Fall of my freshman year was starting. I was going through the normal pains that one deals with at 14 when they walk the halls of high school for the first time. The clock starts counting down to college, high school sororities enter the picture, football, insecurities, emotional imbalances… life is full of enough questions and thoughts adding Cancer to the picture was almost too much to stomach.
It came out of nowhere a routine mammogram just a few short weeks away from a big overseas trip. Honestly, I do not even think I knew my grandmother was going in for it but it wasn’t long before I knew the result. The story goes that she had the xray and went to the waiting room to wait for the result. After being there for a bit too long my grandfather suddenly appears. He is a doctor and as many people have told me through the years “he’s not just my boss, he’s my boss’s boss”. She knew something had to be wrong when he walked through the door. It’s breast cancer.
Breast Cancer? No, that can’t be right. This my vibrant grandmother that picks me up all the time, takes me shopping and to plays. She plays on the floor with me and teaches me how to clean and cook. We bake bunny cakes for Easter and she get’s all the supplies together so Granddaddy and I can win science fairs and paint pumpkins. She can not be sick with cancer.
I remember sitting in Algebra staring out the window the day she had surgery watching the clock, I knew she was in, I knew she was having mastectomy. I couldn’t listen. I was not in class, really. I was pleading with God to not take her away from us. I wanted her at my wedding, I needed her to meet my kids, I was not letting her go.
We were lucky our stint with the cancer moster was short. They caught it early, they aggressively attacked it. It did not spread. I remember the day my Grandfather ran through the door with the pathology reports… it’s gone. We opened a bottle of champagne right then. We toasted to life and modern medicine and the look of love and relief on their faces was vivid.
This tale has a happy ending, we passed the five year mark many years ago. I get to tell tales of reconstructive surgery and insurance company bull shit. We get to laugh about how when she had the chance to be a bigger cup size she decided not to go for it. But, let it be a lessons to all my friends, my readers to not take advantage of your health. Go to the doctor for routine checkups and tests. I know they may seem unnecessary, you feel fine. But, so did she. The year before there was nothing there to even keep an eye on. A year later it was rapidly spreading cancer. And, to me at least, that is just scary.