Breast Cancer Free, but not Guilt Free

Authored By Jennifer

WARNING: The following blog contains references to certain of my body parts and is rather personal. If you are highly sensitive, easily embarrassed, or are a friend of Brian’s and only know me as “that girl in the pictures on Brian’s blog,” feel free to skip this post.

As we slept in Patrick’s apartment in Rome, a sharp pain in my boob woke me in the middle of the night. It hurt so badly that I had to sleep on my back the rest of the night. The sharp pain lasted for a couple of days, and although I checked myself, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. After three days, the pain became dull and felt like a pulled muscle, it only hurt if it was touched a certain way. But the pain didn’t go away.

Three weeks later, I still had the pain. I thought it had gone away because I didn’t notice it while we were hiking the Inka Trail. But what really happened was that the rest of my body hurt so much, that the boob pain was nothing in comparison. After the Inka Trail we sat around Cuzco and recovered for four days, and in that time Brian got a lot of work done while I somehow developed a rash and caught up on old WB sitcoms on TV. With a rash and an achey boob, Brian finally convinced me to go to the doctor to get things checked out.

I was very afraid of going to the doctor. It’s a terrible thought, but I’ve always believed I would die from cancer. Both my mother and grandmother died from cancer just three years ago, and my aunt (also on my maternal side) survived breast cancer. And although I’ve had a fair share of difficulties in my life, I’ve generally led a very blessed life. So in my mind, my morbid thoughts aren’t just crazy talk. I wasn’t ready to see the doctor that would tell me that I had breast cancer.

After paying only $20, I sat down to see the doctor with Brian at my side. After explaining my issues, the doctor casually asked me to lay on the bed and pull up my top. There was no white paper on the bed and I wasn’t given a paper robe, but I did have the pleasure of stripping in front of Brian, the doctor, and two other English-speaking interns. During the exam, the doctor asked the interns “como se dice implantas in ingles?” which means “how do you say implants in English”. I’ll take it as a compliment that he thought I had implants. After the exam, the doctor explained that he felt some cysts in my boob, but that it was totally normal for women my age. In fact, he saw the same symptoms in Peruvian women everyday. Funny because I haven’t heard one of my girlfriends talk about having breast cysts. He continued to describe how the cysts would go away once I had children. I asked him what would happen if I didn’t have children and he kind of dismissed the question. Finally, he recommended a mammogram just in case it was worse than he thought.

We walked across the street, paid only $40 for the mammogram, and that’s when the fun began. The one hour session was led by a female Peruvian doctor who spoke hardly any English, and her intern that spoke only a little more than the doctor. The doctor asked me what happened, but the little Spanish I know wasn’t getting the story across. We pulled Brian in the room and he explained the situation. Soon the doctor began asking questions that had nothing to do with my health, like how old we were, why didn’t we have children and when would we begin having children. Of course this made us both uncomfortable and we just kinda laughed it off. The doctor finally started the actual mammogram process and Brian left the room. I started small talk as I was nervous and told her about hiking the Inka Trail and how hard it was. She said it was hard because I was too old. And “babies need young mothers”, and I really needed to start having kids right away. To get out of the lecture I told her that we didn’t have kids because Brian didn’t want them. She then told me how to trick Brian into having children. The lessons continued throughout the entire mammogram and all I could do was laugh.

A couple hours later we came back to the mammogram office to get the results. Fortunately the mammogram came back free and clear, no cysts, no lumps, no nothing. Only an inflammation that we still don’t know the cause of. She gave us the x-rays, a great Peruvian souvenir, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and told us she was waiting for us to have children. My mom would love this woman.

2 Responses to “Breast Cancer Free, but not Guilt Free”

  1. greg Says:

    That’s great news!

    Can Kobe and I be uncles???

  2. James Says:

    Jennifer – To say the least I was frightened when I began reading your blog but am so happy to hear that you are free and clear! A big sigh of relief. Hope your adventures are going well.