Self Exam

She was in the shower when she discoved them. One… two… three? Was there a third one? They were beneath her right breast, lined up along the bottom. Three lumps. Dammit.

She tried to think of all the things she had ever heard about breast cancer. Sadly, she hadn’t realised she would ever really need to know, and she barely remembered someone telling her once that if the lumps hurt, it was a good sign. That was what she had heard, right? Did these hurt? Was the pain supposed to be sharp, or dull, to count? Was there supposed to be a complete absence of pain? Her breasts had been tender all her adult life…

She shook her head, damp hair slapping her lightly across the cheek. She wasn’t sure. She knew she would have to go for a professional opinion. She knew she would have to go through testing. She knew this because she knew that if she tried to ignore this, all she would do was worry.

Three long days later, she was laying on a examining table at her family doctor’s office. Her blouse and bra neatly folded and left in a small changing closet, she had a paper sheet draped over her, tucked under her armpits when he walked in. A brief moment later, the right edge was folded back, revealing her breast.

He was a good doctor that had seen her through each little crisis for the last twenty plus years, and she hoped he would step back and smile and tell her many women panicked over a bit of swelling, that it was nothing. When he finally stepped back, she looked at him with hope.

He was not smiling. “I feel more than three. It could be any number of things. I can’t rule out cancer, but I’m not saying it is, either.”

Now she waits for the mammogram. A long wait. She has never had one before, and this is going to be a ‘complete’, meaning there will also be a sonogram to find if they are fluid-filled or solid.

She already has an oncologist. She was diagnosed with lymphoma two years and four months ago. The oncologist never does a breast exam, but asks each time if she has any new lumps. The next time she sees him, she will have to say she does.

I am she. This is a true story.

I’m scared.

Self Exam

Debbie Irwin

Odessa, United States

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Artist's Description

Another bump in ‘the road’…

Artwork Comments

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  • Debbie Irwin
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