An Overachieving Between
I am an overachiever. The doctor told me that after he told me that I had breast cancer. He said if I had to have it (as if), I'd picked the best one possible. That doctor's statement is how I started my 2015. That was not what I'd planned. I'd planned a year of writing two books, a patent at work and training to compete as a figure athlete in the summer, followed by a bang-up bash to celebrate my milestone birthday in a pretty place in October. I'd planned college trips and dance recitals with my children, and a beach holiday with tons of friends. Here I was, in the best shape of my life, yet I was diagnosed with the disease whose mention made every woman and quite a few men take a serious deep breath and the blood to drain from many a face.
I've always known that breast cancer was coming for me. I have lived like one of TheBetween as described in Tannanarive Due's novel, someone who cheats death and because death can never be cheated, it is always lurking, waiting, just out of sight, except my cheat was on a generational level.
My mother succumbed to breast cancer at 38. When she died, they made me go canvassing for donations for the American Cancer Society from door to door. Who would turn down a cute seven year old bearing the message that her mother had died? What kind of heartless person would that be? Besides, if I did that, maybe the cancer gene would skip me and my life would be spared.
I was not scared. I started mammograms at 26, and had 4 biopsies of suspicious areas since then. I procrastinated every year, sometimes scheduling my yearly dose of poking and boob squishing months after the doctor ordered it, as if not knowing would mean it didn't exist.
Years ago, I found a lump when I was pregnant and nearly died from stress. I wrote about this in my book, Momma: Gone. My mother had been diagnosed while she was pregnant and at the time, the choice was baby, or cancer, and she chose baby.
In my case, it turned out to be nothing but a clogged duct, so it wasn't long before I fell back into my false sense of security. In the back of my mind, if I did the requisite tests every year and did my monthly exams, then I couldn't get cancer. Mammography would protect me. Only, It didn't.
My fear got bigger when I turned 38. As the years progressed, I was living in more and more borrowed time, In that space between life and paralyzing worry.
That changed this year. I have a great job, a loving husband and wonderful kids. What could go wrong?
A doctor could suggest I have an MRI--that was the new suggestion for women like me, people with family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue.
My mammogram was normal. My ultrasound was normal.
My MRI was not.
To be continued