And with that fantastic title, I welcome my blog to the year 2017, a futuristic hover board year of time travel and silver space suits. What better way to welcome the new year than with a post about my annual mammogram? January 2015 was the month where I was diagnosed with breast cancer, an experience that ripped me a new one, over the course of two years, and continues to flavour my daily life.
A quiet hallway in a medical office building, and inside, a bustling X-ray and mammogram clinic, and inside that, a secret door to another waiting room, this one piled with Vogue magazines of yesteryear. I’ve always loved fashion, and fashion magazines – even in my most hardcore feminist days, I was drawn to the glossy unattainable beauty, million dollar photo shoots, sheaths of draping fox fur and angular alien models. YES I love your giant boxy double breasted $7,400 blazer with gold buttons. YES I love your red tights with green strappy heels, fine leather goods and freshly snipped bobs. YES I love how you place both hands on your hips and jut your shoulders forward and your elbows back as if it wasn’t the most awkward position in the world. YES every facial expression drips with pre-coital lust, head cocked back, and just-wet hair strands stuck to candy-apple red lipsticked faces.
Every day I reach for the exact outfit I wore yesterday – a denim shirt with holes in the armpits, high waisted jeans that cleverly cover my gunt. Maybe yesterday’s socks. I put on my red lipstick, comb my bangs and the day begins.
Over the Christmas holidays we went up to our family cabin in the mountains. I started a new drug up there, a fertility drug, which makes me feel like I’m face down in mud, dragging my body around in total exhaustion, foggy brained. I was feeling so sedentary, and so chubby from holiday gorging, and bloated and so fatigued from these drugs. I just looked in the mirror and thought, well this is it. I’ve officially let myself go. I’ve given up, on looks, on maintaining a semblance of a figure. Pass me another slice of mud pie. I’m 40, I’m tired, I’m old. GOODBYE LIFE. Time to quit my blog, social media, and disappear into a lifetime of hibernation and hiding my body in photos. This line of thinking was thankfully short lived but IT DOES EXIST IN THE MIND and it comes out in those dark moments.
Back to the mammogram. The technician, what a cruel and unusual punisher of women. She disliked me immediately, and I am THE FRIENDLIEST. We head straight into the mammography room and no “hello, how are you today, this is what we are going to do today.” No, instead, a tired, annoyed and gruff “TAKE YOUR TOP OFF.” She points to the corner of the room where there is a chair to put my clothes on. Suddenly I feel like I’m at a Harvey Weinstein audition, it’s uncomfortable but I do as she says. So I’m standing in a room with a total stranger, topless in blue jeans and winter boots, she comes over and just man-handles my body parts and jams them into position on the ledge of the machine. There are two hard plastic sheets that compress your breasts flat as pancakes while the breasts are x-rayed and it is painfully comedic, or is it comically painful? I get it, lady – you handle boobs all day and all night. But a slight amount of friendliness and bedside manner would make it more comfortable for all… but I’m going to *zen cupcake* on this. Breasts compressed, hot halitosis breath in my face telling me “DON’T BREATHE. STOP BREATHING. OK, BREATHE.” Then it was all done.
I got dressed, sat in the waiting room. Two years ago, they made me come back in and x-rayed my boob from a myriad of extremely painful angles. So I waited. Earlier that day, as I had a shower, my mind spiralled straight to this future recurrence, which they would find today, only this time it wouldn’t be small, but instead I’d have a double mastectomy, more aggressive chemo but it wouldn’t work, it would all be too late. And instead of my life path veering in this bright direction of a new baby, and finishing my book, and working on new fun projects and cakes, my life path would take ten steps backward, right back into the world of medicine and doctors and uncertainty, but this time a certainty – incurable. And then I imagined the songs I would like played at my funeral, and what photos we might use for a slideshow, and what food might be served, and who might attend. I would want it to be truly sad, with a coffin covered in gorgeous flowers, because dying is sad, and a place for people to be allowed to grieve, because it’s tough when you go to a service and you want to bawl and be together and grieve but you’re not sure, because it’s deemed a celebration, yet you don’t feel like celebrating.
Another technician popped her head out – “Lyndsay?”
I was all ready to go back in there for more tests – they had found a lump, something in my other breast, the cancer had come back and spread not only to my other breast but throughout my body. This was it. My last year on Earth.
She smiled slightly at me, a friendly gesture (she probably knew what a jerk her colleague was, the one I had).
“You can go. We’ll send your results to your doctor.” I jumped out of my seat, green parka in hand.
“OK! THANK YOU!”
So there you have it, beginning of 2017! A possibly clear mammogram. Happy new year, everyone. xo Lyndsay
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In Memory Of John Dumont
Cupcakes and Shadows