By: Sandra Mitchell
“You might want to look the other way.”
Michelle, the technician, has a large needle in her hand that looks as if she could crochet a yarny sweater.
Instead, she will use it to prick my skin and inject a dye into my arm that will ooze through my body….seeking out irregular cells.
“Are you okay?” She asks, her voice a warm syrup of concern.
I smile and nod, not daring enough to say out loud: “That’s what I am here to find out.”
As I approach the one year mark of my breast cancer diagnosis, I have returned to Pink Lotus Breast Center (pink smocks! pink flowers! pink ipad covers!) to have a CESM. Approved by the FDA just 9 months ago, Pink Lotus is the first commercial institute in the U.S. to use Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography.
A clear cord that looks like it came from a 1970s telephone spirals directly into the IV line in my arm. I feel the iodine saturate my body.
An intense warmth in my lungs, my abdomen, my throat and eventually across my back. 85 milliliters of assurance. If there is a cancer cell in my chest it will illuminate on my mammogram within minutes.
I notice a bright red drop spreading across my waffley robe. “Is that the dye?” I ask.
“No.” The doctor answers this time. “That’s your blood.” The dye is clear.” I feel woozy then…as if the SoCal coastal fog has drifted into the exam room.
Within moments I am on my feet for the mammogram, an awkward stretch of positioning arms and shoulders. Michelle and I locked in a fictive sort of Twister Game. (“Right hand…yellow!”)
The doctor is a peripheral shape of authority in the corner. As he studies my x rays. I study him. His face a crystal ball for my medical future.
Finally his proclamation: “They look good. That’s just preliminary though.”
Within moments, Dr. Kristi Funk gives the final decree. “The mammograms looks good. No worries.”
The next day I am back at work and bump into my general manager. Amid the busy newsroom, he takes time to ask about my health. I tell him about yesterday’s test results.
“It’s behind you.” He says, a man of confidence. He too is a cancer survivor. “You are blessed.”
And I know he is right. The fog is gone.