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[Untitled] by Ashlee Cermak

by: Ashlee Cermak

i found out about the lump in my right breast three weeks before i got married. it was my first visit with a new gynecologist, a round and rosy woman with accolades on the wall certifying her fluency in russian. i took russian in college for half a semester but dropped out the day before the first exam. ironically, the only phrase i remember is a toast that means “to your health.”

there i was—legs spread wide because i don’t care, ass cheeks sweating as the doctor performed a breast exam, prodding my tits with her gloved hands. she kept her eyes on me and we chatted about my upcoming wedding. then her brow furrowed and she broke her gaze. she prodded some more and asked if i knew i had a lump in my breast. no, can’t say i did. she asked if i had a family history of breast cancer and i rattled on about my great-grandmother having her breast removed in the ‘40s. she asked about my grandmothers’ history; my paternal grandmother is cancer-free and so was my maternal grandmother until she died in a car accident when my mom was 15. as for my mother’s history, i couldn’t say. i told the doctor how my parents are poor and don’t have insurance. i have no idea the last time my mom received any medical care. the doctor pursed her lips and said i’d better make an appointment for a breast ultrasound. don’t worry, she cooed, the imaging clinic is conveniently located in the same building. how nice.

she coaxed me to scoot my ass just a little closer to the edge of the exam table and soon finished inspecting my vagina. she left and i wiped myself of the jelly they smear on the forceps to make sure the metal slides in easy and got dressed. then i walked across the hallway to the imaging clinic—so convenient—and scheduled an appointment for a breast ultrasound with the lady at the front desk. she said i’d have to wait until the following monday. i distractedly agreed and walked out. i had to get to work. cars whizzed by on the suburban main drag as i walked in the grass because there was no sidewalk.

when i got to work i felt a lump—haha—rise in my throat and i went to the bathroom to fight it down. there a co-worker asked if i was alright and i burst into tears. i was coughing and sputtering but was able to choke out they found a lump and i wouldn’t know if i had cancer until next week. i couldn’t work and called my husband, sobbing, to be picked up. he told me later he thought i was laughing when he first answered his phone. i spent the rest of the day in bed. disgusted with my body, i didn’t want to feel the weight of my breasts so i wore a bra all the time.