Monday, April 27, 2009 I remember when my friend Darlene was diagnosedwith breast cancer. “It’s Stage IV,” she whispered, like she could change the truth if she didn’t say it out loud. “Do you know what that means?”
Her eyes begged me to tell her it wasn’t true but I wanted to scream, “God, yes! I know what that means.” Instead I took her hand and just nodded and listened.<PREVIEWEND>
“You get regular mammograms, don’t you?” Her eyes were huge and hollow-looking as they darted back and forth from me to the IV that trailed from her arm.
“Had one in December to check a sore spot on my right breast,” I said. “But it’s OK.”
I could feel Darlene quiver on the other end of my hand. “I’m proof they make mistakes.” She sat upright and leaned toward me. “You need to get that checked again.” Her grip was firm, her tone almost frantic. “Promise me you’ll get it checked.”
I promised to get another mammogram but I didn’t tell her how much I knew about cancer: that I was 12 when my father died of cancer, or that I was 37 when my late husband died of cancer as well. I didn’t tell her that every time I put on my bra or my arm brushed against my breast, I felt the sore spot doctors told me was OK, or that I still checked it multiple times a day to see if it had changed.
I never had the chance to tell Darlene that three weeks later I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but Darlene, this is for you. Thank you for saving my life.