I have bad genetics. Aside from being half southern white trash and half LA Mexican, my family has health problems. Dad’s side is mostly addiction. By that, I mean that is literally all I know in the way of their medical history. Mom’s side, however, has cancer. Lots of it. My grandma had cancer, both her sisters got cancer, her parents both had cancer, my grandad had cancer, his sisters got cancer… I’m going to die of cancer, or a cancer related complication. I’ve more or less come to terms with this.
When I was a kid, I was suspected of having skin cancer. They removed the area, left a terrible scar, and my mom kept me out of the sun for thirteen years. The primary thing I take away from that is that my chances of shark attack increased, and my sensitivity to the sun skyrocketed.
Shark attack? I hear you say it… I grew up in a little Florida town called Pensacola. Pensacola has beautiful beaches, and is where Jaws was shot. Taking me to the beach in the late afternoon, close to twilight, seemed logical, but after watching so much Shark Week, I found out that shark attacks happen at twilight, in shallow water. Also, for the record, Jaws was based on bull shark attacks, but great whites are scarier looking… I love sharks.
When I was fourteen, I got my first ever pelvic exam. I bounced my pap, and had to have an abdominal exam, because, as it turns out, I have poly cystic ovaries and an enlarged ovary. That was scary. Then when I was seventeen, after three years of bouncing paps and getting retested, I bounced a pap and at the re-pap this woman doctor, who I will hold a grudge against for the rest of natural life, came into the room, looked at my chart, and without looking up said,
Oh, you don’t need a re-pap. We think you have cancer; that’s a different test.
Then, she turned and walked out the room, leaving a seventeen year old me having a panic attack over the word CANCER. Thankfully, my primary did the test a few days later, and I was totally fine. It was just some vinegar on my cervix. Easy. Also, she went on to explain that many young women bounce paps and for this reason or another, they do this test just to be sure. However, she doesn’t think that girls of that age should be doing paps, because they come back bad all the time.
That brings us to this week. I went to get my birth control on Sunday and I was out of refills… Which sucks. So, since they couldn’t refill, and the doctor I had seen was no longer at my doctor’s office to approve the refill, I had to wait a week to get into the doctor for a Well Woman physical.
Couple of things.
A, when I am not on my birth control, I am not right. They started me on it when I was fourteen, because I have hormone problems from the cystic ovary and the large one. So, I spent all week binge eating and being as emotionally stable as I really could be.
2, a Well Woman physical includes a breast exam, a pap, and blood work.
D, I was so god damn hungry that I felt nauseous, because I had to fast for the blood work.
Back to my physical. I saw a new doctor, who was very nice. She talked to me extensively about my family medical history, ways to cope with stress, as it contributed to my binge eating habits and my smoking habits, and explained different birth control options, as I needed to switch because my insurance changed and the new insurance doesn’t cover my beloved Nuvaring. She also got onto me for not doing self breast exams, not sleeping enough, and for smoking, in the nicest way possible.
During my exam, she noted my blood pressure was borderline high and asked that I check it a couple times a week, write it down, and come back. She also noted that I have a touch of Swimmer’s Ear, which is a small infection from using QTips (who freaking knew?!) and gave me a script for drops to fix that. Then, she did my breast exam, and found two abnormal…. Lumps.
Lumps, to me, implies something totally different than what she had me feel, but technically, that’s what they were. Two small nodules about the size of my finger tip (together) are in my right breast. She did some paperwork, and went on about how it’s probably nothing, since they move freely, as soft, and could easily just be swollen ducts from not being on birth control.
Meanwhile, I started crying. Not bawling, but I was crying. She apologized and told me it was okay, but that it’s better to be safe than sorry. She also explained that she couldn’t give me my birth control until after I had the beads of horror checked, because my birth control contains estrogen… And estrogen can make breast cancer grow exponentially faster than normal. Oh, and by the way, she’d already told me this when she talked about how glad she was that I wasn’t going to be on the Nuvaring anymore, because it has high levels of estrogen and I’m predisposed to cancer. Fantastic, RIGHT?
I kept it together through the pap, even though it hurt like a bitch, I was freaking out, and somehow she managed to trigger horrible spotting, so it became a horrible bloody mess out of a horror movie.
When I left, I called my mom to let her know I was on my way in… And I just fucking lost it. I lost it to the point that my mom told me to pull over and stay there. Then she, and our new hire, who happens to have known mom longer than I’ve been alive, came and got me. It was pretty horrible morning… But what sucks most is that I wouldn’t have lost it like that if I’d had my birth control.
I feel better now.
Gonna go to the bar tonight.
I go see Sally Jobe on Monday, and my mom will go with me, just in case.
Sooner or later I’m going to get cancer… Breast cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer… I’m gonna get cancer, and one day that cancer will probably kill me.