Almost Clear

by Elizabeth Potenza

The first two days of my daughter's life and my new days as a mother were complete and utter happiness. We had a good birth experience and my husband, my daughter and I were in our own planet of bliss.

It was a July heat wave. We were nesting in our air conditioned room, the rest of the world seemed very far away. We were learning about each other, loving it and basking in its newness. I will never forget it.

Then reality intruded. As I held my newborn at my breast, my mother was on the phone sharing that she had found a lump in one of hers. She was on a roller coaster of fear, panic and needed me bad. Trust yourself I think, take control of this, let's do some research. Don't let the doctors push you around. What is this terrible thing? It hurt that I could not take her pain away. I was so angry at this terrible disease intruding upon my joy. One woman in nine the statistics say.... Frantic days, treatment decisions to be made under big pressure, too quickly I thought, but I wasn't there. A mastectomy, prosthesis, Tamoxifen, mortality rates, side effects. No lymph node involvement, thank God(dess).... a whole new vocabulary.

Mom has been cancer free for four years now. She feels amputated, afraid of the side effects of the medication, afraid to trust in her own self exam. Never feeling relief until the almighty doctor examines and gives the official word.

Almost clear. I realize that with each passing of my daughter's birthday, we are almost clear. We are another year away from the breast cancer, I had read somewhere that if you remain cancer free after five years - you are probably going to be alright. Time passes, you relax about it, but it is still there looming. A cyber feminist mother I had heard of recently died of breast cancer. I admired her work and mourn her loss. I can think of so many other women in my life; wives, sisters and mothers living and dying of breast cancer.

Time passes, you relax about it, but it is still there looming.

Elizabeth Potenza is mother to Rosalie, wife to John, ~ enjoys ~ the internet, music, gardening, books, and photography.

Liz's work has previously appeared in the spring nineteen ninety seven issue

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© Copyright 1997 - Elizabeth Potenza. All rights reserved.