Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Normal findings


I wrote this six months ago, but I couldn't bear to publish it then. Superstition perhaps? I don't know.
But it's been a year now, and today the findings are still normal. The voice in my head is calmer. I can let it go.



“What are you going to do today?”

And so begins the game.

Twenty questions.

“What was the best day in your life?”

“The day you were born.”



“What was the best Christmas present you ever received?”


“But I was born a week before Christmas.”

“Still counts.”

“What about my brother?”

“What about him?

“What about the day he was born?”

“This isn't a contest. You arrived first.”

Qualifiers …

They frighten me. Always have.

So quickly our favorite holidays turn on us.

It only takes one thing to change the experience forever.

Life's ups balanced by life's downs.

“So … What ARE you going to do today?” She asks again.

She worries about me. I know I don't smile as much as I should.

The corners of my mouth are always pulling in a downward direction.

Sadly, she's never known me to be overly smiley.

I tell her not to worry. I explain what it means to be a "natural frowner." That I don't want to be a frowner … it just happens.

She's taken to just asking me to translate my expressions.

"Are you upset? Angry? Did you stub your toe?"

“No, no. I'm fine. Just have a lot to do today. Have to get started as soon as you get on the bus.”

“So … what ARE you doing today?” she asks again.

“Oh … I'll putter around; walk the dog, feed the cat, clean up the breakfast dishes, finish up some work I've been procrastinating … get a follow-up diagnostic mammogram … and maybe, if there's time and inclination, I'll go shopping. For Christmas presents.”

I didn't tell her that middle thing.

I didn't really want to think of it, either.

When I counted six months forward from the last time -- the time they found possibly suspicious looking calcifications in an area of my left breast … that weren't there nine years ago … before children … before breastfeeding … before I had anything as big as a family to lose – that put the follow-up smack dab in the middle of Christmas.


My husband was nervous, too.

His questions skirted the issue even better than my answers.

“What do you want for Christmas?”

“I really don't want anything.”

“No really? What?”

“The only thing I want is to not have cancer.”

I can't say such things to my kids.

It's Christmas. And they still believe in all the magic it promises.

I tried to go on as usual. I tried to put it out of my mind, but I didn't. I didn't shop, or write cards. I didn't even walk the dog or clean up dishes. 

Instead I sat in a room with a half-dozen other women – all of us dressed in a kimono-style uniform –
one question bouncing around in our heads: “What if I have cancer.”

I don't have cancer.

The woman with my folder smiled when she told me.

I smiled, too. First time all day.

But can't say I felt enormous relief. Not after sitting in a room with women just like me. Only maybe some of theme weren't as lucky.

No comments: