The February night is moonless, black, as you turn your head to the left and gaze out the second-story window. The limbs and leafless branches of the huge maple tree just outside are like cold, barren, groping arms, sinister in the streetlamp’s dim glow. Lying flat on your back in bed, each arm is propped up on a large pillow. Except for your elevated arms, you are nestled like a caterpillar in a cocoon. You would think this should make you feel safe and secure. You would think. Where did they put your breasts? Were they tossed in with pieces of kidneys, livers, and gallbladders, like a giant Cobb salad, to finally co-mingle as a giant heap of ash at the bottom of a massive incinerator? Are pieces of them floating idly in a formaldehyde-filled jar on a pathologist’s laboratory shelf? Seems all the doctors—and there have been many—have admonished you to keep your stress level down. You wonder if at some point one of them implanted an anxiety barometer inside you, with an alarm to go off to alert you if the level goes astray. The alarm goes off in you now as little prickles, like inside-out goosebumps, start to invade your chest and arms, followed by an intense heat, beginning in your face and exploding throughout your body. You try to pray.
What are the odds of recurrence? You try to remember the statistics, but you know those are just numbers. You did all you could so it won’t return. But will it? In a few years, you’ll have to make a choice whether to continue taking, for five more years, the medication that is already decreasing your bone density and elevating your cholesterol level. It lessens the chance of it returning, but should you say enough already because of the side effects?
You bend your legs up and down, one at a time, sliding your feet along the soft cotton sheet, wondering how long it will be before you can curl up on your side again. Did some rogue cell make it into your bloodstream before the biopsy? You never seriously thought in the past that you wouldn’t participate in new chapters of your son’s life…marriage, fatherhood, grannyhood on your part. Will it return? You stare up at the ceiling, teeth clenched. Read More