“What’s this?” I think. I’m lying on my bed in my apartment, left arm above my head, suddenly frozen in fear. I feel a plain difference in my left breast compared to my right.
There’s a ball-like formation that I can feel all the way around. It’s not attached to my chest, but is just floating there, in the middle of my breast. I push all suggestions that it’s a lump out of my mind.
Rain rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud.
Three weeks later I think I have a yeast infection. I’ve never had one before, so I’m not sure. I make an appointment at the clinic in town. The doctor examines me, and says no infection, but there’s something else here. You need a mammogram, today. He takes me to radiology. After the mammogram, the radiologist looks at the films and says, you need to see a surgeon, today. No one shows me the films. I wait in an exam room, shivering. This whole afternoon is turning into a nightmare. When I finally see the surgeon, he says, I’m taking that lump out tomorrow morning.
I’m 27, alone. I walked into the clinic with a yeast infection. I walk out with breast cancer.
Down pour on my soul
Splashing in the ocean I’m losing control
Dark sky all around
I can’t feel my feet touching the ground.
I’m angry, so angry, that I was hustled from room to room, never asked if I wanted to call someone, never given a chance to breathe, never given any choices. For the next couple of years, I swallow tears every time I drive past the clinic–it’s a small town and that street is hard to avoid.
My parents tell me; beg me; come home. They don’t wait for me; they come and get me instead.
But if I can’t swim after forty days
And my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I can not fall
Lift me up
My new surgeon shows me the films. He points out a star pattern. It could be scar tissue, perhaps. Have I ever been hit really hard in the chest? No, not that I remember. If this is scar tissue, you’d remember, he replies. He gives me some options.
The lumpectomy confirms every one’s suspicions.