When you have had cancer in one breast, the relationship with the remaining breast is scarily ambivalent. It is part of your body but a part that you have lost trust in. It feels like it is an accessory to something sinister or it may turn to the dark side anytime.
Its credibility is pretty much ruined. Keeping it poses a fear, a fear of cancer in the other side.I have had discussions with my breast surgeon about this risk. I was reassured that the risk of cancer in the contra lateral breast in not very high. However, I have been vigilant about my right breast.
A week ago I noticed some swelling in the right breast, a small area near my right arm pit seemed suspiciously swollen.
Cold shivers through my spine and a wave of anxiety went through me. I was convinced it looked different.
Next day I saw my doctor and as expected, earned my self a mammogram and ultrasound for starters. I have already written about the mammography technician and her ” compassion” so I will skip over that part.
The Ultrasound revealed a solid mass which was consistent with a fibroadenoma. Mass in my breast is enough to scare the day lights out of anyone but when you are still not over the betrayal of one breast a mass in the other is enough to push you over the edge.
The very familiar and haunting word, biopsy was mentioned. Yep I am a vodoo doll, stick another needle in me, such is the fate of a cancer survivor. The “lets make sure” thinking was in action.
And I got a date for a biopsy.
Four days later, iodine, alcohol, poking , prodding , squishing, bleeding, ensued. 6 samples were taken and then came the wait.
Wait for the results. The world was moving but I was frozen in time. I looked at my hair that have grown back, I prepared my self to go get it shaved again, I remembered the violent vomiting with AC protocol, the pain post op after the mastectomy, the days of fatigue, the radiation burns.
I could possibly have to do all of it over again. I seriously asked my self, would I be able to? What is the point where a person screams they have had enough? Its not fair!
But such luxuries don’t exist in the life of a cancer survivor, you bow your head to fate and do whatever it takes to live. Giving up body parts is the cost most of us happily embrace.
We are used to losing time to these tests and investigations, a week of paralysis is part of being a cancer survivor.
The biopsy came back as benign but now the thought hurling in my brain , Is there a second mastectomy in my future?
I dodged this bullet but is the war really over?
The Cancer God is looking for another sacrifice, what will I give up now?
“Giving up body parts is the cost most of us happily embrace.” It’s a small bombshell of a thought. Mostly because to be happy to give up a body part speaks to the greater (potential or real) unhappiness of keeping it.
And this gets, in my mind, to the crux of identity. Are we a soul inside a shell that is the sum of our body parts? Tethered within, cocooned and allowed to reside for the duration of life allotted? A piece of the shell lost is a piece of our soul revealed or having to be papered over with other defenses?
Or is the body a receptacle – a vehicle – who’s composition can vary widely without affecting drastically the journey of the soul within?
Aging would give us a kind of answer. We are the same soul we were as children but within radically different vehicles. Our 7year old teeth are no more, thrown out by the violence of the adult teeth below, drawing blood and confirming a ritual essential to growing up.
We are constantly changing, our bones a slow fluid, shape shifting in response to gravity’s demands, our skin shedding and softening.
This is body is how the world knows us, but it is one we ourselves are unconscious of inhabiting. Other than the occasional housekeeping, the vehicular enterprise of walking, running, dancing, loving, eating and kissing – the body can and does radically disappear when we talk of the self.
Such a great post! I shared it on Telling Knots, the 30%, my blog’s Facebook page.