I’ve been holding back tears since Wednesday. That’s when depression crept in on the back of fatigue and stress rode shotgun on my pain. I’m tired of cancer, I’m tired of feeling like crap from chemo and surgery, and I’m tired of having my life hijacked by a disease I battled eighteen years ago and never wanted to see again. Furthermore, my surgeon said she’d call with the pathology report — and if she hasn’t called, the news must be bad.
I wait in the exam room, wearing an ugly, depressing gown and clutching a wad of scratchy medical tissues to blot the inevitable tears.
My doctor enters the room. When she tells me the lab results, the stress I’ve been carrying for the past few days pours through my eyes. I stand in the middle of the tiny room and sob
not from sadness
— but from relief and joy. Not a single cancer cell was discernible in any of the tissue samples or lymph nodes. The pathology report took two days longer than expected because pathologists kept dividing, testing and analyzing tissue and lymph nodes, and nothing malignant, not a single cell, was found anywhere.
I’m still not done, but the finish line is closer and brighter.
* * *
Two hours later, I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon. Her eyes widen when she sees my breast.
“That’s a lot of bruising.”
Name a color, any color, and it’s on my breast — everywhere, in technicolor.
Beyond the bruising, I’m healing OK. Still swollen and still in pain, but I’m doing OK.
My husband Les, who accompanies me to every appointment, asks when I can use my arm, when I can life weights in the gym, and when I can do housework.
The doctor looks at me with a conspiratorial smile, then straightens her face to answer Les.
“She can’t lift weights or do housework for at least a month.”
“Told you so.”
Les looks flummoxed and is about to open his mouth, when the surgeon repeats in her most professional voice, “Not for at least a month — especially the housework.”
Score one for the women.