In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 21: Another Man’s Hands. Susan’s first exam with her oncologist took place just a few days after he was selected. “The nurse came out to take Susan into the exam room and I insisted on being in the exam room with Susan and Dr. Blonder.*” The impulse to be in the room was spur-of-the-moment. I don’t know what I expected when we walked into the exam room. This seemed different, more akin to a gynecological visit. I had not been present for any of the breast exams or post-surgical exams by the surgeon. The norm, I expect, would be for the doctors to do the physical exams in the privacy of a treatment room. Then the three of us would meet in the doctor’s office to discuss the results so that both of us would hear the same words. I can’t explain the impulse. Maybe it was because “we ran into friends” in the waiting room. “We didn’t know that Tybee was sick and she looked just awful. The aura and ambience of the waiting room was dark.” Whatever the reason I “insisted on being in the exam room with Susan and Dr. Blonder." I stood toward the back of this small exam room. The classic exam table in front on my right for Susan to lay on, covered with white paper over the brown plastic cushions. A sink and materials on the counter to the left. No window. The door to my back with a wall phone sitting to the right as you faced the door. It was uncomfortable for me as Susan took her top off and laid down. She seemed perfectly comfortable and matter-of-fact. I squirmed not sure what to feel. Then Dr Blonder puts on his gloves and reaches down and puts his hands on Susan’s bare chest. “How strange is it to watch another man put his bare hands” on my wife’s chest. I squirmed. Susan seemed to smile at me in an effort to reassure me. Dr. Blonder was running his finger down the lips of the incision.
Stat of the Day: Arizona. According to the CDC in 2012 was the State with both the lowest incidence of female breast cancer and the lowest death rate. Minnesota on the other is among the states with the highest incidence of female breast cancer AND among the states with the lowest death rates.
Task of the Day: I think it is useful, though uncomfortable, for men whose wives are going to undergo a mastectomy to look at pictures. There will always be anticipation but knowing what to expect is helpful and can prepare you for that “first look.” There isn’t a great source for these pictures but as between Google and Bing, I preferred Bing.
Resource of the Day: A good article for women dealing with the post-mastectomy blues.
*Dr. Blonder is the character in the play. It is not the real name of Susan’s Oncologist.