When I found the lump, I began to regard my left breast as my enemy. I really didn’t want to look at or touch it. Until forced to acknowledge the appendage as mine, I’d ignore it.
I discovered the intruder two weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon. I called my doctor, and said, “I have a ….. I have a …. it’s on my breast.” I’d apparently forgotten the word for lump. The English word, not the Spanish one.
I would have gone to the local clinic for a free mammogram, but there are already some fifty thousand women in line in front of me.
A week after the sighting, my gynocologist confirmed the existence of the enemy within, and set up an appointment for an ultrasound. What she said was, “I’m sending you to San Pedro because they have the best equipment in Costa Rica. Do you know where San Pedro is?”
I claimed I didn’t, but it came to me later that I had once walked to the San Pedro Mall from San Jose. Her office staff set up the appointment. She also said, “The doctor there will do the ultrasound. He might follow that up with another mammogram. They have digital equipment.”
I hoped that meant no slamming my enemy between hard sheets of glass and tightening the screws. Even though I was angry with my breast, I didn’t want to see it tortured. “Say yes to that,” she said. “And if the doctor says he wants to aspirate, say yes to that too.”
I’d been sitting out a thunderstorm, reading, when I noticed the lump. I’d felt a tiny stab of pain and reached for it automatically. I’ve gotten insect bites on my breasts before, and that’s what I expected, but instead of a mosquito bite, my fingers found the rebel camp.
The doctor turned out to have done his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He knew Philly, my home town. I told him that HUP was okay, but I preferred Jefferson, and he laughed.
He ran the device over the enemy encampment, and confirmed, once again, that I had a lump. “I want to do a biopsy,” he said. I agreed.
He talked me through the steps of the process, and I lay on the table, trying to remember to breathe. When it was all over, he said, “Your breast might be bruised and tender for a couple of days.”
Serves it right, I thought. But after a few days of estrangement from my breast, I realized that the lump was the enemy. Because if my breast was my enemy, so was my colon. Only a week ago, an enemy polyp was detected there and cut down (cut off, to be precise) by my gastroenterologist.
All I can say is that I’m happy that I began meditating two months ago. It might help me to infiltrate the enemy, and turn her into a friend.