It happened to me, exactly 3 years ago this week.
After a series of tests, the radiologist said those few words that would change my life for the next 18 months.
“You need a biopsy.”
I wrote about it before, but I only discussed the details. I never addressed how it affected me, in both negative and positive ways.
The women in my family have died young, mostly in their 50’s, some in their 40’s, all by the early 60’s. I was 60 when I got the news.
I was sure. This would be the end for me. Breast cancer.
The surgery went well, he removed all of the questionable tissue, about the size of a clove.
And then, because it was a Friday, I had to wait for results a few more days.
Benign. Best word ever.
I was told it was harmless fatty tissue, but they continued to x ray and ultrasound the area for a suspicious shadow that would not go away.
It took a year and a half.
I don’t remember much of that time, only the constant worry.
They finally released me to “regular checkups”, and I could breathe easier.
It changed the way I looked at medicine. It was a business, and I had become a great consumer.
There was fear, uncertainty, caution, relief. There was also cynicism, doubt, resentment.
When all was said and done, I stopped believing that I was meant to die at age 60.
I was not living the life of the women who preceded me.
I take better care of myself.
And I’m grateful for every day.
“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.”