I’ve been inducted into a club. Wish I could say it was Publisher’s Clearinghouse or Book of the Month. It all started with a “finding” on my yearly mammogram and a call back to take a closer look.
My breast defied physics and allowed itself to be mashed to about an inch thick and the closer look triggered a needle biopsy. I took a look at the digital shot of my nemesis. I have micro calcifications…scientific jargon for “your tits are getting up there old girl”.
Ordinarily these teeny tiny dots are observed unless they decide to dance together. Mine chose to do so…and here is a Cynthia irony…in the shape of a miniature Nike swoosh.
CBS (Dr. Clarinda Burton-Shannon) is my gynecologist. She is also my dear friend. I like to say she knows me inside out and loves me anyway. She tolerates my “crazy” and has been entertained many times with my learned medical opinions. After all, I did graduate with honors from WebMD.
She sent me to the doctor she would go to, and this one has real credentials…I know…because I checked them out, especially when I found out the doctor’s name is Robin Williams…
Dr. Robin Williams turned out to be a gorgeous woman with a wide smile and a cool quiet confidence. She performed my needle biopsy, which was no worse than getting a Botox injection…not that I have any experience with that…
A few days later I found myself sitting in one of those medical “gowns” wishing I had my Bedazzler…and the door opened and Doc Robin walked in and quietly told me that I have breast cancer. It is small and low grade…but there is no getting around it. It is what it is.
The air went out of the room and I looked at a face in a poster on the wall of breast cancer club members and thought…wow…I’m one of them now. I need to remember to smile.
That day was long and slow. I laid awake that night staring at the ceiling. It is a lonely place to be. There is no “why me” or “poor me”…that’s a silly waste of time. In truth, I have had a wonderfully chaotic privileged life. And while I can’t always say I love all the roads I go down…I really wouldn’t go back and miss a step of it.
I have laughed harder and loved harder and lived harder than most. Best of all…there’s the exquisitely aching privilege of having the two best children on the face of the earth…yep…sorry all you wishful wannabe’s…I’ve got them.
And because I intend on exercising the Mom Principle…getting to embarrass, annoy and irritate them until we’re all hard of hearing and wearing bottle thick glasses…I’ve decided to confront the situation the way I do with most things that get in my way. I am running at it hard and fast…and getting it gone.
I am lucky. From all appearances, including an MRI, it is a Stage 1 cancer. Of course the pathology after surgery and the Sentinel node biopsy will be the bottom line.
In a “take no prisoners” approach…I am having a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I am comfortable with the knowledge that, though there is no guarantee it won’t come back, I will have eliminated a lot of the playing field. And I’m getting a boob job.
When I met with the plastic surgeon…Dr. Roosevelt Peebles of Phase4 Plastic Surgery, he asked me if I was going for a mature look or a youthful look. I said, “Seriously? Come on now…I’m single…let’s make some lemonade. I want the tits I had when I was 25.”
He told Michele…his surgical right hand…to mark in my chart that I probably won’t listen to instructions. He totally gets me. It didn’t hurt either when he told me I was TOO THIN for him to use any of my stomach tissue for reconstruction. Now I’m too thin? Now? My timing has always had an uneven beat.
They are a wonderfully confident addition to my team and I could not have chosen wiser…though I drew the line at the press on nipples…I’m pretty sure that would be cause for permanent erectile dysfunction. Picture my Prince Charming finally showing up and pulling one of those babies off in the heat of the moment. Deal breaker…hands down.
Or worse..I could be out running around the track and having one of the little accessories pulling loose and ending up stuck to my neck.
I’ve told my doctors that I’ve named the cancer Karen W. after the woman my ex-husband left me for years ago. Even he thought it was funny. Karen W. is getting evicted on Monday…exit only…one way out…no return.
I wanted to have a photograph taken before my surgery and asked Nancy Lee Andrews to do me the favor. Besides being a well known and extraordinary celebrity photographer…she has walked barefoot a few miles herself on unpaved streets and knows how to find the beauty in ugliness and confidence in the face of fear. She is a friend that I came to know in the past few years. Sometimes the best things happen later on in the game.
I find hilarious irony in the fact that she is the last person who saw my tits the way they were. Ain’t that a kick in the pants. I’ve really got to work on my love life. Hey..my abs looked great.
Tomorrow morning when I enter the arena and raise my sword, I am doing so with the knowledge that I have an army in front of me, beside me, and behind me. I feel all the power and love and confidence that everyone is sending my way and it is giving me strength and courage. My surgical team is phenomenal. I am in good hands.
By the time many of you read this, I will be awake and cancer-free. I intend to be a total pain in the butt and very demanding…in fact, I’ve heard talk that the Queen may be sending a tiara…hey…I’ve got friends in high places.
Crossing everything that this is just a blip on my radar…praying that you ask your mother or your daughter or your sister or your aunt or your neighbor or your friend if they’ve had their yearly mammogram. I am proof of just how important they are.
Day Two Hundred and Thirty Six…today is the best day…tomorrow will be even better.