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Yes, the Good News turned out to be Bad, and not the Michael-Jackson-when-he-was-cool kind of Bad. As my heart palpitated like never before, in a steady voice, Kristi insisted that I stop taking my “natural” hormones, adding “Most breast cancer is estrogen receptive, and we don’t want to take any chances.” Then she suggested I make an appointment for surgery immediately, apologizing again for being the bearer of bad tidings via the unemotional telephone. “We won’t really know what we’re dealing with until we get in there,” she said like a pro, “I’ll have to take a few lymph nodes under your right arm to see if the cancer has spread.” To see if the cancer has spread. That may have been the scariest notion my hippie brain has ever had to contemplate.

No matter what earth-shaking power lunch you have circled red in your calendar, something much mightier takes precedence when you’re told you’re going to be knocked out cold and carved into. In a dull daze, I spoke to Kristi’s no-nonsense nurse and scheduled surgery for the following Wednesday at the semi-civilized hour of 9 a.m.. She told me not to eat or drink anything after Midnight, and set up an appointment for blood tests.

As I sat there in a chilly stupor, literally shaking, trying to digest the undigestable, my oldest friend Iva came through the front door. We were supposed to be heading out for a bit of fun, browsing thrift stores for possible vintage discoveries. “I have breast cancer,” I blurted, and her big blue eyes got even rounder, “What?!” she shouted, “I thought the doctor told you there was nothing to worry about!” You and me both, pal o’ mine.

Would I have to have a dreaded mastectomy? Would I have to undergo chemotherapy and lose my flaming red locks? Would they find that the cancer cells had gone haywire, spreading through various and sundry parts of my precious body?

The next few days went by in a frightful haze. I have since discovered that I was actually in Shock, which was followed quickly by Denial. I didn’t even head for Google to search for masses of informative Breast Cancer clues. I didn’t want to know anything about the damn disease. I was just going to do what my doctors said, be done with it and move on.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 52 - September 1095
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