Rewind to my drive home. I can tell Paul is reeling. As if we haven’t had enough shitburgers delivered to us lately (more on that later). He maintains his composure for me but wants off the phone immediately. I suspect he needs to pace around, clench his fists and possibly scream out loud. He needs to process this in his own way. I let him off the hook and tell him I’ll call Ami.
I call Ami, one of my besties from my Duke law days, who has also had her fair share of shitburgers delivered. She is a breast cancer survivor and one of the most honest, direct people I know. She will shoot straight with me. I had texted Ami the prior day (when I had the ultrasound and biopsy done) and clued her in on the goings on. We both knew since the prior day that this situation was not unfolding well. Most people who go in for an ultrasound leave after the ultrasound tech gets the pictures. Not me. I was left lying on the table and told to wait while the radiologist reviewed my film (I don’t know why I insist on calling it film anymore. It’s clearly all computerized. I think it’s because my mom is a radiologist and I grew up hearing her refer to everything as “film” — because it was. She was the Chief of Radiology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY (the irony of this is not lost on me). I remember her showing us all the weird crap that would show up on people’s “film”. She had a huge manila sleeve that held xray film — written in black sharpie on the outside of the sleeve was something like “Funny Films” (my mom is very literal!). When you held the film up to the light box, you could see all the forks, lightbulbs and other weird shit the freaks in Buffalo stuffed into their orifices. Oh lordie. I do love Buffalo!)). So the radiologist comes into the room and tells me that he’d like to do a biopsy. I can tell there is a sense of urgency in his tone and manner. I consent. Literally within 2 minutes I am being prepped with iodine and sterile towels. I barely had time to get a text off to Paul that they were biopsying (is that a word?). When I told Ami about this, her cancer radar went up — but she played it off so that I wouldn’t worry.
When I called her from the car, I got her voicemail. Next thing you know, I get a text from her “I’m on the BART, let me call you in 10”. Since I’m driving, I use Siri to text back to her “I have cancer they just called me”. My phone rings a second later. Poor Ami is on the BART — our conversation is fair game for all to hear. She is no longer playing anything off. The fact that they biopsied so quickly, my results came back in under 24 hours AND they wanted me to meet the nurse coordinator the same day as my results — was a trifecta she couldn’t withhold comment on! I tell her that I zoned out when the doc called to deliver the news (we’ve all watched enough tv to know this is normal). I tell her that I recall hearing “ductal” and “infiltrating”. Ami asks if I want the truth or if I want sugar-coating. We all know what I opt for. I go numb for the second time that day.