My name was called and we went back. Dr. Bower checked my incision, and then had us come into his office. We sat down. He looked at us.
"It was cancer," he said.
I felt dissasociated, as if he had remarked it wasn't a really nice day out, after all.
Jim asked the questions. I didn't know what to ask. While working at the newspaper, I had done a series on breast cancer survivors and thought I knew quite a bit about the disease. I now realized I knew next to nothing.
Dr. Bower outlined my choices: a total mastectomy or a resection followed by radiation.
My first reaction was to opt for the mastectomy. Get it over with, get it out of my body
Dr. Bower told us that mine was a typical reaction. He told us to go home and think it over. "Search the Internet, talked to people, read," he urged. "Then make the decision." He set up a day for the surgery, April 18, and a day to come in talk over our decision with him, April 12.
I say "our" decision because it was ours. I have always relied on my husband for advice and counsel. Sometimes I don't take it, but I do consider it. And so, we discussed the pros and cons together, although I knew that mine would be the final word.
When we went back on the Thursday before my surgery, I had my answer ready: resection and radiation. Dr. Bower nodded. "That would be my recommendation," he said.
Since I had no real questions, he picked up his calculator and figured out the distance we would have to drive for the radiation. It is 32 miles from our house to his office, and another 16 to the oncology center at Matthews Presbyterian, a total of 48 miles one-way, for five days a week for six weeks. You can do the math.
"You could almost drive to California," he said, putting the calculator down.
"I always wanted to go to California," I said. It was true; my dream is to visit San Francisco.
"It would be a lot more fun," he said.