The author of "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" describes a situation that most post-menopausal women worry about -- a routine visit that ends with a biopsy:
The biopsy report came back a few days later while I was with my GYN in her office (a long standing appointment). It was good that I wasn't alone and that she, who has been my doctor for seventeen years, could explain it to me. Very early. Very small. Well differentiated. All good news.
But it was ductal carcinoma.
Wait – me? There’s no breast cancer in my family (recent extensive genetic testing shows no genetic connection). I haven’t eaten red meat in more than 30 years. I’ve never smoked, I exercise every day, forget alcohol -- it’s bad for my reflux -- I’ve been the same weight my whole adult life. How is this possible? Well, guess what – it’s possible.
Her main message, though, is that bad news tests us in ways we don't expect; that we can never predict what our reactions will be. In a few breezy paragraphs, Blume describes the complex range of emotions she experienced after being diagnosed, "I'd read Betty Rollin's book, First You Cry, long ago -- but for whatever reason I didn't cry. I choked up that first day, but the tears didn’t flow. This is neither good nor bad. It just surprised me." She leaves out few details -- even explaining how getting a mastectomy wasn't a tough decision to make for her, because, "Maybe because my breasts have never defined my sexuality. Who knows?"
Though the subject is a somber one, her message is inspiring. Blume's surgery went well and she is "feeling stronger every day," assuring women that "When it comes to breast cancer you’re not alone, and scary though it is, there’s a network of amazing women to help you through it."