I found a lump.
After years and years of routine self-checks, I found a lump. At first I wasn't too sure. Maybe it wasn't really a lump. Maybe it was one of those, "only when you're on your period" lumps. Or one of those fibrocystic lumps that disappear after a few days. I had a mammogram not too long ago, a completely normal mammogram. It's probably nothing.
Except it was still there a month later.
This time I was a little concerned. The lump seemed bigger, grape-sized, and it was tender, as it sat there in my left breast. Still, my mammogram had been normal, so I waited a couple of days, and then I called my doctor and made an appointment for last Thursday.
My doctor has been with me for more than twenty years, and we've been through a lot. He entered the room with his usual handshake, and told me that we had to stop meeting like this. People would talk, he said. I laughed and told him that it wasn't my fault that I was lumpy. He examined my breast, and pointed out that there were actually two lumps close together. Then he sent me immediately over to the radiology clinic two buildings over, so I could have a sonogram.
It's probably nothing, he said. Cancer doesn't usually hurt.
So I went to have my breast sonogram. I lay there in the darkened room and watched the screen while the tech moved the wand over my chest. A dark shape loomed among the gray shapes on that monitor, and I could see it. So could the radiologist, who immediately ordered me to have another mammogram. Then they wanted to do a sonogram of the right breast as well, because they had pictures of that one from last year. All were sent for review by a radiologist as I sat in the waiting room in one of those weird gowns. At this point, I was sending joke texts to one of my friends while I waited, wondering if the tech was going to buy me dinner after all this picture taking. That was when the tech came out with a card and told me to call a different office to schedule a biopsy.
As they say, shit just got real.
So Larry and I took this past Tuesday off and I went to have a biopsy. It was cold in the room, and they didn't use nearly enough lidocaine to numb the area the first time. The biopsy needles are very long and it sounds like a staple gun when they take the sample. After the biopsy, the radiologist inserted markers into the mass, as well as a lymph node that looked suspicious. Markers are inserted in case the tumors try to leave town, I guess. Than I had another mammogram, with all my gauze and tape still on. I was sent home with the knowledge that they would be calling before Friday.
They called me the next day.
I was at work, of course, and when I looked at my phone, I found two messages asking me to call. It was urgent, both messages said. I sat in my car, alone in the parking lot of the elementary school where I work, and I called. My own doctor was on vacation, so the on call doctor had the joy of telling me that the mass in my breast was malignant. He was referring me to a surgeon, he would send all the records to this person, here was the phone number so I could call and make an appointment.
And then he told me to have a nice day before he hung up.