When I was a cheerleader in high school we did a cheer about dynamite that ended with us yelling, “tick, tick, tick, tick… BOOM!”. Well, that’s what yesterday felt like. Since receiving the positive result of my BRCA test, I’ve felt like a ticking time bomb. Maybe I’ve felt that way my whole life, but the imminence has intensified upon scientific confirmation of my sneaking suspicion. I will probably get breast cancer.
The first part of my mammogram went smoothly. Boob on vice, flattened like chicken paillard, sweet release. I sat in the little hallway while the tech and the radiologist studied my images. Not even five minutes later, the tech called me back into the room and said, “we found something behind your right nipple. It only came up on one view, which is good, but I have to take more images.”. For some reason that didn’t totally freak me out. Looking on the screen at the white spot she identified raised my anxiety only slightly because shortly after that she was cranking down a little platform onto my nipple. Remember I said before that mammograms don’t hurt when your boobs are naturally like pancakes? Not so much at the nipple. Wowza! (helpful hint: never get a mammogram days before your period, if you can help it, makes things a little more uncomfortable and perhaps harder to read).
After the medieval torture had subsided, I sat down again in the little waiting area. I tried to watch the tv displaying relaxing images and distract an anxious old lady next to me (and myself) by asking her where she thought that beautiful photograph was taken. Before I could even ask her if it looked like Ireland (old people know/love to think they know everything), the tech came back out and said, “follow me”. It felt like being summoned to the principal’s office (not that that ever happened to me, Mom). It did not look promising for me. All I could think was, “well there you have it, you missed your golden opportunity. You waited too long. Now you’ve actually got cancer and have to do everything you wanted to avoid. Why did you wait?”. She must have seen the terror and remorse in my expression because she quickly said, “you’re fine. You can get dressed. The spot disappeared after I pressed down on it”. (cue the floodgates, sprung wide open from relief).
This was one of the scariest moments. This was also one of the most affirming times in my life. It sucked, but it was perfect. I now have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the double mastectomy is completely necessary. It is not a choice anymore. I never want to face that again. I’m done waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for my bad news, waiting to hear ‘you’ve got breast cancer’. I’m changing the ending. I’m defusing the bomb. Tick, tick, tick, tick… Shhhhhhh.

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