planned a whole day of distractions for afterward.
Sitting in the little mammogram waiting area, with a host of other mid-age women wearing warmed-up hospital gowns over their jeans and boots, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t stop crying. What if they found something? Were any of these women going to get the same call I did a year ago? What if the doctors changed their minds and I needed chemo and radiation, after all? No one noticed that I hogged the institutional box of Kleenex, which was fine but come on, people: put down the phone for a minute.
To get a good image, I’d been told the radiology technician would have to “move the implant out of the way.” Happy to share this maneuver was significantly less horrifying than it sounds. And true to nearly every experience I’ve had at Northwestern, the technician was incredibly kind and tried to ease my anxiety.
And then we went out for breakfast.
On Wednesday night, the results came in: Comparing images over the past 9 years, there have been no changes in the left breast! Come back in a year for another slam-o-gram!
Pass the Kleenex, please. Since the non-news news, we’ve planned a vacation and had some Champagne. And cried.
The long view is that this shit can continue to be hard. Might need to pin up some inspirational quotes at my desk.