One of the nice things about having breast cancer is that for the rest of your life you visit your oncologist every year. Sort of like having a “cancer-stalking ninja” sitting on your shoulder. During my annual mammogram two weeks ago, an ‘area of concern’ was spotted in my right tit*. Biopsy was recommended.

It wasn’t a tumor, just a cluster of microcalcifications.  These are normally scattered throughout the breast and are of no concern unless they cluster.  Even if clustered, they are usually just indicative of pre-cancerous cellular abnormalities, and generally don’t evolve into invasive cancer.

Bottom line?  It was no big deal.  Even if it was bad, it wasn’t bad. 

So the biopsy was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.  Both of my children, and the two friends i told about it, offered to drive me to the appointment, but i declined.  Hopped in the jeep after lunch and drove myself to the hospital.  No big deal.  Local anesthetic is used for a stereotactic biopsy, and there is no concern about driving post-procedure. 

The stereotactic biopsy is the first approach attempted in such a case.  When the little nuggets are that small, sometimes a wire-localization surgical biopsy is required.  More extensive, still local anaesthetic, and good to avoid if possible.

Joking with the medical staff, i reminded them that these are the Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins we’re dealing with… The objective was to get something for pathology without mashing it into a thumbless mitten…  Given the size and location of the clump, the doc wasn’t sure he’d be able to get it.  The staff prepared me for several attempts, and said it might take an hour to just find it.  It took a full 90 minutes of x-ray imaging before the doc could do the core biopsy. 

That’d be 90 minutes with me lying face down on a hard table, tit through a hole, and strategically crushed between two plates.  While not painful, it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  “Don’t move!”  Right.  i stayed as still as i could.  The doctor, knowing that i was getting stiff, reached up to reassure me, placing his hand squarely on my left ass cheek.  Not sure he realized it… but i still didn’t move**.  Given that the doc was pretty sure we’d have to go back for a wire-localization, i was relieved that he was able to get a sample for pathology.

The doctor and staff said that i had been an ideal patient.  Relaxed, flexible and tolerant – with a fairly high threshold for discomfort.  Otherwise, they said, they’d have referred me for the wire-localized surgical biopsy.

When it was over, i wandered back out the the parking lot*** on a gorgeous autumn day, sucking in the fresh humidity-free air and drinking in the high-pressure blue sky.  Hopped back in my jeep. 

“i am one badass motherfucker” was the random thought that popped into my head…

When i went through the process almost three years ago, i went to all of my appointments and procedures alone.  With the random thought that flashed in my head, i finally realized why i do it this way.  It provides the illusion of power and control.  It makes me feel strong. 

The reality?  i was just as scared on that table as any other human being.  Even though my rational mind knew it wouldn’t be bad, it’s fucking scary.  So i rationalize it into a nice corner, tell myself i’m strong and in control of things and that i’m a badass motherfucker.

Always comes back to that amazing quote, uttered by Jeff Goldblum in “The Big Chill”:

Sam Weber: Nothing’s more important than sex!
Michael: Oh yeah, have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Got the call from my oncologist last night with good news:  negative.  So no further need for cutting or cooking my perky and healthy right tit.

Once again, i want to remind all of you ladies to get your mammograms.  The microcalcifications are the size of a grain of salt, and they are distinctly visible on a digital mammogram.  Isn’t that amazing?  Sometimes they can see the fucking cancer BEFORE it’s cancer.  Yeah, it hurts to put your tit in a vise once a year.  So what? 

Excuses are like assholes – everyone’s got one.  Just go do it.


* Pardon the medical jargon…  i’m a self-taught professional.

** Had he been anywhere near as hot as the orthopaedic surgeon who did my knee surgery, i might have jumped him…

*** i got dressed first…

26 thoughts on “Towanda!

  1. Dude, I spent that week convincing myself I had liver cancer and I was okay. I cannot imagine hearing I actually had cancer.

    So, yes. You are brave. The way things work is you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and then you get the courage after. Which you knew already, I just like putting it like that.

  2. *** i got dressed first…

    Now what’d you have to go ruin it for…i was already halfway down that “proper use of a jeep” fantasy when you changed it on me! woo-hoo!!

  3. Now I need to write up a cancer prevention PSA starring Ninja Vicki as the cancer-stalking ninja oncologist. I think it would end with Vicki saying “Get a check-up every year or I’ll cut your fucking tits off.”

  4. Hey good news for you and your, as you put it ‘perky and healthy right tit’…

    Sounds painful though I’m glad the check for the old love spuds isnt the same as it is for the funbags… hows that for medical jargon?

  5. “are one badass motherfucker”.. I can’t imanging laying there for that long. when I had my first mammogram done it was quite the experience. Seems like I talked to the “girls” for days to reassure them that all was all right.

  6. I’ve yet to have one- still nursing, but I’ll check again whether that would still exclude me for the meantime. Excellent insight about independence, bravery and control. Sigh.

    Say, if he was working on your right tit, how did he reach your left ass-cheek? (or do I not want to know?) 😉

  7. rassles – we all manage it differently. you seem to prepare for the worst and then can find yourself delightfully surprised if everything works out well. i sort of do that… but mostly i FAKE being unafraid.

    gnukid – well, it’s got a fiberglass tub, with drain holes in it. can be easily hosed down for maintenance…

    renalfailure – i like it. this may be the most effective PSA ever. especially if there are a few cases where she actually follows through. you know, as a warning to others…

    nursemyra – thanks, hotstuff. have you scheduled yours yet?

    BLT – this time wasn’t so bad. but yeah. i’m pretty sure you get it…

    UK – “MamboJamboGrams”. i like that. have you trademarked it?

    unbearable banishment – no, it really is faking it. i’m just a big fat pussy… with an attitude. opening night went ok. full house, lots of laughs, only a few minor quirks (and no, The Diva still can’t fucking dance, and is incapable of not upstaging the rest of the cast)

    Bb – thanks. The Baps still rock. Nice to be able to go braless at 47 years old. Without dusting the floor…

    alex – you’re making me hot with all that medical jargon… a finger up the ass probably isn’t quite as bad as the mash ‘n poke…

    hisqueen – you could do it if you had to. i think we’re all capable of enduring more than we imagine…

    tigereyesal – not sure about the nursing thing. suspect you’d have to wait. i was face down on the table, right tit through a hole, left tit mashed underneath me. he was to my left, shooting the biopsy needle into right tit from underneath the table (they raise the table so he can sit comfortably underneath). So he was reaching above his head and (i think) attempting to pat my leg… it was funny… i still don’t think he realized he did the ass grab!

  8. Glad to hear everything’s okay. I have never had a mammogram, but do check myself. I think they don’t recommend them here until you’re over 50 or something, whereas they’re really vigilant about screening for cervical cancer from the age of 20.

  9. oh daisyfae, i’m glad that it’s all worked out ok. it’s amazing the way we can get ourselves through things, and not really let the terror sink in until afterwards. good on you.

  10. cat – seems to me that 50 is a good time, so long as there’s no history in the family. i think all this medical crap is just a glimpse into my future. steeling myself for more to come…

    littlefish – if you pretend that you’re a tough guy long enough? you become one…

    chris – nice vonnegut reference! “Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.” yep. my bravado is one big pack of smelly foma…

    stephanie – it’s not. easier and less smelly than a colonoscopy for sure…

    manuel – i’m lucky. no doubt…

  11. Glad all is well – you are badass and all the b’s… brainy, beautiful, brave, etc.

    And at least you got a little felt up on the ass by the doc… sweet. I love those awkward moments.

  12. silverstar – the illusion of ‘badass motherfucker’ sustains me. don’t want to disappoint…

    michael – not a saint. not by a longshot. just lucky and generally fairly practical. but just as scared as the next guy….

    amber – thank you! and the ass grope was sheer joy… i’d have laughed loudly, but was at one of those “ok, don’t move…” points in the process…

  13. i can only imagine the thought of testicular cancer being such a grueling experience. all it takes are some experienced hands that can juggle. glad to hear about your health, may it continue, with humour and honesty.

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