hey cancer, fuck off!

“I mean, how many times am I going to have to keep coming back every six months? Nothing has changed since the beginning. I just woke up and found a lump and went to the doctor right away. I don’t understand why we keep looking at it. Shouldn’t it be biopsied? I’ve been here three times for the same tests and I don’t want to keep coming back every six months.”

The young ultrasound tech kept on task but then said, “Do you want a biopsy?” I responded with, “Well isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? Isn’t that the only way we’ll know?” To which she said, “Well I know I would want to know.”

So then just do it. She wasn’t sure whether she could schedule an immediate ultrasound. But in the moment, I knew it had to happen. I reminded me of a conversation I had had with Mary. My nipple was pointed down and had been for the entire year. I had pointed that out the last time I went in for my ultrasound six months earlier. But I was told this was common. I knew it wasn’t common for Mary and in fact, it was cancer. It wasn’t right for me either.

And so the action I have fervently sought over a year ago was finally going to happen.

In the moment, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What took you so long?”

Let me tell you, that biopsy wasn’t at all pleasant. I did not want to hear about or discuss the logistics of it. I told Tracey, the nurse, that I needed my headphones so I could listen to the loudest music possible. I stumbled around and found Billy Squire’s, “In the Dark.” And it played almost 7 times.  The core needle biopsy sounds like a gun going off; feeling not unlike a large needle, ejecting itself into the underside of my nipple. Only six or so times did this gun go off. And there was blood mixed with iodine everywhere.

I left the clinic feeling as though I had been violated on some level. Raped in a strange way. So incredibly vulnerable. I stood outside the car and felt the warmth of my tears flow down my cheeks. Light snow was falling. It was peaceful and quiet. And then it occurred to me that there was no way I was going to my mother’s for dinner. Even my choir practice seemed like more effort than I had as I drove away from the imaging center.

At least it was over with. Now I could get on with it. Someone would agree to take the damn lump out. I’d only been waiting for over a year.

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