I got the call on a Monday morning, after my regularly scheduled yearly mammogram on Friday.
They needed more pictures of a spot that showed up and wanted to do an ultrasound, as well. That’s all the information the woman scheduling appointments had, though she assured me that I would be given the results of those additional tests before I left my appointment the next day.
In a little more than twenty-four hours I would know what those spots were. What they meant. Whether they changed everything or nothing. Just more pictures. Just an additional test. I tried to tell myself. False positives are a thing I reminded myself. Except I’d had one of those before, last time I got a call like this. Could it really happen twice? Deep inhale and exhale– maybe just focus on breathing.
Except what If . . .
The next day, in the small waiting area in the imaging center, a woman sat down across from me. Both literally and figuratively in the space between two sets of tests. One step closer to the results we were promised we’d be given before we left. One step closer to knowing.
We shared that space briefly. Eyes meeting for a fleeting moment, the rest of our faces covered in masks, I noticed that she had also decided to wear eye makeup. Swiping on mascara that morning had been my middle finger to the unknown: I will NOT prepare for the worst. We both wore the same standard issue pink tops, open to the front, per instructions. Our own shirts and bras in plastic bags beside us.
She was reading a book that I’d just finished. A book I’d enjoyed so much I tried to read it extra slowly to make it last longer. I wondered if she felt the same way. I was getting ready to make a comment about the book, to offer a small distraction in this shared moment; when my name was called.
The news after that test was positive for me. A strange spot that had been there a few days before didn’t show up in these more detailed tests. Nothing of concern. Nothing to watch. Just back to the regularly scheduled yearly mammograms with the poignant reminder that life can change in a phone call. In an appointment. In a moment. A reminder that I know can so easily slip away into routine and deadlines and events.
I find myself thinking about the woman I shared space with for those few moments, hoping her news was good too. That she gets to savor the rest of that delicious novel without the baggage of a diagnosis or inconclusive results needing more tests. I wonder if she also feels the simultaneous relief and challenge inherent in life’s little second chances.