The Raw Vegan: Part LVII, The Oncologist

One thing I eventually learned was to keep my mouth shut if I had a potentially serious health issue. That took time, though, and not enough of it had passed yet. My eating hadn’t improved though I was still vegetarian. I’d never had any kind of urge to eat dead animal bodies and that hadn’t changed. My mother was always amazed there’d been no temptation to try them. The problem was I enjoyed what was available to me too much. As long as the label didn’t display anything requiring the death of a creature, I would eat the contents.

My weight hovered around 140-145 lubs. I was pretty well toned because I did exercise quite faithfully. There was a dress shop in town that sold shirtwaist dresses and I had several. One favorite was a pale lime green one. It had a belt made of the same fabric and my waist was trim enough to look good.

When I was growing up, my desire was to be a big-chested woman. It wasn’t until after I’d gone through childbirth that I was able to manage it. The radiology department tapped me to be a guinea pig for the new machine they’d gotten for mammography. The reason? I had large dense breasts. In the process, something was spotted. It didn’t look like much to me but there were some more shots to make sure. The radiologist read it as a courtesy and recommended a follow-up with my doctor.

I made my appointment and he examined me and said it was probably a cyst. When I told my sister in the Great Northwest, she hit the ceiling. There was a good chance (according to her) that it was cancer. No matter that there wasn’t a history of breast cancer in the family. Neither did it cut any ice that I’d nursed two of my three children—and one was for three years. I was to go further with my exploration.

My niece worked at a large area hospital and knew specialists who had offices there. She was contacted and, being of a helpful bent, she set up an appointment for me with an oncologist.

The day came for me to see the specialist. I’d had to take off work to do it and that was a real sacrifice. Another blow to the bank account was my copay. I went armed with my money in hand.

Weather can be a pain. It’s been so long I can’t be sure but I think the time of year was March. Whether it was or not, a March wind was blowing. When I got out of the car, the wind blew my skirt toward the car just as the door was closing. I opened it as quickly as I could but the damage was already done. There was black grease on my skirt. Worse, there were tiny holes where the latch had caught it. I was sick. I didn’t want to be there in the first place and this added insult to injury.

I took my frustrated self into the building and went to the totally unfamiliar office. The staff was nice. The doctor was nice. He examined me thoroughly from the waist up and showed me how to palpate my breast to find the “mass”. Before I dressed, he had me go through the motions several times until I could be sure I knew what to do. His diagnosis? A benign cyst! He told me to keep watch on it and if it got any bigger or changed in any way to get back in touch with him.

My dress was ruined. I’d had a blow to my budget. I was eating up precious vacation time just to keep the wolf away from the door. It cost me to put gas in the car and go close to 100 miles round trip. It wasn’t a disappointment that the specialist agreed with my primary care physician but I was still teed off that I’d been on what was essentially a wild goose chase. Lesson learned.

DD and I did our laundry at my in-law’s house. There was no way to have facilities for it even in our larger house. I changed my clothes and took a load including The Dress to wash. There was some pre-treatment of some sort that I used on the grease and lo! it took it out. That was a plus but it didn’t heal the holes. Nothing could help them.

Back in our house, I looked at the dress from several angles and decided I could make “gores” on the front half of the skirt and cut that part out. I’d have to match it on the right side but that shouldn’t be a problem. My scissors and I went to work. I measured and cut then sewed the straight seams. My mother’s training was coming in handy. Part of her routine was to press press press the seams so they would lay flat. When it was all done, the front panel and gores even added something to the style. I would have rather not had the experience but I could still wear the dress.

Over the next few months I did my breast self exams and one day I couldn’t find anything. When six months had gone by, I had another mammogram and this time it was clear. I was okay. My sister was okay. My dress was okay. Then it was time for my annual Pap smear. What would my gynecologist find?

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