Heres the backstory: About 15 years ago, I had benign lumps removed from both my breasts, and I was supposed to be diligent about following up with my doctor. Certainly I was, for a while. But clean scan followed clean scan, and I got careless.
I didn't get around to the appointment until July. Since April, in quick succession, I had lost a job, an uncle to a stroke, a cousin to cancer, and someone I love dearly to rehab—a secret crack user. I was reeling.
The news, part 1
Twelve days later, I was back for the Mammotome. In this relatively new procedure, a probe is inserted into your breast through a small incision and guided to the suspicious area. Tissue samples are vacuumed out and sent for analysis. Its as much fun as it sounds, which is to say not much.
The chip in my breast
Before I actually got in to see Deborah Axelrod, MD, I had to get through the organized but unhurried intake process at the NYU Clinical Cancer Center in New York City, and then bide my time in a crowded waiting area. Cancer does depressingly brisk business.
I walked into the NYU Clinical Cancer Center at 10:40 on the morning of August 15. When I walked out, I had cancer.
Beam me up
In mid-September, after a follow-up mammogram, consultations with oncologists, an MRI, and an ultrasound, I got “mapped”—my breast was tattooed with four tiny blue dots that marked the path that the beam of radiation would take. As tattoos go, they were a complete disappointment; I had imagined something a little more butch.
Almost 10 months after I finished radiation, my breast still does not look quite the same. Its a little brown, a little pink, in places it wouldnt be naturally.