Until a few days ago, B. C. had the same meaning for me as for the rest of the world. Not anymore. Now it means just one thing.
A few weeks ago, I was actually looking forward to my annual mammogram and ultrasound. Every year, I do the same thing – a quick trip to the radiology center, followed by a long shopping trip to celebrate my good health at Saks. It has been my pattern for twenty years. But that was B.C.
This time, four tiny little pinpoints showed up. They look like someone took a Sharpie and made a dot in four places on my right breast. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have noticed them if they hadn’t been pointed out. Yet, they are really there.
“The good news is, if anything you are at Stage Zero. There is a 90% probability these are just calcifications,” the Doctor said nonchalantly.
I was stunned. My heart stopped. No one in my family has ever had cancer. Not ever. We don’t have heart disease. We don’t have strokes. We don’t have anything much except suicide. My father and my sister both succumbed to that fatal family flaw. The rest of us keep watching each other for signs of mental instability. Who will be next? Not me. If anything, I suffer from terminal cheerfulness. My shrink used to tell me to stop smiling so much. Now that I have entered the age of wrinkles and smile lines, I wish I had listened.
Anyway, now I needed something called a stereotactic biopsy to find out if these dots are cancerous. A tiny needle filled with a local anesthetic is inserted into the breast and when the breast is numb, the real fun begins. According to the doctors I spoke to in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and California, this procedure is fast and simple. Most women have no trouble with it. However, I am not like most women. I have a fear of needles and want a doctor who will put me into a twilight sleep. Several surgeons say I can be put under but surgery is too invasive for a small procedure like this.
Finally, I agree to do what everyone suggests and take a Xanax first. No problem, except, I never take drugs. I haven’t since I became a responsible adult at about 30. Anything in my system wipes me out. One little Xanax and I do not remember the ‘procedure’ or even the day it took place. I do remember wearing a new pair of five inch Jimmy Choos since I always dress for success.
Those four little dots turned out to be DCIS. Ductal carcinoma in situ. The earliest form of breast cancer, non-invasive, slow growing. Great result as bad results go. I wish I could go back to 2010 B.C. But no one can go back in time.