Being radiated is not my favorite pastime. They took some more shots and this time they asked me to wait. The images were read by the radiologist and then they asked me to speak to him directly. He explained what he saw on the x-rays. He felt strongly that it was cancer cells and I was told to make an appointment to have a biopsy which I did. The doctor called me “young lady” and then the nurse, when she escorted me back through the maze of rooms to the dressing rooms (or undressing rooms) and she also called me “young lady”. There is very little in life that sets my teeth on edge but this is one of those phrases that do. It is like saying ‘You are a silly old lady who is so vain, that if I call you ‘young lady’ you will dissolve into a giggly euphoria.” At the age of 72 I have accomplished a lot in my life, so it is also like dismissing all of that in those two cutting words. I looked her in the eye and said I find those words to be condescending and supercilious. I noticed the doctor used the words also. Please never again address me as a ‘young lady’”. She was very apologetic and I certainly hope that she does not plan to insult any other mature women with that trivializing phrase.
At the biopsy, in addition to taking some tissue from my lymph nodes and breast, they put in markers around the lump. I don’t know if I naturally have a high tolerance for pain or if I have trained myself to refocus and ignore pain, but it bothers me much less than others. The doctor and nurses were amazed. While they were busy doing what they had to do, I amused them with some stories about Israel.
They said they would notify me with the results. For some reason known only to them, they could not reach me.
In Cincinnati, my main volunteer work is doing taharias (it is the process of getting a body ready for burial in accordance with Jewish laws and customs). For more information on taharias and all other Jewish laws, traditions and customs associated with death, please see e-shiva.com
For the past five years I was ordered to get a colonoscopy. I usually took the authorizing slip and stuffed it in the bottom of my purse. This year I decided I would actually go through with it. I went to the drugstore to get something to empty my bowels (at the cost of over $80!) and took it. I was then picked up to do a taharia. I thought it would be hours before the meds would go to work. I told the driver. She said, “I don’t want you to poop in my car. I think we should get a replacement for you.” The taharia team consists of four people (women for women and men for men) and we were picking up the third and parked in front of her house. When the third entered the car, the discussion continued as to whether I should opt out and my phone rang. I stepped out of the car to take the call. It was my doctor. “I am sorry to inform you that you have cancer.”
I stuck my head in through the car window and told them I would go home. With my dark sense of humor I thought this was absurd. What comedy team could have had better timing? Then, as I raced home for the evacuation I was told would happen by the driver for the taharia, I asked myself, is my life being flushed down the toilet?.
To be continued