On Dec. 23 of 2021, I was on the phone with a young colleague. I had just had a routine mammogram. I expected a letter saying that I was good to go until next year. But I saw the film in the room. I saw the array of calcifications, and I knew something was different.
Like Katie Couric, I have dense breast tissue. My science self makes me wonder if this is because I did not breast feed my babies. My OBGYN for years used to call me “Lumpy Libby,” and he was right. I have been pretty diligent in getting yearly mammograms for that reason. There were two surgical biopsies for suspicious calcifications in the late 1990s. I think I always thought the other shoe would drop. It finally did.
They told me not to open the report that came on MyChart, but I couldn’t resist. Invasive Ductile Carcinoma. I told my friend on the phone, “That sounds like cancer to me.” Why, yes it does. So shortly before Christmas, my journey into the world of cancer began. More testing. Planting radioactive seeds. Surgery in February. Radiation until May 5, 2022. Cinco de Mayo in the treatment room with glitter, leis and intermittent music was a celebration to remember.
The experience of cancer and all that surrounds it is a roller coaster of emotion to begin with. Then the routine of driving to the UNC Rex Cancer Center became pretty normal. I liked the people there. The guys doing valet service, the women on the front desk. Sandy in the radiation treatment lobby always had flowers and a big smile. Martha, Tim and the others in the treatment room were friendly and competent. I always felt at ease.