The Biopsy Does Not Look Promising

by Maggan

in Biopsy,Diagnosis


Three people assist with the ultrasound biopsy in a dark, windowless room. How depressing to toil down there all day, glaring at a grainy screens, lathering up lumpy breasts with gel, trying to find what the patient does not want them to find: carcinoma. Suddenly I feel sorry for everyone in that room but me. I will be out of there shortly, but the staff will stay in their dark tomb of their choosing, day in and day out, for years.

The nurse is big-boned and has blond, cotton candy hair. She chats about cost of air-line tickets and the horror of summer travel. I make some joke. She laughs.

Then I joke about how the gel around my boob reminds me of Ghostbusters. The room is quiet. Nobody laughs. Maybe they are all too young to remember Ghostbusters. Maybe they have heard it a thousand times before.

A black ultrasound technician hovers behind the radiologist and blends in with the shadows. The female radiologist, 40ish and slender, is all business with her brisk clinical manner, has no words other than instructions for the tech.

The physician cleans my breast and inserts a needle. The prick does not hurt. The breast numbs up right away. Large knitting needles are inserted in different places. But not where the lump is. It is the lump I am worried about.

I turn my head to glance at the monitor where an asymmetrical shape fills the screen. Doctor R or D, whoever she is, drags the mouse and creates lines diagonally and crosswise and lengthwise: Measuring.

It does not look promising. My heart beats faster. The atmosphere in the dark cool room: the tacit doctor, the skulking tech, and the nervously chatty big-boned nurse. It all amounts to: NO GOOD NEWS.

“It is cancer!” I want to scream. “Tell me the truth!” But I know they will deny it, say something bland and insipid. Any attempt by the staff to minimize or gloss over what I just saw on the screen will scare me more than cold facts later.

Afterwards, I quickly escape into the fresh air of the June day. I am free with my lump. The staff is still trapped down in their basement.  Statistically, I realize, I have at the most 30 years left on earth, no matter what the lump in my breast might be. The thought is comforting and a little scary at the same time.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

JMartin June 20, 2009 at 12:10 am

Jesus. Knowing this to be past tense isn’t preventing your writing from causing hyperventilation.

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