Whoa. Where did that come from? My last mammogram was nine months ago and I do self breast exams, although not as regularly or as thoroughly as I should. So I was stunned that the lump in my left breast wasn't pea-sized, as I would have expected, but as big as a bambucha marble.
I don't know if men feel the same way about their prostates that many women feel about their breasts — that we are harboring within our bodies a ticking time-bomb. We all know at least a dozen mothers, sisters, aunties, friends and co-workers who have been stricken with breast cancer. Some survived, others didn't.
Finding that lump felt like a betrayal. These breasts that have been such a large part of my life and my identity, that helped me express my political views in the '70s, attract a mate and made my clothes fit, and at their highest calling nurtured my two children, how could they now be the death of me?
First thing, I called Kaiser and got an appointment for the next day. After a morning exam I was scheduled for a mammogram later in the afternoon. That left me with six hours to contemplate my life and possible death.
Now, journalists as a group aren't necessarily pessimistic; it's just that some of us tend to dwell on the morbid. So, in those intervening hours between clinic visits, as I tried to go about my work, I began planning my funeral.
I also tried to picture myself bald, although I always thought I looked rather stylish in hats. I wondered if I could qualify for a medical marijuana permit. I took mental inventory of my valuables and how they should be distributed. I debated who should help with the kids, because my husband surely wouldn't be able to cope.
I got a little weepy thinking about my darling 12-year-old son, who by the way was nourished through his first year by these very same breasts that seem to have turned on me. He's a rough-and-tumble kid, a boy's boy who still wants to be tucked in at night by his mommy.
I began composing my obituary. I thought about contacting the producers of "Lost" to see if they would let me know what's up with that ka-razy island if I swore to take its secrets with me to the grave.
And, as with most of my misadventures, I consoled myself with the knowledge I could at least get a column out of the experience.
The afternoon mammogram showed no sign of cancer. The lump was most likely a cyst — in fact, a cluster of cysts — but a sonogram and minor surgery that left an ugly, dense scar and numbness were needed to put the matter to rest.
After receiving the good news, dread gave way to relief, and I turned my attention to making deadline and wondering what to cook for dinner and if we could expect beach weather for the weekend — all the details of a mundane life.
A precious, wonderful, miraculous mundane life.
Reach Christie Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.