So two months ago missus chritter got a rather urgent call from her GP. An "irregularity" in her mammogram, they needed to do more imaging. Which revealed a 2-centimeter mass in her left breast. Which, given her family history (she lost both a grandmother and an aunt to breast cancer), was genuinely terrifying. And she was kicking herself because she'd been skipping mammograms, hadn't had one in five years. Somewhat ironically, in the crazed life of a resident physician, routine testing isn't often a high priority.
Then genetic testing. She assumed the worst, that she had the BRCA or BRCB gene and would need an immediate double-mastectomy. Mercifully, after a week of waiting, she came up negative for both.
Then the biopsy, which confirmed cancer. That was a bad, if not entirely unexpected day.
Lumpectomy was this past Tuesday. Her family was here, staying with us, she told me not to come, I'd just be sitting around and I'd started a new job only a week earlier. I wanted to be there, but she had her mom and her brother. Then the wait for the path labs to come back to tell us if the cancer had spread to her system and lymph nodes. If it had, it meant chemo at least. At the very least.
Tonight her iPhone buzzed. She looked at it intently.
missus chritter: YESSSSSSS!
me: What? WHAT?
missus chritter: Path labs are back.
me: What?! They said they'd take a week?! What's it say?
missus chritter: "Clear edges, normal lymph nodes."
She being the doc, she had to explain that bit to me, but the bottom line is that the tumor that was removed was surrounded entirely by healthy cells and that the cancer hadn't spread to her lymph nodes. Which is as good news as we could have gotten. Radiation is next, but goddamn does it feel like a suffocating weight of fear has greatly dissipated.
I've spoken of this to almost no one, as has she. I'm not sure why. It's very personal, of course, and she tends towards silent stoicism, but for me at least there was also an element of superstition: "naming brings it," speaking about it would make it more real and give it more power. I've lost friends and relatives to various forms of cancer; what we got tonight is simple blind luck, it could easily have been much, much worse with a different roll of the physical dice. So even feeling this kind of relief seems slightly ominous, like being set up for a fall, the email that comes later tonight saying "Oh wait, we just noticed something else…"
But yesterday we had Magnolia Bakery chocolate cake with yellow lemon-buttercream frosting, and we'll have more tonight and today was a good, good day. And if we must suffer the bad days we should at least get to milk the good ones for all they're worth.
And, of course, through it all it's been a great source of comfort to have friends to natter away at about bread and gummi candy and breakfast sandwiches, and to see your doggies and fat little spiny hogs and just talk about daily minutiae. So thanks are owed to all of you. Thanks for helping me stay just on the near side of sane. I just wanted to share my good day with all you lovely folks, you deserve it.