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The Sounds of Silence

Laura Linney is my favorite actress.  Has been for years.  When I was cast in a reading of "Love Letters" years ago, I was thrilled when someone said that I was just as good as she was in the role. If I could ever be an actress, I would use her as a role model.

And this week, I used her performance in "The Big C" for just that.

Last Thursday, I had my annual mammogram.  Only thing was, I hadn't been in four years.  I knew that in 2011 I put it off because I lost my job, had two sons get married (with three ceremonies on two continents), got Wingman into rehab, got another job.  I missed it in 2012 with the deaths of Wingman and his father, losing my home and losing my job again. I know, no excuses. Anyway, I went for the big squeeze, and was mildly concerned when the technician said she needed to take a few more films of one of the girls. 

I was majorly alarmed when they called me bright and early Friday morning to say they found an "irregularity" and needed me to come back for more pictures and possibly a sonogram. With Monday being a holiday, and Tuesday they were booked up, could I come in on Wednesday?  That far away???

The voices in my head went into a high speed wobble.  Denial spoke first "This can't be true. You've had enough bad Karma this year. This shouldn't be happening to you." Then Blame "You idiot.  This has been growing in you for four years, you're gonna die". Then Fear "How will you manage the house? Who will take care of you?" Then Hope "Maybe they caught it early".  Have the mastectomy.  You'll live to see your grand kids grow up." Then Doubt "No one will hire you if you're bald and throwing up from chemo." Mind you, all I was told on the phone was that there was an irregularity.  "The Big C" word was never spoken but the voices ignored that and just kept talking-each one yelling to be heard over the others.

I did my second Color Run Saturday morning. Among the many participants were teams of cancer survivors.  Hope said "See? You can be here with them next year!" I then went down to south Jersey to babysit my granddaughter.  Holding that new little baby was almost more than I could bear when Guilt whispered "She may never get to know you." Crap.  I hate those f'ing voices. I turned on an old episode of Sex and The City to take my mind off of it.  The episode was of Miranda getting married and Samantha finding out she had breast cancer.  The voices had a field day.

I worked Sunday and Monday. Every time someone asked for help with what matched a black skirt or a pair of jeans, the voice of  Frustration cried out  "People-they're just freaking clothes!!! Who cares!!! She's dying inside!!!" To which Sarcasm in my head replied "We're all dying inside".

By Tuesday, I had mentally figured out who would get my Christmas ornaments and village collections, what song would be playing in the background of my hospice room and  what I would say to the people who loved me, and more importantly rejected me over my lifetime.  I was manic. The voices in my head were cheerily having their nails done in anticipation of my Wednesday appointment. I just chewed mine to the nubs.

Tuesday night, one of those freaking voices pulled the alarm in my brain so we could have an all-night fire drill with last minute things I could worry about.  Someone in there brought a salsa band so some new voices could dance the Big C cha-cha.  I was up all night with Envy, Guilt, Resentment, Jealousy and yes, even Loneliness singing like The Supremes.

As I drove to my appointment on Wednesday, I couldn't help but notice that the sky was as blue as it was on 9/11. Not a great thought for a woman who imagined her breast to be a plane, and that "irregularity" as the terrorists on board. As I walked into the center, I kept thinking "15,000 people walked down the stairs to safety that day. Let me be one of those people today."

The lounge for women coming back with a problem is much nicer than the first.  Soft thick robes, warm cookies, fresh juices, hot coffee and herbal teas.  It's also away from the main room, so if you're told bad news, you don't scare the rest of the patients with your hysterics.  I waited with a Spanish speaking woman with her interpreter.

The technician came and got me and I was squeezed like Play-Doh to take a 3D image.  And then another. And another. I was escorted back to the waiting room, where the Spanish woman had just been told that she has cancer.  I watched in horror as she cried, yelled and threw a chair.  I'm glad me and the voices didn't understand what she and the interpreter were saying. But we got the message.

My technician came in looking very serious.  But the news was great. Awesome. Incredible.  It was nothing.  Just an irregularity.  I thanked her for everything, got dressed in a hurry and left with a pink rose in one hand and the bill for the deductible (paid with American Express before you leave) in the other.

In the bright blue sunshine, I called the only two people with whom I had shared my angst with, and they were ecstatic.  I went home and casually mentioned to son #3 that I had gone to the doctor's. He grunted and went back to flipping between Pawn Stars and Yukon Men, not knowing how much I had worried the past five days.

I looked at my phone and saw a text message from one of the people I had just called to say everything was fine.  It read:

Annual check up
12 months from today
That would be Labor Day weekend 2014

And not, surprisingly, the voices in my head didn't disagree with the last comment.  In fact, they had nothing to say at all.


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