Tag Archives: mammogram

Two years

Two years ago yesterday, the day before the Mayan calendar ended and we waited for predicted apocalypses, I learned that I had early stage breast cancer. A few days earlier I’d had my first mammogram, supposedly routine. (Note to every over-40 female: Do schedule a mammogram. Don’t do it a week before Christmas.)

An early-stage cancer diagnosis quickly became more complicated when I learned I carried the BRCA-2 gene mutation, increasing my chances of a recurrence.

I could only process the next two months through metaphor: I was stuck in a house of horrors, trapped with a serial killer and a lot of sharp objects, forced to make impossible decisions about my fate. A Jigsaw Killer victim, thrown into a twisted game of ‘would you rather.’

And suddenly my body wasn’t my own anymore but the territory of a team of professionals, one step removed from my humanity, knowing that so many others had gone through this but still feeling like I was the only one. Like being encased in a moon suit and tethered in a tenuous orbit of despair.

I needed something to look forward to.

Just before the diagnosis, a friend and I had planned a Key West vacation for the following year to A.) Go someplace warm in winter and B.) Visit the Hemingway House and dozens of hemingcats. Despite mounting medical bills, I was determined to hold onto that trip.

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The Mayan calendar ends

We stare at images of my breast
faceless to each other

“Here,” the doctor says. “And here.”

He traces invisible circles
claiming territory
on the spiderwebbed surface of the moon

This is where he will take
core samples
and mine for my future

The shadow of a snake appears
on the temple of sacrifices

Somewhere a hunter stumbles
upon a lone rabbit’s foot left
clamped in metal jaws