First day cancer diagnosis: what goes through your mind

So, It Turns Out I Have Lady Cancer

Each of us remembers our first day cancer diagnosis. By way of back story, I felt a lump in my breast two months ago. I did what conscientious women do and made an appointment with my gynecologist. She advised to wait until after my cycle to see if the lump was still there. (Can I digress for a moment here and say there seems something fundamentally strange about posting information about my period and breasticles on the internet?) In any event, the lump remained. My doctor referred me for a mammogram and an ultrasound. Nothing showed up on the mammogram but the ultrasound indicated a mass of some sort on my right breast. Okay. So, we rocked along and they confirmed the lump needed further investigation. They recommend a biopsy.
welcome to cancer

The Second Waiting Room

I have always been leery of the waiting room, but now I understand that the waiting room is only a pale comparison of the second waiting room with all the sick people. The first waiting room is for the friends and family. The second waiting room is where all the action is. I removed my clothes from the waist up and was advised to put on a pink hospital gown. I was then directed to the second waiting room. As I rounded the corner I was struck by the sea of pink before me. The first thing that popped into my head was that it looked like a field of pink cows. This is not a reflection of the size of the women so much as it is just that cows are herded and uneducated and guided by the will of beings they don’t understand.

First valuable lesson: bring reading material

Four month old People magazine will not sustain you for longer than six minutes and you have eighty-two more minutes to fill the void. There is some sort of dampening force field around the hospital, probably on account of the millions of dollars of life-saving machinery housed within which disrupts cell phone reception for everyone in the second waiting room. Everyone except the mouthy woman who wants to talk very loudly about her lady parts and how rude everyone who has spoken to her is. And she keeps saying, “Uh-huh” into the phone as the staple of her vocabulary. I silently thank her for giving me something to focus my negative energy since the only other options are eight month old Women’s Day magazines and cancer pamphlets.

The biopsy was a bit more harrowing than anticipated. The placement of the mass was such that the doctor had a hard time accessing it. I just had to sit still with my legs akimbo, my right arm over my head and over to the left, my face towards the ultrasound screen (I like to look) watching a needle penetrate my body in a fascinating creepy way. What the f*ck is this mass doing in there anyway? Stupid mass. Results anticipated three days later.

Welcome to Cancer

welcome to cancer

Only the next day the doctor called me as I drove my son home after swimming lessons. As soon as the phone rang at 7:30 p.m., my son Devlin started shouting with his outside voice from the back seat, non-stop. I WANT TO TALK TO DADDY! TELL HIM I DON’T WANT FISH STICKS FOR DINNER! I was trying to listen to the doctor who was talking to me anyway even though Devlin relentlessly shouted inane questions and observations at me. The doctor advised the results were back from the biopsy and unfortunately they indicated breast cancer. I am welcome to make an appointment during his clinic the following day and we can talk at length about it. It’s low grade and relatively small, both of which are preferable. I responded that I was pretty sure that I could make some time in my schedule the next day to talk to him about the fact that I have breast cancer. Wow. No words. I decided to wait to tell my husband until I had more information after the following days’ appointment.

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