Thursday, September 19, 2013

Remembering my cancer story- how it began

                                         every journey begins with that first step

how it began

I remember going in for that physical. It was just a few short weeks after I had celebrated my fiftieth birthday. Physicals are not my ideal way of spending any time, but its one of those things that needs to be done. It was during that particular exam that the doctor said the words that I had been waiting on. Its time for a mammogram. Now, every year I had waited (except for all those years that I didn't have a physical and was called on the mat for neglecting) to be told those very words. Now here it was, I shrugged, said okay set it up and waited for the appointment.
I have in the past and will forever be honest in that I have no sense of direction. None. Put me in a paper bag and turn it on its side and I still couldn't find my way out. So when the notification came as to when and where I would have my mammogram I had to drive out to try and find the place  before hand. Once that was done all I could do was wait. I don't like to wait, I really want to get things over and done with.
 When the day finally arrived I arrived early. I had heard all of the horror stories, I had heard how badly it hurt how it was embarrassing, how it definitely ranked right up there with all unpleasant activities times ten. The office was very tastefully done, it would have been very relaxing under other circumstances. Understated elegance. I found a seat to where I was out of the way and could fill out all the papers that were on the clipboard. I wasn't finished when I was called back to handle the insurance- sign in stuff. I had barely gotten back to my seat when I heard my name called once again. It was time.
 Following the leader I was taken to a dressing area. Entering the small but tastefully decorated dressing room I was told to strip to the waist and put on one of the available robes. They would come for me in a few minutes. It didn't take long before I was ready and sitting in the chair pretending to look through a magazine. When I heard my name called I jumped, startled out of my mental wanderings. Opening the door I followed the leader once again. Entering the examining room I looked at a very large, very imposing machine. I really, really, really would have rather been anywhere but there.
 The technician was very professional, very gentle and even apologetic. The process did hurt, but not as much as I had feared. Having a female technician did help some. From where I was positioned I could see the images as they appeared on the screen. I had no clue as to what I was looking at other than it was an image of my breast. Once the imaging was done, I pulled the robe back in place and was lead back to the dressing area I had used earlier. I was warned that since this was my first mammogram meaning they had nothing to compare the images to, not to be surprised if I got a call to come back. Nodding and not really paying the comments the attention I should have, I got dressed and left the building. Mark one more thing off my to do list. It was getting close to the holiday season and I had things waiting to be done.
  When I came in from work that one afternoon afterwards and had my son tell me to call my doctor my world tilted. Something had shown up on the mammogram. It had to be examined more closely. An appointment had been made for me to have more imaging done. The first mammogram had been just before Thanksgiving, now here I was going to have to go back in on the day after Christmas. When any self respecting bargain hunters would be out shopping the sales I was going to be enduring more mashing. I still shrugged it off as mere technicalities.
If I could go back...I would not be so flippant in my attitude. To my knowledge there had never been any breast cancer in my family. Breast cancer was a hereditary thing right? Wrong. How little I knew.
 Early on the appointed day my mother and I were sitting in the same waiting area, I in the same chair I had sat in that first day. We talked and made plans for our shopping expedition, we glanced at magazines, eavesdropped on the conversation of others and glanced from time to time at a television that was on but with the volume so low as to have you wondering why. when my name was called I handed my mother my purse and followed the voice back down the hallway. Back in a dressing room I followed the instructions and got ready for what was to come. Just another annoyance to deal with and move on.
 Once I was back in the room with the monster I thought I was ready. That hurts. I am not the most endowed person so trying to have this done is rather painful to say the least. When I realized that they only wanted one side I began to grow concerned. when I was asked to wait while they took the images to the doctor I grew more concerned. this was repeated two more times. Finally I was told to get dressed that they wanted to do an ultrasound. I went back to the dressing room in a bit of a fog. Once I was ready I was lead back down the hallway to the waiting area. The person leading the way chatting nonstop. Actually if I were honest I would say they were nearly babbling, they knew something I didn't. My mother looked at me oddly when she was told we couldn't go yet. I told her they wanted to do an ultrasound- that earned me-'that look'.
  Once again my name was called and I followed the leader down a different hall to a different room. I was given the same instructions though about stripping to the waist but this time I was told to put on a small paper vest. That vest in no way kept me warm in that ice box of a room. Once the technician came in and began the test I quickly forgot how cold I was. She kept going back over and over to the same spot. It all looked like a lunar landscape to me but she saw something else.
 Soon she told me I could go ahead, get dressed and leave. They would be in touch. Once I was back out in the waiting area I had lost all interest in shopping. We did try but it was very short lived. I already could I not after what I had just endured?

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