there was a hard lump in my upper chest cavity so i went to see my doctor. she recommended i go to a breast surgeon at the cancer center in greenwood. (what? that six letter word bears serious weight with me these days, and gd it i’m so tired of worry and what ifs…)
i make the appt.
the center then tells me my insurance is out of network and will mark my folder “urgent” and send it to the claim’s department to see if they will bend the rules. (wtf? “urgent?” but i feel fine…)
a few days later the center calls to say my insurance will work with them but they’ve decided to not accept my insurance company’s demands. so… could i call my family doctor and try to find a different center?
i call my dr.
she takes days to get back with me.
when she finally does she asks if i’m willing to go to a hospital in indy for an ultrasound and consult. but…why, i ask? i’ve had issues before and been taken care of by our local breast center… why indy then?
she takes another few days to get back with me.
when she finally does, she says, “okay. you can go to the place in town. tell them to do a thorough ultrasound of your right breast and then to send all the info back to me, okay?” (yes, of course, okay.)
i then have the appt. in my town. they leave me sitting in a room all alone for an hour in a starchy robe with my fears pressing deeper into me with each passing second.
then, hallelujah. the ultrasound reveled just what i thought: everything looked fine, the mass could be any number of things, none of them life-threatening. and so, i called my mom. and texted my family. and let it go…
but then: a few days later, my doctor calls.
she says, “would you please consider seeing a local cancer surgeon for a 2nd opinion?”
and, i crumble…
really? that word AGAIN? after i finally let my guard down?
and so, like a good girl, i listen to my dr. and make the appt. and decide not to tell anyone but e and my mom (knowing my mom would tell my sister). and then i wait.
meanwhile. i feel FINE. i feel GOOD. but, emotionally… i’m a new kind of a wreck because you see, i’ve been an emotional wreck over so many pressing things this year already (and it’s. only. the beginning. of. april.) so in the dark corners of the night i start to imagine what it might be like to need surgery, to have breast cancer, to have to alter the body i’ve only really recently come to love as the holy vehicle it is…and even, i start to imagine what it might be like to have to leave those i love. those i adore. the ones who grew from my own body and nursed at these beautiful life-sustaining breasts.
and my heart begins to ache every moment. and time moves so slowly as i await the appt.
but even when time moves slowly it moves continuously towards tomorrow, and the day of the appt finally came.
and so, today i saw the surgeon in his tiny, hot, stuffy office with all the “hoosiers outrun cancer” plaques covering the walls. i put on the scratchy humiliating paper robe and i tried to smile when he came into the room telling jokes and offering me his humility. and i tried to let his words sink in as he said them, “i believe the mass is nothing more than normal.” “i think you’re fine, angela. i really do. just be sure to follow up with your family doctor…”
and now here i am. healthy just like i thought but incredibly shell-shocked and more tender than ever. my heart feels like the skin containing all i’ve ever felt is rice paper thin.
and i want to hold all of you i’ve ever loved close in my arms, pressed tightly against me until the trembling inside lifts. and i want to just be here in my hard lovely life. and i want to tell my story. and i want to bow to all of those that have ever had to hear hard words come from their doctor, to all of you that didn’t get to hear, “i think you’re fine. i really do.” and i want to claim the days i have, and i want to fill them to overflowing with my quirky compassionate angela energy while they’re mine to live.