I was driving home from work, singing along to the radio and enjoying the sunshine. I suddenly felt a tenderness under the wire of my bra and immediately groped for the source of the discomfort. A lump. My face flushed with heat at the recognition of the intruder. I got home and stripped off my clothes, panicking as I examined the lump and the rest of my breasts. Like any millennial with a smart phone, I began to Google my symptoms: painful, palpable, oval. I didn’t allow myself to catastrophize. It was probably nothing… maybe a fibroadenoma. I reassured myself with the facts, with the likelihood that it was nothing and began to relax.
My boyfriend, Brian was not so relaxed. I was going to the doctor immediately, whether I liked it or not. My tumor is one sneaky little devil. So inconspicuous with it’s fibroadenoma disguise. It fooled many people until the day came when it would no longer be able to hide behind ultrasound images.
Friday the 13th was biopsy day. I’m not superstitious (I have a black cat), but I couldn’t help but feel that this was a bad omen. The fear of being awake during an invasive procedure was scarier than the biopsy itself. Fifteen minutes and done. The dentist is worse.
I was scheduled to go back to the office and hear the results on the following Wednesday. Brian was with me. I don’t remember anything that was said past, “Unfortunately, it’s cancer.” All I remember is the physical response that happens to the body when you hear bad news. I saw through what felt like a dolly zoom in a movie. My whole body flushed with heat. My ears got hot and the doctor began to sound so far away. My mouth became dry. Then she stopped talking and looked at me. No one said a word for what felt like 5 minutes. “I don’t know what to say,” I managed to squeak out. “I don’t think there’s anything to say. You’re just too young for this,” the doctor replied.
That’s when the fog rolled in. After that there was no hunger. No joy. No desire.
Is this going to kill me?
Being 29, I have seen just about every Nicholas Sparks movie that’s been made. Nicholas Sparks teaches us that young, good people who get cancer always die. I hate Nicholas Sparks.
Now that I know that my cancer is stage 1, estrogen and progesterone positive, HER2 negative, grade II, and I have a clean MRI in the rest of my breasts, my outlook is no longer bleak.
I AM NOT A SAD CANCER MOVIE.
I am not cancer.
It’s my boob, not me.
I will not be defined by this.