Baring My Breasts

Sept. 20, 2019

The nitty gritty of what was to come was saved for the specialists. I’m passed between them like a ping pong ball, until a professional consensus of exterminating my lump is formed. 

I’m staring at the peeling skin on his face. It’s dry, flaky and desperate for penetrating moisture. I have just the product for him at my spa…Lumpectomy, Mastectomy, Double Mastectomy, Radiation, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy… his words are passing like clouds in the space of my mind. “Do you have any questions?” he asks. I have to restrain myself from asking about his skin care regime. “Yes, I do. I’d like some time to significantly change my lifestyle before moving forward. Will you support my decision?”.

He is trying to disguise the look of Oh God, here’s another naive idealist… then quickly regains his gentle composure. “If it is an informed choice we can have a discussion, but for now please remove the gown” . Why did he bother telling me to wear one if I’m gonna be taking it right off?

I’m baring my breasts while I stare at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. His long, slender fingers are pressing against the outline of my irregular shaped lump. I can feel my areola shrink and my nipples harden, pulling away from his touch like a snail retreating into its shell. My husband Al, is telling him how brave I’d been despite the shitty card I’ve been dealt. He makes me sound like a superhero even though I don’t have the strategy to destroy my lumpy villain.

The oncologist is compassionate but what he is saying is not getting through to me… It’s not resonating. I need to feel like he’s got the answers, I need to feel some certainty… He digs into my armpit like an excavator. After he dives in a few more times, he discovers another small lump undetected by the CAT Scan. Fuck… “You’ll have to go see the surgeon before we can proceed”.

The next stop is in our neighbouring town to meet a reputable surgeon. Al’s troubled eyes are dead set on the highway, the crease between his brows deeper than usual. He’s driving with one hand on the wheel while the other is cupped over my thigh. I turn on a podcast about how detoxification is the key to healing chronic diseases. His face reflects his aversion to my keen interest in finding another way. “Just listen”, I say. “Are you seriously going to listen to some yahoo on a podcast rather than the professionals in the field of medicine?!”

I erupt into a rant about how Big Pharma wouldn’t exist if money was put into researching and building stats around natural cures for Cancer. “The whole medical monopoly would crumble if they backed nature and explored human potential!” I’m shouting because I need to believe in what I’m saying.

For 19 years, Al and I have always been on the same team facing challenges as a united front. For the first time, I’m seeing him on the other side of the field. Is this it? Is Cancer gonna be the deal breaker for us?


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