It is Wednesday. Our daughter Lise is at the seaside with her friend, Hanne, staying with Hanne’s grandparents. Last week, Hanne stayed with us at our place, two teenage girls enjoying the start of their summer vacation, without a care in the world. After the COVID quarantaine during the spring, it feels as if our life is resuming its cozy course. Not fully as we know it, because the virus is still circulating, but still.
The past couple of days have been quite intense: on July 1, I started a new job. I quit my previous job because, over the years, what the job offered drifted apart from what I value in life. I love thriving as part of a team, this rare blend of hard work and human joy. When in early January, my dearest friend Elisabeth told me they were seeking to hire, I didn’t hesitate and sent in my resume. Already during the job interviews, I felt a connection. After handing in my resignation letter, I couldn’t wait for it to be July 1. Since last week, every day I am being introduced to new colleagues. Despite them being digital phenomena on my screen, due to COVID-imposed home working, I’m fully comfortable that I have made the right choice. There seems to be a bonding between them, a collective consciousness that I have not felt for years.
I don’t work on Wednesday afternoons. This afternoon I have the annual check-up of my breasts, and then I will drive to the seaside to pick up Lise. It’s more than a two hour drive. I will take the opportunity to visit our horse Star, who is boarded close by. She was born two years ago, a most beautiful foal of Desert, our beloved mare. I took care of Star for the first nine months. It took patience to win her confidence. She had so much to learn, and so had I. Over the months, we evolved from she dragging me with her into the pasture in a cartoon-mode to us neatly walking together side by side. She has the great character of her mom. Seeing her grow up fulfilled me with joy. One more year and she will move back to us and we will start riding her, part two of the foal adventure. Visiting Star is always something I look forward to. I get to see her a only a couple of times a year, meaning I’m always curious to see how she has evolved. After visiting Star, I will drive to Hanne’s grandparents. No doubt we will lose track of time talking, much to the joy of the children. When the summer evening settles in, Lise and I will enjoy the ride back home. Lise is never at a loss for words. You cannot tell what you will talk about, but you know for sure that you will talk endlessly and that it will be most pleasant.
I park my car at the medical center, register and take a seat in the waiting area. I doesn’t take long before I’m called in. This is good, I will have loads of time to enjoy the afternoon. The doctor starts the medical exam, and we talk a bit. I have many cysts in my breasts, the reason why I cannot make sense of anything I feel when palpating them. I had felt a new lump recently, as I had felt many in previous years. As those have consistently been harmless, it hasn’t worried me. The doctor slides the sensor over my collection of cysts. “You can live to be a hundred with those.” she says. I gladly accept that statement. “So where is this new lump you felt?” she asks me. I point it out, and as she goes over it, I confirm that’s right where it is. “This is different though.” she says. I don’t panic, different from a cyst doesn’t mean cancer. I am quiet, so not to disturb her. At the end of a seemingly endless silence, she tells me more exams will be needed, but it probably is cancer. I’ll need a mammography, and a biopsy. The mammogram can be taken right away. I am lead into a different room. While undressing for the second time, I text my husband “Aidan!”. During the mammogram, in the dark comfort of the room, I am literally shaking and tears run down my cheeks. I cannot believe this is happening. The nurse feels sorry for me and offers me a coffee in their private corner to calm down before driving back. I sit down and call Aidan, who already sensed something was awfully wrong based on my text message. The doctor comes back in and I hang up. He calls me back, I miss the call, I call back in tears, I am in a state of shock. I decide I can’t sit here all day. I finish my coffee, walk out of the medical center and drive the car to the exit of the parking lot. Left is to the seaside, right is back home. I consider driving to the seaside. After all, there’s no absolute certainty it is cancer. But that means four hours of driving. I wisely turn right.