April 1st I got a mammogram. I’ve been getting them for seven years now. Every year I am grateful for good results, considering how breast cancer has ravaged my family.
This year, April melted into a slow parade of doctor’s appointments, highlighted by a stereotactic biopsy, which goes down in my personal history as my weirdest medical procedure yet. The biopsy came back ER (estrogen receptor) and PR (progesterone receptor) positive, Stage 0 (Zero). In other terms, it’s like getting assigned a 5K while most other people diagnosed with breast cancer have to run an entire marathon whether they are prepared for it or not.
Breast cancer is one family badge I didn’t want, not that anyone ever wants it. I was tested last week for the BRCA gene, which will give a clearer picture about the road of treatment I need to travel. As all this unfolds, people will see that this is a complete, life-changing event, one I hope I can weather with grace and courage rather than fear and misery.
I feel like the trajectory of my life has been forever altered, either knocked sideways by a pair of pink boulders or a breeze from a pair of pink butterfly wings. Only time will tell which. God will have to show me the meaning in all this, because right now, I’m still on autopilot, numbed by the shock. I have breast cancer.
I’ve rather hated the color pink my entire life. Yes, my mother bought me pink clothes as much as possible, but I had a deep dislike for pink. Pink meant “all girl.” I was almost sad when the color that represented the fight against breast cancer was pink (though I totally get why it is). Now, suddenly, find myself at the Susan G. Komen website looking at endless pages of items made in pink. Suddenly, I don’t mind pink so much (though truthfully, I don’t wear pink well, but maybe some pink accessories?).
Still, I know, I’ve witnessed the real warriors in pink: some who get a much, much, much worse diagnosis and live to tell the tale or fight like hell until they can’t fight anymore. I arrive on the radar at Stage 0. I won’t even have to walk through the hell that is chemotherapy. I get to go through the purgatory of radiation only instead. I get to keep my hair. I get to live on. I have breast cancer, but I’m not going to die – not now, and not for a long time if I have anything to say about it.
I have surgery Tuesday morning to remove tissue to make sure all of the cancer has been removed, then the carousel moves onward to radiation therapy and whatever else they throw at me to reduce the risk of this horrible disease ever coming back.