"OK Sue. You can get dressed and meet me in my office." Dr. Kerswell said. Sue waited for her doctor to leave the room before she took the paper drape from her lower body, crumpling it before she tossed it into the trash can.
She got dressed quickly and made her way across the hall to the open door of Marion Kerswell's office. Her doctor was in her late fifties, but looked much younger. Sue determined her age by the graduation years on the diplomas hanging on her wall. She had completed college, and med school in Massachusetts, specializing in women's health. The office was decorated more like a den of a home than a doctor's office. The shelves along the walls were made of thick curved glass and held an array of proud family photographs. Sue'd been there enough to know the stories behind most of the pictures. She smiled when she entered the office, a new frame had taken its place on the high shelf just to the right of the doctor's desk. It was Marion and her youngest daughter at her high school graduation. The girl was the spitting image of her mother. She was slender with a face full of freckles, shoulder length strawberry blonde hair, bright green eyes that sparkled when she was happy. Sue had seen that look, that sparkle- but not today.
"Hi Dr. Kerswell. Can I come in?" Sue asked hesitantly.
"Oh, sure, come in Sue." She said. "Close the door behind you, ok?" She continued. Marion continued to write in Sue's chart, then handed her a card with a time and date scribbled on it.
"What's this?" Sue asked. "Is everything alright?" She asked, suddenly feeling a rock form in the pit of her stomach.
"Have you ever had a mammogram Sue? I don't see it marked in your chart." She asked calmly.
"No. Is something wrong?" She asked nervously.
"Maybe not. Is there a history of breast cancer in your family? On either side?" Dr. Kerswell asked. Sue's face drained of blood, leaving her light headed. There were a ton of questions, random thoughts that rushed through her mind all at once.
"Uhh…" Was all she got out. She scrunched her eyes together, trying to regain some focus. Sue looked down at the card, her fingers shaking so hard, she could hardly see the writing. "I don't know. I think maybe my father's aunt… I- I don't know." Sue stumbled.
Marion reached across her desk, and took Sue's hand in her own squeezing it lightly.
"Sue. It might be nothing." She said, trying to reassure her. "What I felt was very small. It might be thickened fatty tissue. It might be nothing." She stressed. A small smile curved on the corner of her mouth. "Sue, I just want to take a look. I want to make sure, that's all." She said again.
"This is for tomorrow morning. Are you that concerned?" Sue asked, her eyebrows pushed together.
"Yes." She simply said. "It's better to be safe, right? If it's something of concern, we're ahead of the game." She said. "Look, try not to think the worst. You need to go, get the mammogram done, and we'll see what the radiologist says. If he or she doesn't see anything, you're in the clear." The doctor said. "Tomorrow morning, in the x-ray department at the hospital, 7:15. Don't wear any kind of powder or deodorant. I'll call you."
"Dr. Kerswell, this isn't… couldn't be… cancer, could it? I mean, I'm too young, right? I mean, that's not what you're thinking… is it?" Sue asked in disbelief.
"I'm thinking I felt something that shouldn't be there. I want someone who knows what they're looking at to examine you. I don't want to jump three steps ahead. As I said, it could be nothing." The doctor said, trying to make sue comfortable.
With that Sue walked out of the office. Her head was in a fog. She felt tears sting her eyes and fall onto her cheeks. She made it back to her car, but wasn't really sure how. She turned the key and the fan from the air conditioner blew hot air at her face. Sue could feel a sinking feeling in her chest, a heaviness, she could hardly catch her breath. Her hands were shaking violently as she tried to shift the car into drive. Sue let her head lean onto the steering wheel, and the tears fell. It was nearly ten minutes when she regained some sense of composure- enough to at least be able to drive. As she lifted her head from the wheel, she caught a passing glance of herself in the rear view. Sue put her head against the head rest, clinching her eyes tight, fighting back more tears. She suddenly, and violently slammed her fists- palms down- onto the steering wheel over and over as a primal scream came from deep inside her. Her whole body trembled, tears poured from her eyes.
Memories of her father's sister dying from breast cancer when Sue was in high school came flooding back. Sue made her way to the coffee shop near the park intending to order an iced latte. As she got out of her car, she noticed a small church on the corner. A short stroll led her to the steps. She climbed them, and made her way to a pew near the front. She knelt and put her head on her hands and talked to God.
"Hi God. I'm so scared… I can't even think straight. Why is this happening to me? Why me? What have I done?" She asked silently. Tears sprinkled her cheeks again. "I don't think I can do this. Why? Why would you do this to me? Make me go through this? Why?!" She asked, screaming in her head. The tears fell harder onto her face. Sue gritted her teeth, trying to get some control. Her chest was so heavy, it was so hard for her to breathe. She couldn't control her emotions anymore, and pulled her arms tightly around herself, and sobbed. She sat for a while, she didn't know how long. She was still staring at the floor, in silent thought. She wasn't exactly talking to God anymore, just thinking. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder. It didn't scare her as it usually did when a stranger touched her. She looked up, her vision blurred from tears. She scrambled in her pocket for a tissue, but one was handed to her.
"Thank you." She said, wiping her eyes and nose.
"Are you alright miss?" The man asked. Sue shook her head. "Can I help?" He asked. Again Sue shook her head. It was then that Sue looked up to see a man of the cloth standing over her.
"I'm sorry. I needed a place to think…pray." She said. She looked at the man as he sat in the pew in front of her, and noticed he was a Rabi. She smiled in embarrassment.
"No worries, he listens no matter where you are." He said reassuringly. "I'm sure it doesn't matter to him that you're in a synagogue." He teased. Sue smiled, appreciative for the break in seriousness.
"Is there anything I can do? I've been told I'm a pretty good listener." He said. Sue shook her head.
"No thank you. I received some bad news today, that's all. I think I needed to cry about it a bit." She paused. "I know I'm not supposed to question Him, but how… how do I not?" She shook her head and pushed herself off the bench. The preacher touched her upper arm.
"Are you angry with Him?" he asked. Sue nodded. "Don't beat yourself up over that, it's normal. It too shall pass. "Miss…. If you find you want someone to talk to, this is where you can find me." He said, holding out his hand for her. She took the hand and left feeling a bit better.
She walked around the park, sipping her iced drink slowly. As the steps increased, so did her control. The stop at the temple, and her conversation with God had helped. She felt right again, able to face her closest friend without giving away her secret, and able to face the possibility of having cancer. She didn't see the point of telling any of them before there was something to tell. Her anger had passed, but loomed just under the surface. With that reality, she decided work wasn't where she wanted to be.
An hour later, the puffiness and redness in her eyes had gone away. She had fixed her makeup, and taken back her self-confident stride. She cautiously opened the door to her apartment, readying her excuse for not being at work for Lucy. She was relieved to see that Lucy had already gone out for the night with a new friend, a cute new male friend.
She took a long hot bath, nearly falling asleep in the bubbles. The day dragged on for what seemed like forever. Sue decided after a quick bite, a quick walk for Levi and his dinner served, she was going to go to bed, which is exactly what she did.