A phone call

The call comes at the end of the day, from the nice nurse who kept me from screaming during my MRI.

“They saw some things in your right breast, ” she says.

I don’t hear much after that.

“I know you’re moving, and I tried to get you all the appointments in one day, but it was impossible,” the nurse is saying. “I told them we have to get these tests ASAP.”

Through the buzzing in my ears, I try to speak. I think I’m sounding brave. I don’t know. The nurse is SO nice. I have no idea what’s she’s saying.

More tests next week: A mammogram and ultrasound the morning of Tuesday, August 3. Then an MRI-guided biopsy on Wednesday, August 4. Yes, a doctor will do the biopsy, a radiologist. He’ll do it by hand. You’ll be in and out of the MRI, a few minutes each time. They saw some sort of mass. She’s says it’s a good sort of mass, or -toma something, but what, I don’t hear. She says it’s good they said it was a good mass, right on the report.  I guess I’ll need to ask for a copy of the report later.

I thank her. I think I thank her. Then I hang up. Then I cry.

I felt so triumphant for surviving the MRI. In breast cancer, it seems, you surmount one hurdle. Then you face another. This is only the beginning. How can this only be the beginning? It seems like it’s been going on forever.


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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