If you are just stopping in, this is the thirteenth post in my 31 Day Series: I Wear Pink. Join me as I share my breast cancer journey. You can find the previous posts here.
Pat and I took the train into the city on the day of my appointment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. I had all of my images, tests, blood work, and every little thing that I thought they might want to take a look at. We found a taxi and were delivered to the hospital. After completing the required paperwork, we sat down in the very busy waiting area. There were couches and little chairs arranged into conversation areas.
We hadn't been there long when a woman arrived sobbing. She had her husband and a girlfriend with her. Of course, the trio sat next to us. Her companions tried to talk to her, she however refused to be comforted. She continued to cry and cry. Eventually, Pat leaned over to her husband. "What are you in for?" he whispered. I tried to shush Pat telling him it isn't polite to ask people questions in a hospital.
The woman's husband turned from the two women with a look of relief. He shared that his wife had been called back for more mammogram images. Pat, now the expert on mammography, assured him that many women get called back every day. Most of the time it turns out to be nothing. He nodded reassuringly.
The man turned to his wife and told her the good news. She did not look impressed. In fact, she continued to wail. So he turned back to Pat and returned the question, "What are you in for?"
That was when Pat began to understand the wisdom of why it isn't polite to ask questions in a hospital. "Well," Pat stammered, "My wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. We're here for a second opinion."
Abruptly, the crying woman stopped crying. "You have breast cancer? How do you know? What will you do?" Three sets of eyes focused on my chest.
I tried to explain how I knew as gently as I could. I didn't want her to start crying again. I assured her that women were called back for additional images and that usually it wasn't anything to be concerned about. If in fact it was cancer, finding it early by a mammogram, was the best thing. I'm not sure that she was convinced, but she had stopped sobbing. When I was called in to see the doctor, she rested her head on her friends shoulder. I'm not sure why she was placed in my path, but I do pray for her still.
The doctor and his intern looked at my images and reports. They spoke together in low voices. Pat had come in to the exam room with me. He sat quietly in a corner. Then the the doctor began his examination. Let me just say that it was incredibly awkward for me for the two men to be examining me while my husband sat and watched. The doctor and the intern spoke over me. They both felt for the tumor, but said that they couldn't feel it. The central location of the tumor and that it was up against the chest wall made it impossible to detect. While examining me they had almost forgotten that I was there. The doctor said to the intern, "She has really lumpy breasts."
"Lumpy! I always thought they were firm!" I piped up startling both of them.
Finally, the doctor summed up his findings. He drew me a little picture of the location of the tumor. He laid out exactly the same treatment list that the local doctor had shared. He suggested that traveling after surgery would not be comfortable and that I should consider going to the hospital near my home. He also said that he knew the local doctor by reputation and that I would be "just fine with her." He praised the radiologist for finding the tumor. Once again I was told that he had made a "good call."
Pat and I were relieved. The suggested treatment had been confirmed. The doctor at Sloan had endorsed the doctor close to home. We had our answers.
I made Pat take me out to lunch at Pershing Square, a restaurant just outside of Grand Central Station. I had the Maine lobster roll. It was delicious. Three years later, Pat still hasn't gotten over paying $24.00 for a sandwich on a hot dog bun. He did, however, enjoy his hamburger.