When the doctor told me I had a mass in my left breast, I wasn’t surprised. Matter of fact, I knew it and not because I could feel it, either. It was just my sixth sense: for whatever reason, my inner voice had been gnawing at me for weeks to get a mammogram. I was just a few months past my yearly exam when I got the news.
I stared at the doctor blankly and asked her to repeat what she had just said. She was so young, I was convinced she had made a mistake and asked to see the name on the medical chart. She showed me without hesitation and there it was, printed out clearly and neatly at the top of the file: Shireen Cheney-Sandoval.
I swallowed hard and looked away as she repeated the news. I had always been incredibly religious about my yearly exam (despite being what many doctors had deemed too young for a yearly mammogram and sonogram.) I didn’t care, though; I did it because of my family history: both my grandmother and great grandmother on my mother’s side had died of breast cancer.
Prompting me to do extra due diligence: the memory of watching my grandmother suffer beyond comprehension. Cancer completely ravaged her, robbing her of her beauty, wreaking havoc on her brain and destroying her body. She died in my mother’s arms like a weak, helpless child. My eyes water and my chest tightens at the memory. Her death became my catalyst in the fight against cancer, which for me has always been a healthy dose of prevention.
Earlier that morning before getting my exam, anything and everything that could go wrong did. Traffic was horrible, I was tired and wasn’t in the mood to be squeezed and felt up. On top of my late arrival, my mammogram prescription wasn’t received by Mount Siani, despite my Primary Care physician faxing it several times the week prior. For whatever reason, when the hospital and doctor’s office tried reconnecting again, the prescription wouldn’t go through. They faxed it TWELVE times.
For the most part, I sat patiently and waited, but after about two hours I finally got up to walk out. I couldn’t believe how quickly the day was passing: I still had to pick up some television wardrobe, get my hair done and get to work to prepare for Deco Drive. Just as my feet were about to hit the automatic door, though, I paused and reconsidered. I took a deep breath, backed away from the door and decided to buy a coffee instead. Then, I went back into the waiting room…
A painstaking thirty minutes later, I was cleared to have both exams. If I hadn’t waited, if I had indeed walked out and ignored my inner voice, I never would have heard the shocking news. I tried asking the doctor clearheaded, information-extracting questions when she told me abut the mass, but I was so freaked out and overwhelmed, having a proper thought was almost impossible. Making matters worse, I was alone.
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