Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Longest Ten Minutes

I had a second-look mammogram today, after an "area of concern" was noted in the one I had a few weeks ago. I was not particularly worried. We do have breast cancer in our family but I am vigilant with self exams and my doctor had examined me less than three months ago. So while I kept assuring Lefty and my mom and anyone else who would listen that I wasn't worried, I really was not worried.

I was in the darkened room, waiting for the technician when I noticed my shots from three weeks earlier on the computer and there, at the end of a pointy white arrow was what they were worried about, the "area of concern" and to my untrained eye, it looked bad. The spot look distinctly different from the tissue around it. I felt a little sick.

The tech came in and took more shots of my right breast with some specialty plates. In between, when she was changing plates and realigning the machine, I covered my right breast with my hand and tried not to panic. When we were done, she asked me to have a seat and wait for the radiologist, who wanted to talk to me.

I sat down and all the panic I'd been holding at bay by being a good patient came raining down on me.

I sat and then stood up and paced three steps across, back and forth in the tiny room and went through every single worst case scenario I could imagine. I utterly fell apart. I trembled and prayed and had a hot flash. It was the longest friggin' ten minutes of my life.

I have always thought that if something like cancer happened to me I knew what kind of patient I would be, how I would face a diagnosis and treatment. I would be smart, informed, proactive, gracious and kind. In those ten minutes of waiting, ten minutes of wondering and not knowing, I caught a glimpse of how wrong I was to think I'd know how I would react. I was terrified and angry and emotional. I wanted more than anything to run screaming in my blue cotton robe out of the building and never look back. I wanted more than anything to be oblivious – to NOT KNOW whatever it was the radiologist had to tell me. It was irrational. It was crazy.

When the radiologist came in with a big smile on his face I knew I was okay. Two thumbs up, just fine.

I learned a lot about myself in those ten minutes, in the crucible of that tiny room, waiting for an answer that might have turned my life abruptly down a different road.

I'm grateful to be healthy, glad to be here, unapologetically happy about it.


  1. Oh Laura, I'm so relieved for you...

    I don't think anyone can know how they'll react until they stare the possibility right in the face. But really--of course you panicked! I was having trouble breathing just reading this entry...for you to sit there, waiting?

    I'm sending waves of love to you right now--I'm so glad you're okay!

  2. Thank goodness you're OK. I read your blog from time to time and have never commented before, but it was important that I do it this time.


  3. Thanks, Tamara and extra thanks for the comment!

  4. Having been there before, I think I know how you felt. I'm so very glad to hear that all is well.


  5. Jeez, you have had quite a lot happen in a short amount of time. I'm just relieved as I catch up that everything has worked out the way it should!

    Happy 8.5 to The Kid!

  6. "It was crazy."

    This is why I never go in for tests anymore, and that is true crazy. OK, I'll make appointments.