It rolled under my fingertip, hard and smooth like a BB gun pellet. I passed it between my index and middle finger testing its travel. It had an inch radius of free movement. I’m fine…It’s moving….I was frantic in my effort to convince myself which had the opposite effect.
I kept going back to that phone call- when she choked out the words breast cancer. I remember instinctively planting my hand over my chest as if to deflect the words coming at me. I was abandoned by my ability to problem solve in a moment of crisis. My response was an echo of her crying and the words I spluttered out without conviction. “You’re gonna be ok…” but I didn’t know… It wasn’t the cancer that rattled me, it was the powerlessness of not knowing.
That phone call haunted me for weeks. My brain wired it into a synapse and it fired in the space between other thoughts. Cancer, cancer, cancer…Every time I’d hear it, I’d viciously shake my head attempting to vanquish the terrifying incantation. It followed me everywhere, tainting my life with it’s shadow- possessing me with it’s power. Maybe It was a precognition. Maybe I knew I would get it…or maybe I created it…
I used every practice in my metaphysical tool box to exorcise the demon to no avail. I finally succumbed to the only thing I hadn’t tried which was to have it looked at. Being a stubborn alternative health patriot, the idea of getting my breast viscripted between metal plates while exposed to radiation repelled me.
That morning there was a humble determination behind my prayer. I spoke out with sentiment, requesting for a clear sign on how to proceed. It was on the drive down to the gym when the ad appeared in my mind. It was an ad I saw years ago- an image of breasts like mountain peaks in the changing colours of fall. I flashed back to the waiting room at the chiropractor’s office, reading the poster in front of me. It explained Thermography as a non invasive diagnostic tool- using an infrared camera to capture heat patterns in muscular tissues. By analyzing the readings, it can be used to detect temperatures variances to diagnose Breast Cancer.
The secretary at the chiro office recalled that the technician was from Ottawa and seldom came through town. While at the gym, I asked my Acupuncturist friend if she knew of anyone offering Thermography. Surprisingly, she recently received an email about it and promised to forward it to me. After the gym, I went straight to my spa to massage my first client of the day. After the session, I hopped on the computer to find my friends email already in my inbox.
My breath got caught when I opened the attachment. It was the very poster I saw in my mind that morning! I was suspended in space as I read the information that came with it. The very same woman from Ottawa was offering an information seminar about Thermography- in the very hotel that my spa was attached to…that very night.
The Thermograph reading put me at a TH-2, statistically associated with benign disorders. My MD still wanted me to undergo further screening. We agreed on an ultrasound as a safe secondary measure. The ultrasound confirmed that the lump was most likely a benign cyst. The only way to find out for sure was with a needle biopsy which I declined. Two tests results pointing in the same direction was enough to put my mind at ease. I accepted the pellet inside me as non hostile, finally silencing the scary cancer chant.
Fast for forward 1 year later…
My arms were stretched over my head while Al munched on my body. Through the slit of my relaxed eyes, I noticed the speed bump on the contour my breast. “Babe, it’s bigger.”
The cancer anthem started again-amped up with full volume. I finally accepted that it would take a biopsy to put an end to the noise. It was early July- the spa was well into the busy summer months of pampering clients. I booked my appointment after August, Labour Day weekend- strategically planning to deal with the “what if” with the winding down of my spa. In the meantime, I continued to cyclone between my businesses and my home life. Summer went by in a flash and ended with an explosion.
The first call I made was to the spa. Rather than calling Al to shatter together, I held myself together and took care of business. The fact that my instant concern was for my clients should have been the telling tale. I told Front Desk to move my schedule ahead two weeks. I actually believed that I’d sort myself out in no time. Something happened after I hung up- the gravity of my situation revealed the ridiculousness of my action. I’m an optimist at heart but something else was evidently at play. I became the witness and observed what I had done in order to maintain order…I was wired for efficiency. I opened the trap door, shoved down my crisis and nailed the door shut. For the first time in my life, I saw my emergency operating manual and it was fucked up.
LESSON: THERE’S AN INVISIBLE LINE THAT EXISTS BETWEEN OPTIMISM AND SUPPRESSION. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.