"Mashed, Poked, and Prodded" (essay)

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McClellan 3

Faye McClellanEnglish 101Professor BoltonJanuary 26, 2012Mashed, Poked and ProddedHas it only been two months? Wow, I guess it has been! Our most recent trip to Disney World seems like so long ago now. Just a week after getting home, I was at the Doctors office being told I needed a mammogram. I went, as ordered, within the week. The nurse asked me about family history of breast cancer. I told her there hadnt been any so she assured me, Its nothing to worry about then, Im sure. Besides, youre only thirty. She set me up on the mammogram machine, putting the area where the lump was found between two cold, flat pieces. After half an hour of agonizing squashing, squeezing and mashing, I was finished and on my way. I received a call on my cell phone before I made it home. The nurse on the other end was Ashley, a friend of mine. We have set up an appointment for you to see Dr. Brackett on Thursday, she told me, referring to a Breast Specialist in town. Once the color returned to my face, I softly replied, Thursday? Thats the day after tomorrow. That cant be good, can it?She tried to be reassuring and hopeful Everything will be fine. Im glad that you came by the office. At least it was detected early so it can be treated now. Listen, Ill call and check on you after I get off work. Why was everyone telling me it would be fine? It didnt feel fine. Of course they felt fine with the situation. It wasnt their breast that a lump was found in.Two nights of sleeplessness came and went. Thursday, at his office, Dr. Brackett walked in with his nurse, Sabrina, and a portable ultrasound machine. After a warm and friendly introduction, he gave me the news that I had feared most From what I can see on your mammogram, it looks like you have breast cancer. Ill do a needle biopsy today using the ultrasound wand to guide me. Well send the tissue to the lab to be analyzed and in a few days we should know if its benign or malignant.He proceeded to explain the stage, location and type, but I was in such shock, I did not hear much. It was getting harder to breathe. The room felt as though it was getting darker and spinning out of control. I was trying to mentally process what he had said. It could not be true! He couldnt tell that from just a picture, could he? Well, the biopsy results would let us know for certain, I assured myself.Sabrina walked me out to the front desk and handed me some informational packets. Feel free to call me if you have any questions. Her eyes were sympathetic as she handed me a card with her information. My personal number is here as well if you just want to talk about it with anyone. With that gesture, I knew that even though they see patients every day, they werent callused to the devastation of the disease. How would I tell the kids? I Googled some more information on the internet. When I was certain that I could hold back the tears, I sat the kids down and let them know what the doctors had discovered. My odds of beating this and getting well are better now than ever before. Cancer is no longer a death sentence like it was many years ago, I told them as we gathered in the living room. After a few questions, they seemed to handle it okay, considering. Dr. Brackett told me it was malignant that Monday. He then scheduled me an appointment to meet the Radiologist and the Oncologist. He sent me to have blood work, X-Rays, MUGA Scan, Bone Scan, MRI and CT scans done as well. Most of those scans were done in the same day. From laying face up for the CT and bone scans, face down for the MRI and standing up for the X-Rays, I was shaking on the outside as much as I was on the inside.Upon meeting with Dr. Goodin, the oncologist, I learned about the chemotherapy medicines that would be used to treat me as well as how much and how often. These will be given intravenously every other week. You will be given Cytoxan and Adriamycin for the first four cycles and Taxol for the last four. Each time you will be given a steroid to reduce the inflammation, some Zofran to help with nausea and some Pepcid to help coat your stomach. The day after each treatment, you need to come in for a Nuelasta shot. It is given by a small needle injection in your abdominal area and is used to boost your immune system. Here are some papers with more information and the possible side effects, he said as he handed me a stack of intimidating papers.Now, here I find myself, at the medical building, sitting in one of many brown recliners, staring at the wall of glass and listening to the pump machine that my IV is hooked up to make a loud beeping noise because the first bag of medicine is empty. Pamela, I call to the nurse attending me today, I think its time for the rest of my cocktail, referring to the mixture of chemotherapy medicines I can already feel coursing through my veins. Its still nothing I am used to, even though it is my third infusion, but its amazing what becomes routine. I lay back and close my eyes again, as I hear the echo of her shoes on the tile, hurrying my way. I think to myself as I try to drift back off to sleep, Only a few more months of this toxic therapy, then surgery, followed by a few weeks of radiation and Ill be finished. Life will be back to normal again..Right? My hair will grow back, my skin will get its color once more and food will taste good again. For the moment, though, Im too tired, always too tired, to think on anything but the here and now. I just let my body relax and my mind wander as I dream of a happier time, a time just two months ago, when we were all at Disney World.