Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dandelion Days

June 15, 2006

Jane K. Andrews

I walked for the Cure for 3 reasons. 1.) I like to walk and sometimes I like to walk with friends. 2.) I get a tee-shirt that declares me a good person. 3.) My friend Gail’s mother has breast cancer, but Gail doesn’t know how she is faring because her mother has been estranged from Gail and her two brothers for 4 years. Disease did not draw the ties of family tighter. Still, I wrote Becky’s name on my tag. I wrote my friend Stephen’s name as well although he has thyroid cancer. A breakthrough in any cancer treatment I figure spells some hope for all cancer treatments. 4.) I am ridiculously superstitious and walking for the Cure makes me feel like I am propitiating the malevolent spirits of cellular chaos who may take it to mind to metastasize into terrorist cells attacking vital organs unless they are duly acknowledged with respect, awe, and a blister on the ball of the right foot.

Last summer I had my first mammogram. My friend Beth made me. She went with me to keep me from being nervous.

The technician, Jenny, said, “Sling ‘em on up there, Mrs. Andrews.”

I slung what I had and waited to receive the postcard Beth told me the radiologist would send me telling me everything was swell. I did not get a postcard. I got a letter. Not good. Any news from the radiologist that won’t fit on a postcard cannot be good news. I did not open the letter. I still have not opened it. I stared at it. I moved it from the dining room table to the buffet and back. I held it and tried to imagine that it was a letter praising my magnificent (if diminutive) mammaries. Finally, George, my OBGYN called me and said there was an “anomaly” in my mammogram and I needed a second one. Holy shit. I was ready to sign up for a drive-thru mastectomy. I am not vain enough to die fjust to look good in a sweater.

“I have a blip on my mammogram,” I told my friend Elaine.

“I’m going to think of this blip,” she said, “as a dandelion.”

I waited.

“You know how a dandelion goes to seed and you can just blow the seeds away? I am going to think that you will just blow this blip away like a dandelion.”

I was silent.

“Poof,” she added.

For the 6 days I waited for my retake appointment I took long walks and thought about breast cancer and dandelions. Whenever I started to panic, I blew a little puff of air, like a tiny Lamaze breath to make a wish and send the anomaly on my film floating away as harmless as down.

It wasn't until this Monday after the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure when it was time for another mammogram when it was time for another mammogram that I remembered the down of the dandelion sends seeds on the wind to bloom the next year.

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