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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Possible Lump at One O'clock

Did you know that when doctors and technicians at cancer-screening facilities talk about lumps, they divide the breast into 12 sections and refer to each area as a different time on a clock?

My possible "lump" (though my doctor never called it that) was discovered last Friday on my left breast at the 1 'o clock position.

I'd always liked that time of day, just after lunch (sliced turkey and Swiss, a handful of Tim's potato chips, a dill pickle . . ), or possibly just before, when the rumbling's begun and lunch is what I'm looking forward to (shall I have the leftover lasagna or a bowl of clam chowder?).

But 1 o'clock was suddenly something different.

The hardest part about a mammogram is not being able to breathe. I found it almost impossible to hold my breath, even for a few seconds.

Oh, and having to wait in a little room all by yourself while the technician shows the images to a radiologist. I didn't want to worry, so I sat there making a list of all the reasons I might and might not have cancer until I heard a knock and saw her smile.

But let's do an ultrasound just in case, so now the radiologist going over and over 1 o' clock with his gooky wand. After about three minutes, I say "so, you're not finding anything?" And he says "but she said there was a lump," and I say, "Well, actually, she didn't say there was a lump. She said she felt something and she wasn't sure . . . so just to be safe . . .". Finally, after taking a few photos: "Well, that was a whole lot of nothing." I feel like crying, but then I start to laugh. "Here, take this towel and wipe off your breast--you're free to go." Then, "negative. All negative," he says.

Since last Friday I've been thinking of Kelli Russell Agodon's book Geography. If you haven't read it, you should. Here's a poem from it:

Kelli Russell Agodon

Driving home,
I turn the radio off
and hear heartbeats in the wipers.

Has this always been here?

The weather has turned to showers
and I imagine cancer as a cloud—
reaching down, trying to blend
with earth,
its threadlike veins growing.

You're so young. I'm sure it's nothing.

At certain places
I lose track of sky and hill,
notice the fog between the conifers,
feel its long thin fingers
slipping through window cracks.

Let's just run a few tests.

There are prayers in each raindrop,
glass beads blessing the countryside.
Instead, I think of winter
and its snowstorms, how ice
can snap power lines,
bring a city into darkness.

You do have a family history of it.

Maybe if it wasn't October,
the mail wouldn't arrive
with a line-drawn woman in the right corner
dressed in bright colors, arm above her head
whispering, it might be you.


Maggie May said...

oh....i love, loved that poem. i'm so glad you posted it.

i have endometriosis and at one point there was great concern i had ovarian cancer. an mri was done. the waiting is awful. like most people now i know people with or who had cancer, so it was a reality, not a far off fear.

i'm so glad you are all right. let's keep supporting the fight to find a cure and better treatments for those who don't get such good news.

jeannine said...

All those tests, so stressful, I know. I'm so glad there was good news at the end. Big hugs!

Kelli said...

I am SO glad it was nothing. Good news!

And hey, that poems seems familiar. ;-) Thanks for posting it. I am just so glad you are all right.

Martha Silano said...

Hey gals,

I was very fortunate in that there was very little lag time between the discovery of the "lump", the mammo, and the results. This is unusual, highly unusual, and I am extremely grateful to the UW Women's Center for hearing me out, and for *getting* that I needed to get the mammo asap.

I am "clear" for now, but what of all the women who aren't? It's a bit of a crap shoot, you know? I mean, you exercise, take your fish oil, your Vitamin E and D, blah, blah, blah, but then there are so many things that are completely out of our control.

Peter said...

Glad you are OK! Whew!

Joannie said...

Glad it was clear and that you had the short wait. False alarms are not fun--but so much better than the real ones.

(And thanks for posting Kelli's poem. In that same chapbook, the cancer poems about the Italian tourists and the Noah's ark in the waiting room--two of my favorites.)