On September 8th I had the pleasure of experiencing the “waffle maker” for the first time in my life. Two weeks before my son’s first day pre-kindergartner, I felt a small lump, the size of an almond, in the area above my right breast while I was drying after taking a shower. Immediately, my stomach churned.
My son was riding his scooter–his way of transportation around the house these days–outside my bathroom, and I could hear him laughing while I tried to swallow the storm of tears that were enveloping my eyes. I put on my make up with the hands of a maracas player’s pulse–some how I didn’t end up looking like a fright mask–and drove my baby to his first day of VPK.
Although I am a positive person and always try to look at the bright side of things, but my health issues always make me think the worst, just like Charlie Brown.
I left the carpool line and called my OBGYN. They scheduled me for an emergency check up with the on-call physician for that afternoon. Then, I called my husband, and as usual, he calmed me down. He has that power over me; he said, “Everything will be fine” and I believed him, because he always tells the truth.
This was also my fist day at work, but I simply couldn’t go. Quite the employee right? Calling in sick the first day! I went home and made the beds, cleaned the kitchen, and started a load of laundry. Hurrying out the door for the first day of school left a hurricane aftermath that I didn’t have time to straighten up. It was the perfect distraction at a moment when fatalistic thoughts were crawling all over me.
My husband came home and worked from the house to support me in silence. At 1 pm, we left the house at the same time but at the traffic light of our community entrance, he made a right turn heading to pick up our son, and I made a left turn, heading to uncertainty. Laying on the examination bed I could hear my heart beating in my throat. “I don’t feel anything,” the doctor said reassuringly. Yet, he asked me if I had family history of breast cancer. Immediately my Grandmother’s face came to mind.
Although the doctor was confident there was nothing to worry about, he ordered my first mammogram. It was August 24th, and the earliest appointment was September 8th. After the mammogram, they ordered a second ultrasound, but the first available appointment was a week later, September 15th. Finally, last Thursday September 17th, the nurse called me to tell me, “You have nothing to worry about dear.” Great! I only took four weeks to give me peace of mind. Thanks Obamacare!!!
Perhaps you might think I panicked for nothing. But…when I was 12 years old, my Nana had to undergo radical mastectomy surgery, and I became her nurse. For the entire Summer, I helped her bathe, clean her scar which demanded at least 30 stitches, and see her through the emotional recovery of that mutilation. The fear that cancer might walk into my life is a phantom difficult to ignore.
My Grandmother is the strongest woman I know. She lost her husband to violence in 1976 and became a single mother of seven kids, her youngest six years old. Had a car accident that kept her 19 days in the ICU in 1987, survived breast cancer in 1992, and lost her oldest son to Pancreatic Cancer in 2005.
October is coming up in a couple of weeks and so it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I think of my Grandmother constantly, and I remember her saying after her surgery: “Jesus said that if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:30
She is a very pragmatic woman, and it is through her faith in God that she has found the solace to endure the painful tests in her life. Thanks to her, I have learned to see my breasts just as any other muscle, without the vanity or the sex appeal.
To my female readers, take care of yourselves. And to my male readers, take care of your wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Schedule a check-up if you are 40 years old or at-risk due to your family history. Early detection definitively can save lives.
Thanks for reading and sharing.