I Got A Biopsy On My Right Breast. I Know This: My Tits Contain MulTITudes. By Dish Stanley

I Got A Biopsy On My Right Breast. I Know This: My Tits Contain MulTITudes. By Dish Stanley

. 6 min read
Yes, I drew this picture of my tits.

During a biopsy on my right breast last Friday my mind went into a revelatory, celebratory tit-a-thon of sorts (just in case, I guess). But before that, there were three months of annoyances and fears, real and imagined.

Everything ended up fine in the end, but last Friday I had to have some calcifications in my right tit biopsied.

It all started at the end of January when I went for my periodic mammogram. Two days later I logged in to see the results. “Focal asymmetries” on the left and right breasts and “grouped calcifications in the upper outer corner of the right breast.” My immediate reaction was not “Shit, I might have cancer” like I imagine a normal, emotionally mature person might react. Mine was “Shit. Are my breasts lopsided?” (I have always adored my tits and was somehow under the impression they were hot.) 

Just as I fretted over their hotness, my Primary Care Physician called to say that I needed a follow-up mammogram zoning in on my tits’ problem areas. That ended up indeterminative, so my PCP called again to say I needed a sonogram. After those results she called yet again. At this point it is late March and the whole tit thing has become tedious. She said, “The good news is that the asymmetries were deemed okay.”

“Okay? So not okay! Lopsided tits? So not hot! LOL.” I joked with her. 

“The asymmetries are minuscule, barely visible. What’s an LOL?” she responded. 

“Laugh out loud? Do you have kids?” I said.

“Why? Is that a term the kids are using?” she asked.

“Ummm, no. Actually it’s OG. Very OG. But we’re OG.” I said.

“OG?” she asked.

“Old Guy. But speaking of that, this morning I noticed an unusually large amount of hair had come out in my hairbrush. So I have lopsided tits and now I’m losing my hair. Those are the only two physical features I have ever actually liked about my body, of course. And I think I need them both for dating. This whole tit trip is getting tedious. Not to mention, menopause. It’s been such a fun phase! But I’m ready for it to be over.” And then, “Sorry about that. You probably don’t have time for this. Ummm, what’s the next stop on my tit trip?”

“Well yeah, the calcifications require a biopsy. There’s only a 20% chance of breast cancer from calcifications though,” she said.

Before this tit trip I was a woman who pretty much always enjoyed having my tits touched. I couldn’t think of a single instance when I didn’t, and I thought really hard about it. Even the biter was fun once I asked him to ease up a bit. But somewhere along the tit trip that started to change. They had been heavily handled but, regrettably, not in a good way. In a clinical poking, prodding and compressing way. My attitude about my tits was slowly adjusting.

On April 24th, two days before the biopsy, a voice from the hospital (presumably attached to a person, but that was not clear) called to pre-register me. From what I caught I’d be sitting atop a table on all fours, naked from the waist up, then I’d ease my right breast into an opening where it would be tightly compressed, then the table would twist and my tit would be pierced by a 7” needle deep into the tissue. There would be blood, soreness and the risk of a hematoma. I should plan to do nothing for two days following the procedure. All this was delivered over a twenty minute call in a robotic monotone which was anything but calming. 

When the robot finished her spiel I asked whether I would be allowed to bring somebody into the procedure room with me to, like, “hold my hand.” “No,” the voice stated flatly.

During the biopsy, lying on the table half-naked and face down, frozen awkwardly in position, I felt oddly detached from the whole experience. There were the physical sensations I couldn’t ignore: the snap of the rubber gloves; the pierce of the needle penetrating deep into my right breast; and the artwork I was forced to stare at while my head was jammed sideways—a glammed-up princess whose make-up looked very much like some of the women I spotted at the bar at Harry’s in West Palm Beach right after it opened (though those women do not wear “I will survive” tiaras)*. Otherwise my mind wandered.

Artwork on the wall in the breast imaging diagnostic wall at The Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center in Jupiter, Florida

In fact, my mind left my body and darted into something resembling  a cartoon bubble over my head. Looking down on my uncomfortably cramped body, it was hard not to consider my tits, under the circumstances. I immediately pictured a photograph of me from a decade earlier, topless and carefree on Colombier Beach in St. Bart’s, looking straight at Nicholas, my then-boyfriend, with a naughty smile. I then felt the pleasing but uncertain, exploratory, gentle strokes of my high school boyfriend Danny, who I lost my virginity to my senior year. I also looked down on the top of the head of my last lover, David, as he slipped my left breast out from behind my sundress. I could feel me rustling his wiry, thick, unruly gray curls just as he parted his lips as if he were going to bite into an orange. How is it that these two orbs that have been the font of so much titillation and comfort could also be the source of something cancerous?  Like Walt Whitman, I thought, as I was in my cartoon bubble, they “are large and they contain multitudes.”

When all the probing was finally over I sat up from the table, looked at the bloody tape on my tit and realized that my cheeks were wet from tears. This was a sensation I hadn’t sensed. Whether it was from the pain of the needle or the nostalgia of the tit-a-thon I don’t know, but I’d been crying.

What I did know as I dropped the hospital gown and slipped on my favorite stretch Citizens of Humanity jeans was that up to that point my very (overly) strong-willed mind had convinced itself that this was all much more of a hassle than a worry. Then I remembered it was two years ago that I wrapped up my favorite vintage Pucci scarves to lend to my friend Nina as she went through radiation for her breast cancer. I walked by three ashen-looking women in the Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center’s “Serenity“ aftercare lounge on my wait out—barely able to contain myself from the urge to hug them—and in that moment I felt much more frightened than hassled.

As I got home last Friday afternoon I thought, “Hmmmm, I have a week end to get through before I get the results.“ The radiologist had told me to do nothing but rest to avoid a hematoma, and also because I’d be tender, swollen and tired. So I napped with my dog Ricky. But on Saturday morning I woke up to this thought: “What if this is the last weekend in my life before learning I have breast cancer?” I felt desperate for the comfort of company. I called family. I found a friend who was free for a coffee, then another who was free for a drink. I thanked god for them.

On Monday my PCP called to say the calcifications were benign. “You’re perfect,” she said. 

“Still asymmetrical!” I joked.

”Yeah, perfectly asymmetrical,” she responded. “And you know, you can come in and see me if you’re experiencing hair loss. It may be menopausal related, and there are things that can be done.”

As I put the phone down I looked out my screen door and noticed that one of the white orchids I’d hung in my bamboo branches has a small off-center blemish, the color of fuchsia. “Utterly beautiful,“ I thought. Just then I felt a dark cloud that had clung to me for months vanish to reveal a sunny day.

*Dating in the Palm Beach area as a woman on the verge of 60 is its own unique trip. Often hilarious! There are plenty of good men but dinner reservations are hard to come by. I am working on a story (heteronormative focus) and would love input from anyone who has done it in the last two years. If you’re willing to chat off-the-record please write me at Dish@PrimeCrush.com.

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