Today The Doctor Told Me I Have Breast Cancer
Thank God I Have Family, Friends and Health Insurance!
Last month I noticed a lump in my breast and because my mother died at 56 from breast cancer, I instinctively knew. No, it does not skip a generation and yes, I have always wanted to think that I would get out of this life without having to hear the words that one out of every eight women hears: "You have breast cancer." But today, I heard the words. I haven't even had a biopsy yet, but the two radiologists say they are sure. The mammogram was suspicious, but the ultrasound this morning must have confirmed the suspicions.
Crazy as it may sound, my first reaction was laughter; not because cancer is anything to laugh at, but because the radiologist's name is, of all things, Dr. Lumpkin. The irony was just too much and the laughter was almost uncontrollable. Leave it to me to make fun of someone's name...
The biopsy will be scheduled for sometime in the next couple of weeks. As sure as they are that it is cancer, they are not sure if it has spread. That will come later, as will the decisions. I was congratulated because they think that I found it early enough. I hope so! My mother waited too long. She noticed a lump and waited for close to three years before telling anyone. By that time the cancer had spread to every part of her body and I watched as the surgeons removed not just her breast, but so many other parts of her cancer-ravaged body.
This morning my son, who took me for the ultrasound, reminded me that my mother managed to live for almost five years after her diagnosis and that she was not mean. It is a joke that my kids have. Through every medical catastrophe that I have survived, and there have been many, they always say, "Mom, you will be okay. You're too mean to die!" It may very well be true...
I am so lucky, really. I have three kids that I love, I have two beautiful grandchildren, I have good, good friends that cannot be replaced and I have great health insurance.
On and off throughout the day, I thought about how different this day would have been if I lacked health insurance and that is the one thing that brought me to tears. How many women have to face this knowing that they will not get the care that they need; the care that might save them just because they lack health insurance?
I have worked in the health care field for over thirty years and the difference between death and survival is many, many times determined by health insurance coverage or lack of it. It should not happen, but it does and it has to change. Just because I have health care coverage makes me no more worthy to live than someone who doesn't, and right now, as this diagnosis is still sinking in, I continue to think about those thousands of other women who will get a similar diagnosis this year.
I have been tired lately and haven't had the energy to do much writing. As I fight this upcoming battle, I am going to do my best to continue to anger the conservative right with an occasional article.
Wish me luck and yes, say a little prayer for me, please...