The strains of Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” played on the CD player again as she stepped from the shower and grabbed her towel. She stepped to the mirror and sang along with the chorus as she ran the towel through her hair. In the mirror she cautiously eyed her breasts. They still looked like they had when she’d had her last baby. They were still so… young looking.
At 43 Marina was fit, trim, and had a robust love of life. She had two adorable children, ages 10 and 8. She was divorced, and had been for two years… every since she had caught Ethan with her best friend, on her lunch break.
She wrapped the towel around her body and grabbed the blow dryer. The song started again as she started on her hair. As she dried her hair she thought about the past two weeks. The phone call from her doctor’s office had thrown her for a loop. She knew that an abnormal first mammogram wasn’t completely unusual, but it was cause for concern.
She headed to the bedroom to dress, dancing as she went, belting out the chorus as she did.
“I went skydiving, I went Rocky mountain climbing, I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu-Man-Chu!” “I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter….”
Pulling the shirt over her head, and tucking it into her jeans, she bent over to retrieve her shoe from under the bed. Tears pricked the corners of her eyes… she would know today, after hearing the results of the biopsy. The wondering, dread, and sickly scared feelings could finally be reigned in. Today was the day.
She finished getting ready, and turned of the CD Player. Heading down the hall, she peeked into her daughters room. It was neat as a pin; bed made, everything just so. Her stuffed animals were quietly looking at Marina from the bed. Brianna was so much like her father, in so many ways. She closed the door, and padded down the hallway.
She stopped at Evans door, the sign with the alien drawn on it catching her attention – “NO GIRLS ALLOWED” it proclaimed… “Unless your MOM” written underneath. She smiled as she opened the door. What a contrast to Brianna’s room. Clothing piled in the chair, a towel hanging from the computer monitor. The bed was unmade and his pillows were falling on the floor. Marina smiled and scooped up the laundry and towel. She laid the pillows back on the bed, and pulled the comforter up. Leaving the room in a less distressed state made her feel better, useful.
She took the armload of clothing to the laundry room and deposited it in the hamper. Glancing at her watch, she started a load in the washing machine. She checked the back door, patted Gloria the Golden Retriever on the head and grabbed her keys.
She headed into the garage, and got in her car. She turned on the radio and headed to her doctors office. Traffic was really light, and she made it with quite a few minutes to spare. She got out of the car and stepped into the sunshine.
She approached the sidewalk that was lined with beautiful flowers, mostly impatiens in a riot of pinks and oranges and reds that made the warm summer day seem loud somehow. She stepped out of the heat and into the cool air of the Women’s Center lobby. A bright smile on the face of a receptionist she felt she’d already seen too much of told her that she was recognized.
Of course she was… wasn’t she just here last week; And the week before? That’s when the nightmare had started… it had been so innocent, that first appointment. Just a “routine” check up on her over 40 body. Nothing to worry about Dr. Woods had said, we do this for everyone your age.
Two weeks ago, this was a routine checkup. Today it was not so routine. She stepped up to the receptionist and signed her name on the clipboard. “Rachel” was the name on the receptionists nametag. She smiled and told Marina to have a seat, the doctor would be with her soon.
Marina smiled politely, took a seat, and grabbed a magazine from the table. She quickly opened it and began to scan the pages as she thought. She wondered just what she would tell the kids if this was something bad. How would they take the news? Brianna would probably react the way ten year olds react to everything – emotionally. Evan on the other hand, would bottle his feelings up, refuse to talk, and probably get in trouble at school. That’s what he had done when they first told the kids about the divorce.
Even at six, Evan had understood, maybe better than the rest of them what the “D-word” meant. He didn’t like it and he let them know it. Fights, arguments, and serious acting out had prompted Marina to take both children to see a therapist. There, Evan had come to terms, even accepted the divorce and now, after a year – was doing so much better. What would this do to his ability to cope?
Marina shoved the thoughts aside and reminded herself that she really should think positively about this. Even Dr. Woods had told her that it was probably nothing. Just a fibroid cyst. Best-case-scenario.
Marina Parks? The nurse called her name and Marina stood laying the magazine back on the table. Picking up her purse she strode across the room to the open door, and the smiling nurse. “Just down here to Dr. Woods office, you won’t need an exam room today” the nurse said.
“Thank you” said Marina as she took a seat across the massive oak desk. The room seemed large, and was filled with antique furnishings. An old cherry breakfront graced the space in front of the windows, it was polished to a high enough shine that the sunlight coming in through the windows sparkled like diamonds on its surface. Photographs of smiling babies, new mothers, and families graced its top like so many trophies in a case. Dr. Woods had delivered lots of babies in her time. She had delivered Marina’s own children. She had even given Marina her first “adult” checkup. She was more than a doctor, she was a friend. As she waited Marina scanned the faces in the photos, picking out Evan and Brianna in the group.
Dr. Woods came into the office and sat at her desk. Tall and thin, with barely any gray hair; she looked much younger than her sixty plus years. She smiled at Marina as she opened the chart on her desk. Marina’s breath caught in her chest, the apprehension was killing her.
‘Well, Marina, we have gotten the results of your biopsy back, and I’m afraid we are going to have to do some more tests.” She started out by saying. “Marina, the biopsy showed that this lump is cancer.” She said in one quick rush of words. Marina tried to focus on what she said next, but the words seemed to be such a blur. “Marina, we need to discuss a plan here” Dr. Woods said after a few minutes.
“Yes, Dr. Woods” she said quietly, “We do – what are our options?” She looked across the desk at the woman who had been caring for her for so many years and wondered what the next few would look like.
“Well, first of all, we need to do some blood work and a couple of follow up tests to see if we got it all in biopsy, and to see if it has spread anywhere”. Dr. Woods replied, then continued “We also need to get you to an Oncologist who can start you on a treatment plan immediately”. She said.
As she spoke, Dr. Woods opened her desk and pulled out two business cards. Dr. Mary Crocker, and Dr. Steven Marshall were the names on the cards she slid across the desk to Marina. Included was an informational pamphlet on breast cancer, and what to do now that she had been diagnosed.
Marina sat and stared at the cards and the pamphlet. She couldn’t bring herself to take the papers from Dr. Woods desk. After a few minutes of staring at the floor, the desk, and her lap, she looked up at Dr. Woods, her eyes glistening… “How do I tell my children”? She asked, just before the dam broke and the sobs wracked her body.
|This is Part I of a series on breast cancer. It is purely fictional, any resemblance to persons alive or dead is coincidental and not intended.|