He ordered everyone else out of his office, then led her to the table and helped her climb on top. She smiled, sat in front of him, and peeled her black t-shirt over her head without being asked. She couldn’t wait to show him! She reached around to unhook her lacy bra. It quickly followed her other clothes in a pile beside her.
He looked at her breast and gently caressed the scar, stroking it several times with his thumb …
Harlequin romance? … they are quite racy these days! Erotica?
Nope. That was my last appointment with Dr. X.
My Mom loved Harlequin romance novels. When she passed away three years ago we even tucked one in beside her. She was a romantic at heart … so I grew up believing in fairy tale love and Prince Charming. And who do you think taught me how to flirt at the age of three?
Mom – Libby – was a young twenty-something wartime bride. She met my Dad when he was stationed in Sydney, Nova Scotia before shipping overseas in the Navy in WWII. They fell in love and got engaged within three weeks. Married within three months. Back on shore leave and my oldest sibling – my brother – was made. My sister came soon after. They made their home in Montreal, Quebec, where my Dad was born. My parents were still in love 20 years later because then I came along on New Year’s Eve and ruined their party. They were in their mid-forties by the time I arrived. And I swear I walked in on them once when I was in my teens.
From the time I was born and as far back as I can remember, my mother always had a Harlequin romance in her hand. My father would tease her “Did he kiss her yet?” and he’d plant one quickly on her cheek before she could swat him away. Around the age of eleven (I think) I grabbed one of her books, in boredom, and read it.
I was hooked.
On love. And trashy novels.
Mom always loved the Doctor books by Betty Neels best. The tall, dark and handsome Doctor would fall in love with his patient or his nurse. They would have deep, meaningful sex then blast apart due to some stupid misunderstanding. But in the end LOVE always triumphed and they lived happily ever after. So I have always toyed with the fantasy that I would find my soulmate in the medical field. I am still a hopeless romantic.
Years ago I dated this gorgeous hunk named Andrew* for almost a year. He wanted to play Doctor … and chose a sexy nurse uniform for me. He is the epitome of the perfect male. Tall. Dark. And handsome. Super sexy handsome. And his voice? Deep, beautiful British accent. I could close my eyes – or be blindfolded – and listen to him for hours. We would laze on his couch, our legs intertwined, and read to each other all morning. The days and nights were a sultry oasis. Andrew and I lived and breathed Fifty Shades Darker (much better than the first movie). If we wrote that book, it would have been a whole series on Netflix (and chill) and Fifty Shades Better … and Badder! We clicked on every level. Except … he was twelve inches taller than my 5’4″ barefoot frame. And that made the shower scene difficult. I had no choice but to buy nurse white 5-inch platform stilettos. Andrew … what did we do with those shoes?!
Andrew had his own cancer scare – thankfully a false alarm – and I accompanied him to the oncology department for his appointments.
I still remember the first day. It was a sunny but cool early summer day. I wore a cream top and cream coloured skirt with strappy cream, tan & black sandals. My fingernails and toenails were painted pale blue. I had matching baby blue sweater thrown over my tanned shoulders. The skirt was just above my knees – but the first four inches were lace – so it gave the illusion but being quite a bit shorter. Walking properly – like a lady – in heels and a short skirt is a skill and an art. I love being a woman!
Andrew noticed the other men stealing glances. He laughed and pulled me into a corner to kiss me before his appointment. We were breathless. And late for his appointment. He hurried into the clinic while I sat down in the waiting room. I gracefully crossed my legs, tucked my high heeled feet to the side, and refreshed my lipstick. I noticed that many of the people in the room were patients. Possibly receiving their chemo infusions. This lovely old grey-haired gentleman struck up a conversation with me. He told me about his bout with cancer and how he really wanted to go back to South Africa before he was out of time. He told me stories of his homeland, coming to Canada, and the wonderful family he had “over here”. And then he asked if I was married.
Thirty minutes later, Andrew popped his head into the waiting room to beckon me to follow, but I was deeply engrossed in listening to this fascinating older man. Andrew stood in the entrance – impatiently – my alpha didn’t wait for anything.
He headed towards me and the older gentleman glanced up. “You want her back, don’t you?” he asked. Andrew – always smooth – smiled and shook his hand and replied “Yes. But it was so kind of you to keep her happy while waiting.”
We said our goodbyes and good lucks, and I left with Andrew, slightly chiding him for whisking me away from this elderly man.
“What if he is the love of my life?” I laughed. “He was just about to propose!”
And right then, I realized I could someday find love in the cancer clinic. It felt preordained. There is something different – like déjà vu – when my soul learns a future truth.
Dr. McHottie – the nuclear med guy who injected me with radioactive dye the day before my surgery – never left my room. He crooked his finger and beckoned me to come when it was finally my turn. I eagerly followed! I am not a patient patient. Dr. McHottie had already experienced a flash of my hot temper. I had arrived earlier in the day with Renee at 9:30am for my scheduled appointment, and he informed me that whomever had booked my appointment made a mistake. It was too far ahead of my surgery.
I didn’t get nasty. I took charge. I asked Brad* for three things; a parking chit, an afternoon appointment and his phone number.
Once in the examination room, I asked if I could plug in my iPhone. I told him I had a hot date that evening and needed texting ability, at the very least. “Are you serious?” He asked, incredulous. He knew I was booked for surgery at 6:30am the next day. We swapped dating stories and POF profiles. I told him about my “Fight like a girl” temporary tattoo (he looked for the remaining sharpie marks) and that I was single. Sherri – who was my handler that afternoon – offered him thrill-of-the-chase dating advice and quietly took photos while he swabbed my breast with alcohol before sticking in 4 acupuncture-like needles. Dr. McHottie noted when I was in pain and said, “You felt that one, didn’t you? Sorry.” He brushed and patted my arm. The photos – except for this one – are in the vault!
But my surgeon Dr. X … has stolen my heart and preserved my breast! Sigh. Dr. X is tall, dark and handsome – boy-next-door clean cut – with a healthy slice of masculinity and a charming bedside manner. Dr. X has shown me, my body and my mind great care and respect. He appreciates my wits and smarts, matches my flirtatiousness with his own (shhhh … let me live out my fantasy in my morphine mind!) and gives me honest feedback when I ask for it … which includes a good smack on the ass (figuratively) to bring me back to earth when needed. The ease of our communication is refreshing … and exciting!
During our first consult, I backed him up against the wall to question his competence and the capacity of the health care in Durham Region. With ease and confidence, he handled my queries and allowed me to let off a little bit of steam. I didn’t want to lose my breast or my hair, and I didn’t want scars. He quietly reminded me that I had cancer, and right now they were trying to save my life.
He could have dropped a kiss on me right then and there because I was speechless. Snow White needed to be revived.
Dr. X did, however, promise to save my breast. I begged again for no scars, but he said we could fix that later. All of my reconstruction will be no charge due to my cancer. He promised perfect and perky, stuffed with a little something from my abdomen so my tummy could get tucked as well! Yay!
On the day of my lumpectomy and sentinel node removal, I waltzed into the OR and declared that if I had to have a scar, it could be an “X” for Dr. X.
He laughed, held up a staple gun and asked, “How about staples?” I had reacted to the dissolving sutures after my tubal ligation, so we were exploring alternate ways to sew me up.
“Uh. No. No Frankenboob!” I replied.
The entire OR team laughed. My job was almost done. I needed one more request to ensure my place as Most Memorable Patient. I asked Dr. X if he had his cell phone and could he photograph my tumour.
“Absolutely. I want to see it.”
He gave me his word, smiled at me as he touched my arm, and I drifted to sleep.
I vaguely remember him waking me in the OR to tell me the surgery was a success, they got everything and showed me the photo of the tumour as requested. His phone is not encrypted so he couldn’t keep it or send it. But he took great care to hold it in front of me and explain what I was seeing.
He also exclaimed “Now I know why you bruise so easily! You have an amazing network of capillaries and veins.” I took that to mean that I had some bleeders during the surgery, but nothing to worry about. I was impressed that he remembered how bruised my breast was following the biopsy. A quarter-sized bruise is normal. My bruise was the size of a continent on the right side of my breast.
Later in recovery, he dropped by rub my leg and reiterate the news was good. He was confident that the nodes looked good and he got clean margins. He peeked at my breast to ensure my bleeding had stopped, and I asked if my scar was an “X”. He leaned over and whispered that he had left one inside … and said he would see me in 3-4 weeks.
My results arrived early and I was booked in for my post-op results with Dr. X. He flashes a beautiful smile that reached his eyes when turned to say hello to me and my entourage.
He had great news! He got all of it! My margins were clear and so were the nodes! I was only Stage I (1 out of 4)! (Note: I have since learned I am Stage 2A due to the size of the tumour). The bad news … I have Triple Negative Breast Cancer, which is highly aggressive, and considered Grade 3 (3 out of 3).
He went right down to the chest wall muscle and took out all he could to make sure those margins were clear. Considering that I had a baseball of tissue removed, my breast has healed beautifully! I guess there was more than enough to start with.
We cheered! We laughed! We talked about my amazing recovery and next steps. He took the time to answer all my questions and ask questions of his own. He wanted to see the photo of me – one-week post-op party night- in my long green St. Paddy’s day wig, and adored it. He lingered with my phone and the photo in his hands for minutes. He laughed and said everyone in the OR loved the Frankenboob comment. They thought I was highly entertaining and spirited!
He loves my intelligence and curiosity, and said no one has ever asked him to photograph their tumour. I grinned and thought to myself well that’s not the first body part I’ve had photographed…
Dr. X told me that after my surgery, my tumour was packed up and heading to the lab when he screamed “Wait! Bring it back! I promised her I’d photograph it.” So back it came … he took the photo and woke me up in the OR to show me. What did it look like? Imagine a reversed pomegranate … a red, angry tumour in white clumps of ducts and cells surrounded by red tissue and veins … and a splash of blue dye over the top.
I thanked him for honouring my request. It – for some strange reason – gave me closure. I came face to face with death. And I beat it. Bye, Felicia! He admires my strength and my attitude and told me to keep doing what I am doing. Yes, I did get doctors orders to party like a rockstar and keep my joie de vivre.
He asked me if I ever answered my phone because he tried to call me himself four times with the good news. Not recognizing the number and not feeling chatty, I let the calls slide to voicemail. Missed opportunity! But I do have his cell phone number now …
My examination really did play out like fantasy. While asking if the hardness in my breast around the incision was anything to worry about, he said, “No, that is just me…”
It took me a week to realize – wide-eyed! – the double entendre to that comment. Phew! Fanning myself and kicking myself at the same time. I need my wits and game on – and maybe a wig – the next time I see my sexy doctor, so I don’t miss the invitation. Sherri says I am little slow on reading men! Ha!
I am thankful for Dr. X and my entire health care team. I will have the opportunity to see him again … every three months for many years … This COULD get interesting, even if it just in my own head! This journey has made me pause and realize that we as Canadians are blessed to have the health care system we have. I don’t even know what my surgery cost. That discussion with Dr. X will be a topic for another day.
I couldn’t get through this journey without my A-Team. My friends and family have picked me up and carried me when I have been on my knees in pain, deep in denial and paralyzed with fear. Or I might have been drunk… But they were there to carry me!
You can bet your ass that if there ever is a Sex in the City remake … I am Samantha! I’m sure I will look smashing in a blonde wig. I already have a beautiful auburn wig on order. Long, luscious curls. And I found a cute little brunette number as well. I will be wearing the sexy wig – and stiletto heels – while I wait for my chemo infusion. You never know who you will meet in the cancer centre!
Samantha did have breast cancer in the show … Samantha has Breast Cancer
*Names changed to protect the guilty!