Sunday, July 8, 2012

Full Circle

A couple of weeks ago I had my last visit to my plastic surgeon for awhile. Surgery to swap out the expanders for implants likely won't happen until at least November, which will give my irradiated tissue time to fully heal before being operated on again. I'm in no rush to go through another surgery anyway.

Walking out of my surgeon's office, I literally almost ran head into the doctor who delivered Quinn, the doctor who told me he was sure the lump in my right breast was just a blocked milk duct; he had said to treat it with hot compresses and by expressing my milk more frequently. To be fair, even after I switched doctors and got a second opinion, my new doctor also said he was sure it was nothing.

Dr. F - Quinn's delivery doctor - was walking in to my suregon's office with his wife, who is also his receptionist. He was holding onto her elbow to guide her, probably how he'd done thousands of times before in their forty-plus years of marriage. She recognized me, but it took him a minute longer. I knew in an instant why they were there. Their faces - full of angst and panic and distress - spoke volumes to someone who's been through cancer.

We chatted in the doorway for a few minutes about the last year. She was having her pre-op appointment for her expander swap-out surgery (no delay for her because she hadn't had to go through chemo or radiation.) Mrs. F was "lucky," although I wouldn't wish any part of this disease on my worst enemy. Her cancer was caught early, only Stage 1, and she had opted for a double mastectomy because of a family history. We commiserated about how hard and uncomfortable the expanders are - like unwieldy grapefruits under our skin. I showed Dr. F pictures of Quinn and told them about completing treatment. He asked if I'd have more kids; I told him I probably wouldn't be able to, that I just want to be around to watch the one I've got grow up.

I walked away from this strange encounter in a kind of stupefied awe at how cathartic it had been. I hadn't realized quite how much anger I'd carried with me about my doctors ignoring my concern, telling me they were sure it was nothing, until it all melted away that morning. It turns out there's a huge amount of relief in forgiveness. (I'm pretty sure gurus have been teaching this for years.) Seeing Dr. F and his wife walking into that office, all I could feel for this couple was empathy. I wanted to wrap them both in a big hug and tell them everything is going to be okay. I sure hope that's true.

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