Discover more from Nashville Catholic Writers
Breast Cancer Journey
Mary Margaret Lambert
Not being up on the latest means of communication, I thought a “substack” was something to be ordered at IHOP with a side of bacon or sausage for breakfast. Now here I am, trying to maneuver through this new concept for a very unsteady maiden voyage.
Today, I received very unsettling news about my health. I have breast cancer, and I am numb with shock and disbelief. I have been diligent about my annual mammograms and when I had to return last year for a second time, I was afraid of the outcome. However, all was well, and I rescheduled for February 2023.
In July 2022, I experienced tenderness in my right breast, so I scheduled an appointment with a specialist. She reviewed all my images, did a thorough examination and found no cause for concern. After a prescribed regimen of vitamins and the passage of a few weeks, things improved and I forgot about it.
Fast forward to early February this year when I was again called back following my routine mammogram. (These masochistic tests must have surely been designed by a male!). I underwent a second mammogram and an ultrasound and was shocked when I got a call advising me that a biopsy was needed. I was told that I could drive myself to the procedure, but caring friends would have none of it, so one of them got the short straw and willingly accompanied me to the test.
Having needles injected into your boob is certainly good for a get out of purgatory card in my opinion. After it was over, I was instructed to apply ice packs every thirty minutes for the remainder of that day and take it easy. I followed the instructions exactly and had minimal aftereffects. All was going well, or so I thought.
When the call came from the pathologist, I heard the word “malignant” and experienced nausea and disbelief. The very word itself is nasty. Its definition means “evil in nature, influence, or effect.” If I malign someone, I “utter injuriously misleading or false reports about : speak evil of” that person. I was advised to see a breast surgeon, and am currently awaiting a call back from the nurse navigator to set this up. Apparently, the entire office staff goes for a two-hour lunch every day if I am to believe the automated phone messages heard. I am angry, scared, and trying to let “Jesus take the wheel” and get me though whatever comes next.
My own dear mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-nine, and this brings back a lot of disturbing images better left alone. They diagnosed her with metastatic cancer whose origin was her breast. Always flippant and brutally honest, when the doctor asked her is she was depressed about losing her breast, Mama replied, “Hell no. My breasts are now like Antarctica. Everybody knows where it is, but nobody wants to go there.” The doctor was taken off guard, to say the least. However, when they removed her breast, they learned she had a vicious internal melanoma and the surgical site never would heal. The nurse took me aside and told me to be prepared but not to act shocked when I saw the site. I did as I was told but that image is burned into my memory forever.
I will be posting about my journey because in the hopes that it may help someone else and also because writing is my best means of therapy and dealing with whatever life throws my way. After I threw up and had my pity party, I headed for my computer to write. It’s what I do and the only way I can cope. Please pray for me as I walk on wobbly legs along this bumpy road.
My consolation is the knowledge that I will have my husband, children, grandchildren, family and precious friends to support, love and care for me.