Last week I found out that they need me to come in for additional, more detailed imaging of my left breast. It is hard to keep myself from considering worst case scenarios. Well, the worst case scenario. I can’t even type it. Cancer.
It’s a cruel, horrible process, the waiting. You get a call that sets off a claxon of an alarm bell in your head, then they tell you next to nothing. It forces you into a state of hyper anxiety that can’t be eased until you know one way or the other, which could be a day, a week, a month, depending on your schedule and theirs. For me it is going to be eight days. A very long and distracted eight days during which I have to pretend -- even to myself – that everything is normal.
It’s hard to hide that kind of worry. It’s hard to slap a happy face on and go to work every day. Even if I wanted to, who can I tell? There is nothing to say yet. What sense does it make to gift those you love with that alarm bell when it is more than likely nothing?
And it is more than likely nothing. My frantic, comforting internet research tells me that with all the false positives and other things they could be seeing, especially in my denser-than-normal tissue, there is only a 10% chance that whatever they saw is cancer.
And it means nothing. Whatever research I do to make myself feel better can’t change whatever that follow-up test is going to say. What is, is already.
I tell myself I have no symptoms. I tell myself that it doesn’t run in my family, and that the one person in my family who got tested for the BRCA gene was negative.
I’m so tired and frustrated. It’s like a prizefight with my body that just won’t end. I’m only 42 and this might be my fourth round already. First meningitis, then uncontrolled diabetes, then kidney disease. My body and I keep fighting over my right to live. I have sent each condition packing time and time again, but when will it be over? I can handle the old stuff; I don’t know if I have the capacity to deal with something new.
But wait, maybe all that experience is what’s preparing me for this latest round. Is the survival rate of breast cancer worse than diabetes? Or meningitis? No. Really no on the second one. Cancer is scary, but if the worst is true, this is a fight I could win. I hope. I’ve beaten odds like that before. I could again if I have to.
But I don’t know if I do.
Guess I’ll just have to wait.