You’re so young [for breast cancer]…


“You’re so young” [for breast cancer], they tell me.
Yet doctor files after doctor
and my breast sees more action in two hours
than it has in the past three years.

My phone rings with the voices of strangers
who babble foreign words,
asking for decisions and plans of attack
to problems I cannot comprehend.

I am invincible
because I am twenty-nine
and “so young” [for breast cancer].

They cut out my flesh
and leave vicious bruises
that mimic the bruises
to my ego and my heart.

As my body heals,
bruises fading,
my mind fractures,
waiting.

The word “benign” becomes invaluable,
and I grasp for it like gold.
My knees buckle when I hear it
reverberating in my ear,
filling me with a wealth
I never knew I lacked.

I keep my balance
though my head is spinning
after days and nights of waiting,
waiting and fearing, comprehending
how my own body has betrayed me.

I used to think I was invincible
because at twenty-nine,
the world is still a blossom of possibility
and I am neither young nor old.
I am strong and resilient
and I am “so young” [for breast cancer].

I know that Breast Cancer Awareness Month was last month. But I have only just now felt ready to put this out there. Recently I had a breast cancer scare. I never imagined experiencing this in my life. There is very little history of this disease in my family and I am really young for that sort of concern, statistically speaking. But when I went in for my annual appointment in September, the doctor found a lump in my breast that she didn’t like. I was sent on to mammography and ultrasound. The radiologists didn’t like what they saw so I was pushed onward to have a biopsy. My biopsy came back benign, but I have other concerns which requires more invasive surgery as a preventative measure.

Each time I get passed off to a new doctor or tech, the first thing they do is marvel at the fact that I am their patient. Usually I am left feeling uneasy or wondering if something more is wrong. I still don’t really understand what it is they are trying to convey when they say “You’re so young.” And yet, despite my “youth”, the process keeps moving forward and I move deeper into a world I never imagined inhabiting—a place where people use words I cannot understand and am constantly looking them up and where I prepare for surgery.

I know I am so very lucky to have not had anything malignant. But the strange thing is, the experience continues anyway. Things don’t go back to normal like you expect them to when you are told that your tests came back “benign.” At least, not in this instance. I guess that’s a fantasy left over from watching movies and television shows.

Anyway, thanks for reading along. Next week, we will be back to our regularly scheduled literary program (and a long reprieve from my amateur poetry)!


To any friends or family who I have not yet had a chance to tell what has been going on:

I apologize if this is the way you have found out about this.
I have been working my way towards telling everyone and
I promise that you have not been excluded for any reason.

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