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 thát I do not want.