The Thirty-Six LONG 5k

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging  machine drove me into auditory insanity with its otherworldly clangs and bangs. Think a Metallica concert inside a jet engine. I was placed face down on a table, where my boobs hung individually through two square holes. I went from a 36 DD to 36 LONG in a matter of seconds. 

As I ran my favorite 5k route this morning, my mind started replaying various stops on this breast cancer road trip so far, including this fun trip to the imaging center.

What fresh hell was this? Every now and then the technician’s voice would come through the headphones telling me the next round was to begin. How much time had passed? 30 minutes? Eternity? I didn’t know. I was concentrating on how I would handle being driven to permanent madness. Then the beautiful sound of silence. It was over.

That was almost a month ago, but time has become a strange concept for me. It feels like it was a year ago. 

The MRI was just one of the 1,398,432 diagnostic tests I would get to enjoy before a final plan to rid my body of this cancer.

How did I get here? It all started with an inverted nipple.

Back in June, as I was training to climb Mt. Rainier I noticed my breast seemed, well, odd. I was also feeling a bit of a burning pain. Nothing major, but I could feel it. I figured it was pectoral pain from lifting weights. But something was nagging at me. My annual mammogram was set for July 29, but I listened to my intuition, and went to the doctor in early July.  After her examination, she said “you might want to move that mammogram up”.

I got in for the mammo on July 17, two days before I left for Rainier. They included an ultrasound during that visit for good measure. At the end, the Radiologist said “We need you to come back for a biopsy”. 

She may as well have been speaking Chinese. I barely heard anything beyond the word ‘biopsy’.

Those words never left my head the whole time I was climbing Mt. Rainier. Five days after standing on the summit, I went for the biopsy that would ultimately confirm my suspicion:

It was breast cancer. 

I wrap up my favorite 5k route near my neighborhood. It clears my head. The endorphins keep me sane. My body feels good, and I am savoring every minute, as I don’t know how I will feel in the coming months. 

On Tuesday, I will have surgery to place the port to receive chemotherapy. My first treatment will be on Friday, Sept. 6th. The plan is to do the first 8-week round every other week. This will be followed by 12 weekly chemo treatments, taking me into January. 

The new year will begin with a double-mastectomy, followed eventually with reconstruction surgery.

I will happily tell these 36 LONGS, that tried to kill me, to eff off.

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