After finding the lump in my breast I was terrified. It was the day after my birthday. I was scheduled to see my regular doctor anyway. Being a stroke survivor means a lot of appointments. I could tell by his face he was worried. He immediately told me to see my gynecologist to have him check it too, but he also has tracked a mammogram.
I broke the news to my mom that I had a lump.
“What do you mean? What kind of lump? Where?” She asks in a flurry of words that mark her worry.
“You know how my boobs keep getting hard…well now there’s a lump. A big one. Like on the side.” Saying it my throat feels tight. I want to sound brave.
“It could be a lot of things though. A cyst, fat nodules….”My voice trails off. Cancer has been whispering in my ear for days now. I poke and prod at the lump so often it’s bruised.
Finally the day of my mammogram arrives. I have concluded that the whispering is wrong. No one believes I could have cancer. I am wrong that I have cancer.
The facility is nice. I almost feel like I’m heading for a spa. There are nice wooden lockers that have famous Hollywood starlet and political names on them. I choose Eleanor Roosevelt. After securing my clothes in the locker I enter the room. This is not what I expected. The machine is huge. The technician is kind I find the machine which rotates to take 360 ° pictures of my breast tissue, amazing
Afterwards the technician tells me to wait. They are waiting on a doctor from Fort Worth to review my scans. I am thinking this is odd but I’m not too freaked out. After all, it could just be to calm me down.
In the meantime, I am told they want me to have an ultrasound done. This is completed and I hate how this lump seems to grow larger by the second. The tech for this part is very quiet. Her only comment is to say that the mass is large and doesn’t move.
It’s not long before the mammogram tech and I are in a small room with a black conference telephone between us.
“Ms. James, we are very concerned with your mammogram. It shows a large an mass. It had uneven sides. There are also several small masses. We need you to have a biopsy.” She said so much more calm and conciliatory.
The technician is walking me out and I’m trying to process this.
“So… it was bad? I have cancer?” I am lost.
“I can’t tell you that but we don’t ever make the call from Fort Worth like that… You will be ok. You’re young.” She adds the young part like it matters. I know it might, but am sick of hearing it.,
With that, I thank her and walk out with my copies of the mammogram results.
My biopsies are done and the results take forever. My mom comes to be with me. I get my official diagnosis of breast cancer. The tumor is 3.8 cm and has a feeder tumor attached. There are several small tumors scattered throughout. Due to the size and scope, I need a complete mastectomy.
My thoughts are fuzzy and confused. I was angry. I was looking for a reason for the cancer. I was ready to have it out. Strangely, I comforted people around me, but was also a complete bitch. I lashed out. I screamed at my own mom in the town square. I needed to know what kind I had, because until you’re diagnosed you have no idea how many kinds there are. I would find out.