Being diagnosed with breast cancer and the subsequent surgeries and treatments was a time marked by many appointments and tests with everyone from my surgeon and oncologist to chemo nurses and prosthetic fitters.
That also meant a variety of locations, waiting areas, exam rooms, imaging centers, and medical facilities. One area in particular I ended up dubbing my “cancer apex.” It included the hospital where I had the MRI and ultrasound that ultimately helped discover the “suspicious area” in my right breast. Then, the radiology center where I had the MR-guided biopsy that sealed my fate as cancer patient. Next, I would need an oncologist to help me determine next steps and a cancer center that could provide them.
These three are still in the same locations, within an area where you can literally see one from the other and then drive around the next corner and see the third one. My cancer apex.
Even today when I go to the cancer center for my annual visits, I feel the emotional pull and the physical unease I associate with a trying and frightening time in my life.
It is not unusual to have facilities close together like this … but I hadn’t ever needed this many and I hadn’t really thought about it. They are located fairly close to my job, and that made sense as far as getting to appointments on time and missing less work.
Of course, a cancer diagnosis tends to put a job in perspective like nothing else could. But it was still important to me to keep the normalcy in my routine as much as possible. The distraction created by my job was also a healthy aspect when fearful and worrisome thoughts could take over in an instant.
My cancer apex didn’t become so until several things happened. When an MRI was recommended, I went here:
A week later I returned here for an ultrasound. The radiologist’s recommendations included waiting 6 months and checking again or having a MR-guided biopsy. With my family history, I wasn’t waiting.
Around the corner from the hospital, this radiology center is where I had the biopsy:
The hospital in the first picture is right across the street. I had my chemo treatments, many blood draws, oncology appointments, a couple of PET scans and other appointments at this cancer center.
It seemed I was often one of the youngest patients in the waiting area. You could usually tell who the patients were; marked by chemo caps, sunken faces, slow walks. That waiting area was chock-full of emotions for me and everyone there. You could feel it in the air, the unsettling and unfair nature of cancer was almost palpable.
Then, at the height of my treatments and surgery, and now, as a patient so very grateful to be classified as NED (no evidence of disease), mostly I return to the gratitude. Deep gratitude. To be here. To be alive and well.