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November 6, 2008

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Save the Twins

I thought this month would be a break from Doctor’s, but no.

Today I had my annual visit to the breast cancer center.
My family has a strong history of breast cancer.  My mother is a breast cancer survivor.  Her sister died of breast cancer in her late 30’s and her daughter (my cousin) died of breast cancer in her early 30’s.
I’d been putting off the exam for almost a year because the appointment proved to be difficult to schedule in between TWW (you can’t do a mammogram if you might be pregnant).  I had to cancel a couple of appointments last winter and then kind of forgot about it…until my Doctor pretty much chewed my ass out for not making it priority.

As routine for the past nine years, I do a mammogram and an ultrasound as I am ‘high risk’.  And of course, the later you wait to have a child (or never have one) you are at an even higher risk.
As a lay in the darkened room looking up at the ceiling tiles while the technician squirted goo on my breast and ran the handheld machine across my chest all sort of horrible thoughts went through my head.
Like:  Maybe this is why I had a miscarriage, because I have breast cancer.  
Or:  I guess it’s best that I didn’t get pregnant since I have breast cancer.  
Or this one:  I’ll never get to have a child because I’ll be going though radiation for the rest of my child bearing years.

I’ve known about my high risk for breast cancer for so long I’ve tried to remain nonchalant about my breasts.  I used to think that if I had to have a mastectomy that I’d be OK with that, after all, they are only fatty tissue.  I’ve tried so hard to be removed from the fact that they’re MINE.  And I like them.  They are beautiful.  

They aren’t perfect like my cousin’s were–her surgeon cried when he had to remove them (I know this because my aunt was the anesthesiologist and was in the room the entire surgery) and declared they were the most beautiful breasts he’d ever seen.  Can you imagine?  
She was so beautiful, so young.  The worst thing–far worse than having a double mastectomy at age 33–was the fact that her daughter at 6 years old was witnessing her death.  This was the same exact age she was when her own mother died of the same exact disease.
I can’t think of anything more painful than knowing you are going to die and also knowing exactly what your daughter is going to experience after your death because you already lived that life.

My twins are fine.  They found nothing, absolutely nothing.  For one more year, I can breathe a giant sigh of relief.