the perils of being a woman.

DISCLAIMER: this post contains items of very sensitive nature.  please do not read if you will not handle with care.

“do you see that, at the top of the screen?  that big black spot,” the doctor asked as the moved the wand around on the slippery jelly.  the image shifted and sure enough, there it was, just as she described.  a large shifting black mass, surrounded by lots of white tissue.

my first ultrasound and i’m staring at a lump in my breast, not a baby in my belly.

it started out innocent enough.  a simple, small bump just below my nipple.  it has progressed quickly to a larger, more tender lump with the surrounding skin tissue growing redder and more inflamed by the day.  my first stop was the OB/GYN, who immediately put me on an antibiotic in hopes of a run-of-the-mill infection, but sent me to a breast care specialist in fears of the big “C” word.

cancer.

the ultrasound seemed to dispel fears of cancer, tho the specialist never said either way.  she simply called it an “abscess” and indicated a need to drain it.

“close your eyes,” she said as i lay back, exposing some of my most tender female parts to the wind. “don’t look at the needle.  this going to hurt.”  she paused.  “no, really, it’s going to be very painful.  you need to grip something.”  my arms fell to the side of the exam table, frantically grasping for an edge quickly lest the pain begin before i was ready.

the pain was unbelievable.  i cried, i groaned, my chest heaved in response.  tears rolled down my face and into my ears, as she pulled fluid from the mass.

as i drove home, my right breast wrapped in gauze, cradled in my bra, bracing myself for every bump, it occurred to me just how much women go through.  with little to no credit.  fear of breast cancer, of losing a breast or having their women hood permanently scarred with disease.  the inability to have children or, worse, losing a child too soon.  enduring the incredible physical pain of pregnancy and birth.  their are so many things, and my needle-stick-to-the-breast was just brushing the surface.

the mass has not drained as they said it would, nor has it begun to recede with the upping of antibiotic dosages.  my brain has turned back to the possibility/potential of cancer and i’m debating my next move.  it’s that tension of needing to be responsible and in-charge and progressive about my own body, while simultaneously being the victim.  those around me, while good intentioned and loving in their approach, want to reassure me that it’s just an infection.  but i can’t shut off that fear in my brain that it’s something bigger.  something more.  and if so, what’s my game plan?

for now, all there is to do is wait and honestly admit:

i’m scared.

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