Sunday, July 21, 2013

Superhero, Cape and All

This summer has been quite trying for me.

A week ago I discovered a lump in my breast. For the duration of every single one of the days leading up to a few moments ago, I incessantly argued with myself in my head about the reasons I can or cannot have breast cancer. I awoke this morning after a series of nightmares which seemed to encapsulate every fear that I was facing in anticipation of today. I mundanely dressed after my shower and despite the sweltering temperatures outside, neglected to put on deodorant per the breast center’s instructions. I left my apartment, passing my hermit neighbor and forcing out a high-pitched hello to which he responded with his typical staring at the floor as if it were about to rip open and suck him into some fiery chasm. I felt like smacking the glasses right off his face, because damn it I needed that friendly hello back today.

I entered my car and began to drive to what I felt was my imminent demise. It must have been quite a sight to the neighboring cars as I alternated between drying my eyes and armpits with the stack of old napkins I had in my center console. I composed myself in the parking lot as I sat staring at the sign hovering over the spot I had parked in “breast care patient only.” I felt as though everyone who witnessed my choice in parking would judge me…labeling me as part of a statistic. I felt as though my individuality was slowly slipping away; but really what would it be to add one more medical problem to the laundry list I have collected throughout this life?

Once I was in the examination room I was told to undress from the waist up and put on the garment. I got undressed and glanced at my breasts in the mirror. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was an evil glint in my nipples’s eyes as they seemed to be gazing up at me with a ‘we can kill you, you know’ look on their face. I unfolded my provided garment which appeared to be a sort of cape. There were no sleeves, just a button snap at the neck.

To spare you the dirty details I will skip over the part where I was man-handled by a bunch of different women and machines feeling up my breasts, all the while making strange noises which are WAY too easy to read into whist waiting to hear test results. I mean we all know just how vivid my imagination is. At last the fondling was over and I was left to be with my thoughts while the doctor reviewed the ultrasound photos.

Moments passed in my clockless examination room as I sat there staring at the “Peace Dove” portrait hanging on the wall. In came the doctor with a look on his face that seemed terrible (hindsight he probably either had gas, or it was me projecting my fear into him).
            Doc: “Malina, is it?”
            Me: “yes”
            Doc: “I’m Dr. X (omitting name for privacy) what you are feeling in your breast is a
            benign cyst.”

I am not sure what he said next… All I know is fireworks were going off in my mind’s eye and I was ecstatic. I wondered if he could detect the utter and total euphoric feelings that were exploding within me. His speech was quick. The nurse told me I was free to go and closed the door behind me. I immediately stood up proudly in my cape and raised both arms in triumph. I even took a victory lap in the examination room and watched as I passed the mirror as the cape was flying after me. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt like a superhero at that instant.   

I can only hope that every single other women that crosses the threshold of that breast care center today had as good of results as I did. And to the women I know that have faced their battles and triumphantly are on the other side of cancer; congratulations. I now know what it feels like to be on the cusp of something earth shattering. I was fortunate to slip away unscathed. 

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