Three long weeks

Five weeks ago, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist. My right ankle was still sore following a bad fall in Brittany, a couple of months earlier. It didn’t take him long to find out why. I had broken my malleolus hence the discomfort. He marveled at my resistance to pain which made me laugh. Really.

I probably reminded him that I had been through a lot of physical pain those past ten years because I mentioned that my next check-up was coming up two weeks later.

“It’s only once a year now, I imagine,” he said. Well, not exactly. “Still every three months.”

It all started two weeks ago. It was “the-only-genuine-breast” checking time. We usually start right away with a MRI but not this time... I really don’t know why since I didn’t care this much and never got to ask the oncologist, three months ago, why and why not... It was so much more exciting to talk about Popeye’s new boat and taking pictures than to ask questions about a check-up that is turning so much into a routine after all.

Instead of following orders, I decided to scrap the mammography and to go directly for the echograph... probably because it is totally painless and allows me to have a nice chat with my dear radiologist...

I meet M. all the time at the hospital but it is one thing exchanging a few words in a corridor and a totally different one having a heart-to-heart talk during and after the echograph in a nice sort of cozy room. You see, my radiologist and me, we have been through so much together for so many years that we do have heart-to-heart talks!

I know enjoying echograph time probably sounds really strange but I guess I have grown so used to feeling good that I do forget from time to time that cancer can come back anytime.

The echograph went very well. Everything looked just fine. We amiably shared stories and good laughs. But M. is a radiologist and so he said: “I’d like you to have a MRI done though just to be on a real safe side, you know. And you really should have a mammography too.”

No problem even if MRI are not my preferred moments because of the very delicate blood vessels in my left arm. I hate it when the vein ruptures right in the middle of the MRI and they have to start all over again, preferably sticking the new needle in my ankle or my foot.
Oh well. This does not happen every time...

Actually, the most painful moment is waiting for the results... for quite a long time, seems like. Then you get to talk with the radiologist who will come up with a smile on his friendly face or who will look really worried if... He has been smiling every time for the past five years,

Not this time though.

“I am so sorry but a lump lighted up. It is 1 cm in diameter. I did not see it during the echograph. I’d like you to have a mammography done as soon as possible and then I’ll double check with a new echograph.”

The bubble I had been living in ever since this weird miracle happened five years ago when all cancer cells suddenly disappeared from my body, leaving only one scar in my right lung... besides... oh well, this bubble exploded right away.

“Don’t worry,” said M. very reassuringly. “It looks more like a cyst than like a tumor.”

But I have been there twice already so I almost collapsed. I would have broken down if Popeye had not been with me.

M. wanted me to have the mammography done two days later but we really had a very important appointment in Brussels with our mean landlady so we agreed on doing it yesterday.

Mammography and echograph.

Popeye would be stuck at work but M. said that he’d know how to take care of me if things were really bad. (Which is so true!) Besides the fact that Popeye would be working a mere ten minutes away from the hospital so I said I’d manage very well on my own, thank you.

Usually, a check-up only lasts a couple of days. We were getting close to week #3.

I’d go to sleep at night and then I’d wake up as if someone had punched me very hard. I’d gasp. “This can’t be happening. Not again.”

I did not cry nor felt sorry for myself though. I was too busy balancing my near future if... Would I agree to go for a third chemo? Knowing very well that if cancer was coming back, I probably wouldn’t stand a chance to be alive in December.
My shrink kept telling me that I was a fighter. Had I not been several times at death’s door and had I not survived against all prognoses? Good point! But I kept waking up in the middle of the night and totally loosing my sense of humor.

Gone were the days where I could answer with a smirk to: “What sign are you born under?”
“Not for me!”

So today was mammography time. Before getting to the X-ray department though, I went to the lab department where my blood tests results were waiting for me.

The girl handed out the envelop to me while having a good laugh with her colleagues for some unknown reason. I remember feeling quite upset. How could she be so heartless? Twisted mind, I know.

I slumped on the closest chair and opened the envelop. I’m pretty good at reading my cancer markers... especially when they look so normal! So normal even though there is a 1 cm growth in my left breast. So... So...

M. did not comment on my smiling face. He smiled back.. Mammography was over in a few minutes. He had told the technician to take three images. Only three! Thank you, M.

As soon as they were developed, I was taken to one of the echograph rooms where M. was waiting for me. Yes, the mammography was showing the growth (and nothing else - nothing bad that is.)

Actually, they were getting worried about micro calcifications which can turn out to be cancerous, the way it had happened in 2005... and only detectable with a basic mammography.

He started looking for the cyst which he found at last! Thanks to the MRI measurements...

He is such an excellent radiologist that he was really upset he had missed it during the first echograph. (i.e. Saving me and all of us so much worry and stress!)

I like the guy. He was genuinely cross at himself... I had to joke about it. He laughed and all was well after all.

Of course, now there will be a mandatory echograph every three months no matter which part of my body is checked up at the time. That is - until the cyst melts away which I am pretty sure it will.

A mandatory echograph every three months, he said. Wow. Great! We’ll have more heart-to-heart talks over and over again!

Wait. I am being totally crazy there. As early as tonight, I shall start willing this cyst away! And away it will go. Eventually.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*