I began to notice changes in my boob a little over a year ago in January 2011. Though the doctors assure me that the Death Star was likely not there then, that is when I first became of aware of “something.” I was just getting toward the end of an episode of pneumonia when I began to experience occasional and fleeting pains that pierced my right boob. Of course, I went to the interwebs to give myself a complete diagnosis. Clearly it was cyclical. Probably related to hormonal changes associated with pre-menopause. I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
It continued for some months—always cyclical—and then, in May, I called my GYN to investigate. After my annual exam all seemed normal, she was not particularly alarmed, but urged me to get a mammogram as a matter of course. I immediately tacked the prescription for the mammogram to my refrigerator door where it lives to this day. I am not a particularly health conscious individual, so unless you smack me and demand “Get thee to mammography,” chances are I’ll do nothing.
Fast forward one year, the sharp pains were essentially gone. But there was this boob that looked increasingly different. I wasn’t alarmed, but clearly my subconscious was.
I mentioned the odd boob to my mother. A woman of 82 she said, ”Oh I know, age does so many things to your body. You should check with your doctor, though.” See? Nothing wrong. I mentioned it to a friend. “You should always go to the doctor, but we are getting older and maybe the body is just shifting about. Still, you should see your doctor.” See? Body’s just shifting about. Nothing wrong.
I always make my annual professional conference reservations the first week of June. But I held off. I was having dreams; dreams that my boob was hurting. I would wake up at night—was it in the dream that it hurt or did it really hurt? I had more dreams; dreams that a doctor was telling me that there was a problem and I would need surgery. That was a scary dream, but just a dream. I had more dreams; dreams that I was telling my boss that I would be away the first week of August for a procedure. It was just a dream—but an increasingly creepy dream.
June turned to July and I had not made one move toward reservations for August’s conference. I kept putting it off—something I almost never do for this event. I began every day by reminding myself to call the doctor, but I would go home every night forgetting to do just that. And I would dream. More dreams about more doctors. More dreams about more pain. More dreams about more surgery. And then the dream in which I had breast cancer. It was one of those weird dreams where you don’t recall any storyline, just the powerful reality that in that dream I had breast cancer. And it stayed with me for a few days.
I look back on this now and see how my conscious and subconscious were in a battle of wills. It was as if the subconscious was tapping my brain constantly and ever harder until it could break through a seemingly impenetrable wall of conscious denial. And even though I made an appointment with my GYN, I would still reschedule for one week in the future. My child conscious just did not want to listen to my adult subconscious.
As the weeks unfolded I realized that I would not be going to the annual conference. I sat across from the surgeon who told me that I had a carcinoma. My conscious and subconscious selves had at once merged into a single moment. It was a moment in which I accepted responsibility for my folly and then vowed to move forward constructively.
I sleep much better these days, even in the wake of knowing that I have cancer. I dream of cats, friends, robots, flying, and familiar science fiction themes. My subconscious rests easy; its mission to wake a stubborn dreamer finally complete.