When I left work the evening before surgery, I wiped up my face and headed to my dress shop for my first-ever fitting in my brand new bridal gown. I felt so confused and not at all interested in the dress, although we took the time to try on different antique brooches and mess around with the train. The dress fit nearly perfect, although the proportions were slightly off, something I only realized later was the result of my own tugging. I was pulling it up, up, up in quite possibly some sort of strange desire to protect my breasts. It was bittersweet. Here I was wearing the bridal gown I had chosen above dozens of other gowns, the gown I was going to marry Preston in, and I couldn’t even enjoy the moment. My dress had arrived the week before, and this evening was the only day and time they could squeeze me in for a fitting. It was like some kind of sick joke meant only for some bad Lifetime movie. Any happiness I felt that evening was stunted by more pressing issues.
After leaving the shop with my mom, my sister, and my future mother-in-law, we headed to a restaurant where we would all meet up with Preston, my soon to be father-in-law, brother-in-law, and my uncle and aunt. We all sat at a long table and talked. I felt happy for a moment, surrounded by people I love and who love me. I wasn’t hungry and picked at my chicken wrap. I knew that when I got home I would need to pack my overnight bag, remove my nail polish, wash very carefully with the special antibacterial soap they had given to me. One last time I would need to contemplate the what ifs and emotionally prepare myself for the lymph node biopsy results. My mom had promised me that she would tell me the truth as soon as I woke up from surgery. Good or bad, I appreciated the honesty our family has more than anything. We protect each other in that way.
I didn’t feel I needed to bid farewell to my breast. After all, it did try to kill me. So I prepared the best I could, and in the morning, I showered again with the special soap before Preston took me to the hospital at 6:45 that morning. At the surgery check-in desk, they asked Preston to wait in the waiting room while they took me to my own private patient waiting room. While all other patients were taken to a general holding area with beds separated by just flimsy, ugly curtains, I was given a private room with bathroom, my own television, and window looking out onto a rooftop. I was special; I was the 27-year old cancer patient. And thus began the long wait.