Excerpt

Monday morning.  The day of my surgical consultation has arrived.  This is now the third morning I’ve been shaken awake by my new reality, its details rudely poking at me until I acknowledge their existence once again. Maybe I should sleep more. Of course, then I’d only wake up again to this assault. Somewhere, though, my brain still clings to the scrap of a possibility that at any moment I will be getting that liberating call, chock full of apologies and embarrassment about a misdiagnosis.

“We’re so sorry, Mrs. Hosford,” I can hear them saying, “we misread the slide with your tissue sample.  Please, please forgive us!”

I won’t even be mad. Actually, whoever calls will be shocked by my incredibly gracious attitude. “No worries,” I’ll say, with a casual wave of my hand, my voice sweet as the refined sugar I should have maybe tried harder to avoid. “Mistakes happen. Thank you so much for calling.” No lawsuits threatened.  No investigation. And no more cancer.

As I await the call and opportunity to display my forgiveness, a random thought occurs.  Where is my period?  I’m usually very regular.  This stress is causing all sorts of issues with me—feeling ill yesterday at the picnic, delayed period, my boobs still sore. Is that part of breast cancer, for both breasts to ache?

“Steph, I think you should take a pregnancy test,” Grant suggests when I list my current symptoms to him. Yeah, right.

I am in my bra and underwear, searching the closet for what to wear when we meet the surgeon in a couple of hours. I cup each hand over a boob and give a gentle squeeze. A little painful, but nothing dramatic.

“Honey, no,” I respond, not looking away from my wardrobe. What does one wear to a meeting to discuss her breast’s bleak future? Black? Depressing. Pink? It’s way too soon to consider pink. “It’s just a sign my period is still on the way, I’m sure of it.” My reluctance is entirely justified. I have five years of secondary infertility to back it up.

“And I still think you should take one,” Grant says in his typical, let’s get answers so we can take action way. But this time he’s really pushing it.  Sure, there was a time in my life when a late period would have thrilled me with the possibility of pregnancy. But now, when there is cancer going on in there? I highly doubt my body is capable of such multitasking.