Lumpectomy Rhymes with Vasectomy. Must be a Piece of Cake.

by Maggan

in Breast Cancer Research,Emotional Support,Family & Friends,Finding a physician,Health Care,Prognosis

iStock_000005674933XSmall[1]Although the possibility that I may have cancer has loomed for weeks, months if you include the time I wasted after I discovered the lump, my diagnosis takes me by such a surprise that I do not have a single question for the radiologist when she calls and gives me the biopsy result. And she doesn’t tell me what to do. Just hangs up, thrilled to get off the phone so easily, I imagine.

I have done nothing to research breast cancer. I have not sought the advice from anyone. I have not told anyone about the biopsy, other than my two best friends who know as little as I do. My whole strategy has been: It can’t be cancer. No worries.  And yet, this whole time,  I knew deep down there was something wrong.

I swing my chair around to look out over the city from my 16th floor office window.  I watch the steady stream of traffic on the 75/285 interchange.  From Paces Ferry Road a green canopy of trees stretches for miles, and beyond the trees, in the distance, I can see the skyscrapers of Midtown shimmering in the clear, sunny light. I suck on the words “slow growing” and “good prognosis” as if they were bonbons.

Good candidate for lumpectomy? What is that? Just removing the lump? It sounds pretty easy. I can probably deal with that. Lumpectomy rhymes with vasectomy.  It has to be a piece of cake if men voluntarily submit to it. Lumpectomy also rhymes with appendectomy. I had one of those , years back, and barely remember the details.

Then I take out a ruler from my desk drawer and measure 1.5 cm. It does not look all that small. In fact, it looks eerily big. And what if it the lump is 2 cm? That looks even bigger. Two centimeters is ALMOST an inch. Is it really possible they did not see my lump on last year’s mammogram. Or did they forgot to tell me? What about the year before? Or the year before that? Dr. Dork said my cancer is so slow growing I may have had it for a decade. That would mean I have had ten mammograms without anyone discovering my cancer. My heart starts to beat fast and hard.

I am getting pretty angry with the Breast “Care” Center. Why put me through the trouble, expense, and unnecessary radiation of annual mammograms when they have so much trouble seeing what is on the films?

I asked Doctor Dork during my biopsy about the previous year’s mammogram and all she said was: “Oh, we saw something then. But only with 20-20 did we realize what it was when we compared it with this year’s x-rays.” She was unapologetic. Unsentimental. “It is what it is” was the radiologist’s attitude. Last year we didn’t notice a lump and this year we did. No big deal. But the longer I stare at my ruler, the bigger the deal becomes. Clearly, it is better to see a tumor when it is 1 cm, or even better at 0.5 cm.   And what about discovering cancer at an even earlier stage, as micro-calcifications? They noticed  milky streaks inside me before when they turned out to be nothing at all. And now they have not seen a cancerous lump as big as a hazelnut.

Reluctantly, I look down at my right breast.  The lump needs to come out. For that I need a scalpel, and a surgeon to guide it. My watch says 2.30 P.M. When do doctors’ offices close? Four? Five? I have less than a couple of hours to find a surgeon and to make an appointment.

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