Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Inner Landscape #6-Petrification

-Calcifications/breastcancer.org -

Calcifications are tiny flecks of calcium-like grains of salt-in the soft tissue of the breast that can sometimes indicate the presence of an early breast cancer. Calcifications usually can't be felt, but they appear on a mammogram. Depending on how they're clustered and their shape, size, and number, your doctor may want to do further tests.

Pastel painting, 19 by 19inches.

That night in August I thought it was a dry raisin from breakfast sticking to my pajama top. Realizing it was a hard thing the size of a long rice grain in my breast-exactly where later one of the lesions was found-made my blood rush to my head.

Some of my doctors voiced their utter surprise at finding I had breast cancer (and thereby cancer #2). They certainly hadn’t felt anything lumplike at the physical exam. That had reassured me. The oncologist had sent me off not immediately seeing why a biopsy was advised-on the basis of some calcifications noticed in the mammo/echo-but scheduled one anyway after he had looked at all the images. Maximum surprise impact when at the second consultation he explained the diagnosis. I would have liked it if he had spontaneously said something like “the lab results show that you have cancer in both breasts, I did not expect this at all in your case.” I-not we, the team-I don’t see the team, ever. Simple enough. Didn’t happen. And though I am otherwise extremely appreciative of my oncologist, there lies some (unmentionable, certainly unmentioned) irritation. Maybe I am/was hypersensitive? From that time on I was dealing with 2 cancers. Possibly. Maybe saying something like that would not have fit within the balance between distance and concern for the patient, doctors very understandably need to maintain. Seriously? I don’t know. I do know that if I hold on to this unfixable (bygones) frustration, it will eventually petrify in my inner landscape of memories and experiences. And th├ít I do not want.


Bill Evertson said...

I think that is typical of the medical profession; they work within a system of various 'subcontractors' in the performance of their profession. It may be easier for them to speak of 'team' to separate themselves from bad outcomes.

ria said...

Thx Bill, "separate" is a well chosen word. I think that's what felt/feels cold and as a cancer patient, it's already cold enough...