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More Voices


Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.

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I love my bathroom--after all, I picked the flooring and all the finishes, including the mirror spanning the wall opposite the shower. One morning, I step out of the shower, drying my underarm, when a bump under my breast reflects in the mirror. When my arm is down, it's gone. When my arm is up, it's there. Is it a cyst? Did I hit my chest? Is it in my breast? Oh, well, I'm late to work, so I run off.
The next morning, it's still there. I'm a doctor, so I decide to wait a few weeks. It may go away. Three weeks later, it's still there. Finally, I call. The appointment person hears "lump near breast" and orders a mammogram, an ultrasound and an appointment with a surgeon. I protest, "A surgeon is unnecessary. I'll see my family doctor."
My doctor examines the bump a few days later. "Maybe its a sebaceous cyst," she ponders. She squeezes it--no discharge. One week later, my ultrasound is suspicious and it's suggested that I have a biopsy.
"OK. I'm already here. I'm sure it's nothing."
The sonographer concurs. The interventional radiologist places a small marker at the biopsy site, which the mammographer can't find after four attempts. Having my breast mangled for three to four hours leaves me feeling hungry and angry. I dress, grab some food and return to work.
The next day, between meetings at work, my cell phone rings. My doctor identifies herself. We both pause. Finally, I speak first: "If you are calling about my biopsy results and it's not good," I say, "I don't want to hear it. I can't hear bad news right now."
She says "OK." I promise to visit her tomorrow.
I covet that night. My brain knows it's cancer, but my heart holds a sliver of hope it might be something else. I know that cancer patients receive harsh treatments, and we play in a field of statistics. For the next 22 hours, I'm just "me."
After lunch the next day, I finally push the elevator button that carries me to my doctor. She confirms what I know. I'm a breast cancer patient--one of the numbers. I examine my fear and find I'm more afraid of the treatments than of the cancer. I decide to get through this in my unique way. That's how it must be!
Deborah Kasman
Baldwin Park, California 

Encounters

mainencounterspicWe are proud to announce Encounters, our latest feature. Patients talk about their healthcare experiences, share stories about their lives outside the doctor's office and reflect on how these two worlds affect one other.