Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cancer Paranoia—The Beat Goes On

By Laura Yeager

I’ve been very nervous about anything unusual looking on my right breast where I had the angiosarcoma.  I’ve been beyond nervous, actually.  I’ve been paranoid.

About a month ago, I saw two purple spots, little bright purple dots on my breast tissue.  In a panic, I called the oncologist’s assistant.  “I’m sure the angiosarcoma is back,” I said.  “I’ve got two suspicious looking purple marks on my breast.  The breast that was irradiated.”

The assistant got me in the next day.

I waited in the examination room for about 45 minutes.  I could barely stand not knowing if I was sick again with cancer.  I opened the door and shouted to a nurse, “Where’s Dr. Kasper?  I’m waiting in here to see if I have cancer.  What’s taking so long?”

I don’t handle the stress of potential new cancers well.

The nurse gave me a dirty look.  She actually gave me a dirty look.  I silently cussed her out.  Let her sit in this little room and die from not knowing if you’re sick again with deadly cancer.

Finally, Dr. Kasper appeared.  “Now let me see this,” she said.

I opened the paper shirt they had given me to cover myself. 

“Where are they?”  She peered at my breast.

I pointed to the suspicious spots.

Suddenly, Dr. Kasper started laughing very loudly. 

“Oh, Laura.  Those are radiation tattoos.”

“Oh, my God,” I said.  I started laughing and crying all at once.

For those of you who don’t know what radiation tattoos are, the radiologists actually tattoo your skin to mark where they should direct the radiation.  They’d been there all along since my radiation treatments four years ago, but in light of the recent cancer, they had seemed terrifying and dangerous.

“Get out of here,” said Dr. Kasper.

Flash forward to last week.  A suspicious purple nodule had appeared on my incision line on my right breast.  Again, my mind flew to the worst case scenario—angiosarcoma.

I called Dr. Kasper.

“I’ve got a strange bump on my incision line.  It’s purple.”

Dr. Kasper’s assistant again got me in quickly.

Again, I found myself in the paper shirt.  Again, I waited alone in the hot exam room.

But this time, I didn’t spout off obnoxiously to any health care professional who would listen that I was waiting to find out if I was going to die.  I sat quietly.  Getting used to the program.

Finally, Dr. Kasper came in.

“O.K.  Let me see it.”

I opened the paper shirt.

She peered at the purple bump.

“That’s a suture that didn’t dissolve.  Sometimes, the sutures don’t dissolve and they poke up.”

She hugged me.

“I’m so sorry to waste your time,” I said.

“You’re not wasting my time.”

Cancer not only does something awful to your body.  It does something toxic to your brain as well.

I hope this paranoia of anything vaguely out of the ordinary on my breast skin will pass.

Until then, Dr. Kasper is only 15 minutes away.

Dr. Kasper.  She’s the best in town.

And she’s mine.