Monday, December 10, 2007

the luck of the draw

today was my least favorite day of the year. it was mammogram day and though i am still as weak as a kitten from this never ending virus that refuses to leave, i bravely showered, remembered not to put on perfume or deodorant, dressed and drove my self off to the radiologist. dead man walking. though i have absolutely no reason to fear breast cancer - no tiny lumps found during a self exam in the shower - no mother, sister, grandmother or aunt with the disease, i still face this day every year with dread.

i don't know, maybe it is those silly little blue robes they make you wear. after you change into one of those things and you are taken into the waiting room with three or four other blue robed women, you immediately bond. a sisterhood is formed. though names are never exchanged, we all hold our breath as the nurse walks out and calls a name. if a woman is asked to wait - the radiologist wants to talk to her - we all start to reassure her. sometimes total strangers hold hands. sometimes, in this blue robed hell, a strangers touch is all you need to keep from losing it completely.

today i was just not in the mood to have my breasts smashed, hard, between two plexiglas plates. today i did not see any humor in the technician telling me, after she had placed my left breast in a death grip, "don't move", as if i could go anywhere. today i was in no way ready to have breast cancer. i didn't, but the woman sitting next to me did. she was in her forties and minus the blue robe was quite well dressed. she sported a very expensive haircut and an even more expensive purse. large diamond studs adorned each lobe and the size of her wedding ring let one know that she was deeply loved, or at least, well married to a very wealthy man. it didn't matter. the blue robe made us all one. the diamonds and the leather goods could not protect her from the evil little lump growing inside. her eyes filled. i tired to reassure her. they would have to do further tests - it could be nothing. she nodded as though anything i could say at that moment, or for that matter, anyone could say at that moment, would make a difference, and then i took her hand. i just held it and our eyes locked. neither one of spoke. i squeezed her hand and she squeezed back. then the nurse came to take her to the doctor. "thank you" she mouthed as she walked away. "good luck" i mouthed back.

the nurse came out to tell me my test was fine and i could get dressed. in the dressing room i took off the blue robe, threw it in the bin and started to cry. not loud gulping sobs - just the tight throat, dripping tears kind of crying. grateful it wasn't me that the doctor had wanted to see and sad for the woman he had. another year and another bullet dodged. i walked in here not in the mood to have breast cancer and i didn't. i bet that young woman wasn't in the mood to have it either.

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