On March 17 I thought there would be no better way to celebrate St. Patricks Day than with a mammogram and ultrasound. I mean nothing says “Kiss Me I’m Irish” better than strange people pancaking and sliming up your boob to get a better look at the insides of the mammory glands. I wasn’t nervous…this was the last of 2-3 years of every six months or so checking up on the two fibroids Bonnie and Clyde that they found in 2011.
Well then the radiologist said, “Woah, zoom in on that. Nurse schedule a biopsy for Thursday please.” And then my whole world went super blurry because no one had said that in visit after visit…a biopsy…for what? I am getting a Phd. I am raising three children. I have finally met the love of my life. I don’t have time for this…I can’t even say it…the “C” word.
So I have the biopsy and it is weird and there is a needle vacuum involved and the banding of my boobs that makes me look like a 12 year old adolescent boy…and then there is the phone call the next day that says the surgeon would like to meet with you next Friday at 9:45 but I can’t tell you anything about your tests. And I won’t lie. My stomach got caught in my throat like when you are on a roller coaster and the first big hill is coming and I completely freaked the fuck out. And then it began…the waiting.
The waiting without wanting to think about it. Why would the surgeon want to meet with me? The calling of my friends who have had breast cancer. The not wanting to say the two words together in a sentence so I just make up other ways to say to my tribe…I might have breast cancer. The constant battle in my head about not putting anything bad out there but making secret plans to make sure there are meals for the kids and JTK and that everyone is taken care of when I am puking in the bathroom and losing my hair and my mom is living in the guest room. And how am I going to get through school? Oh my god…Breast Cancer.
For 5 days I thought I had cancer. For 5 days I cried and was extra tender with those that I love. For 5 days I tried not to worry when all I wanted to do was worry. For 5 days I didn’t sleep. I prayed. I called on my tribe to pray. I told everyone I know to get a mammogram. My darling friend sent me this prayer, “creator, father, mother, friend…i connect my health energy to melissa’s health energy. may she be restored to health…may her spirit grow from the fleshy challenges. light and love from the god of the universe who is the ultimate physician and holds us all in the palm of divine hands. amen”
And then the nurse called…it is BENIGN but the surgeon would like to meet with you. More worry. More wondering. But no cancer. I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to…BREATHE.
So here I am…post surgeon meeting…with a plan for follow up boob mapping once a year because I am a rare woman who grows gremlins in her mammory glands and I wonder, why don’t we talk about this publicly? Why don’t women get their baseline mammograms when they are supposed to? Why don’t we encourage our tribe and our sisters to get their mammograms too?
So here it is friends…get a mammogram. Tell the women in your lives to get a mammogram, support them in it. Do monthly breast self exams and get to know your lovely lady lumps because more often than not by the time you can feel the gremlin it might be too late. And remember to love your boobs, save the ta-ta’s, take care of the girls…support your sisters. Because the waiting…it is hell.