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First I cry

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years ago

First, I cry.

(This article has been corrected by Vance)


It is five to eight at night. I have just left Yin Hospital on the way to the parking lot to get my car to go home. There are a lot of stores scattered around an old Temple. This area is famous for shopping, eating and cinema. The street is jammed with people. I move slowly, but I don’t hear the noise of the crowd, only the doctor‘s voice repeating “If the benign and the malignant are the ends of a balance, in my experience, the result we got from the ultrasound of your breast exam would be close to the malignant.” I find myself stopping at a department-store. I can see my tears bursting out from my reflection in the window. People sitting in the coffee tables outside of department store are laughing, joking, keeping company with the delightful music. The moonlight is soft and the stars are shining. But my heart is broken --.this is the most ironic moment in my life.


Last Friday night, I was doing lymph massage on my bed. I found a strange lump on my right breast. The first word that crossed my mine was breast cancer. The second thought was no….It could not be. Only 10 percent of lumps are malignant cells, I learned that from those fashion magazines. I kept telling myself that and re-read my health report again “it indicates there are no cells of cancer in my body” I told myself. But, the truth is I was panicking. I could not get sleep until dawn.


Next morning, I went to market to get some groceries. I passed by a gynecological hospital. It took me about 10 minutes to make up my mind to have a clinical breast exam. After the exam, Doctor Wang told me that it looked like a fibroadenomas. “But it is only a touching exam. If you need an accurate diagnosis, there is another Doctor Yun who is famous for breast cancer in Yin Hospital downtown. You can have an appointment with him on next Tuesday.” he suggested.


How about I just pretend the lump is only a fibroadenomas. That would be much easier than to deal with it. But if it is cancer, I would die a few years later… I have to live longer than my parents. I have to be cured.

I kept it a secret. On Monday I went to the office and did all the routine jobs. Then I went to see Doctor Yun on Tuesday night.


After the Ultrasound exam, he showed me the ultrasound pictures and explained them.

This is what he said: “The shape of the lump is irregular, you can see this… there is a circle and inside the circle there are several small balls. The velamen doesn’t look strong enough to protect the lump.” ” He dropped the line to look at me, then he said carefully “If the benign and the malignant are the ends of the balance, In my experience, the result we got from the ultrasound of your breast exam would be close to the malignant.” “So,” I asked. “So, you might need a more accurate exam. I mean an open surgical biopsy.” “Could I choose the needle biopsy?” I was afraid that the doctor would cut off my breast. “No. Your lump is complicated. Some of cells will be fibroadenomas, some might be malignant. Under this circumstance, the needle biopsy might only pick up the fibroadenomas. The diagnosis would be wrong.” “The tumor is close to the rib, we could have an excisional biopsy to get the whole tumor out. I will do it completely because I have to make arrangements for the next step--lymph cleaning and mastectomy” Mastectomy! God… Did I have another option? I asked myself. It was the only way to find out if it is cancer or not. Compared to living in the world longer, being beautiful is less important. The doctor and I both agreed to do the excisional biopsy as soon as possible. The perfect day for the operation was next Thursday. Because I didn’t have any loan cases or meetings scheduled next Thursday, no one would notice that I had taken one day off.


I don’t remember how I walked out of Yin Hospital. Doctor Yun’s statement occupied my mind. If it is… or isn’t…, those are the doctor’s assumptions. But he sounded so positive… I could feel he implied my lump could be malignant, even though he avoided using the word “cancer”. I stared at my reflection in the glass of the shop windows. I was wandering on the street with watering eyes. I should go home now, but I can not go home with swollen eyes. I wouldn’t know how to explain it when my mom questioned me about it. Both of my parents are not well, my father has been suffering from asthma for years, my mother’s blood sugar level is too high, and she also has insomnia. I didn’t want them to worry about my uncertain disease and make them miserable. I still had a chance to prove my lump was only a fibroadenomas. But if I assumed the doctor was right, the result of the biopsy was malignant cell. I would be cured by a series of treatments like mastectomy, lymph node removal or radiation etc. An image of a book popped out of my mind. That was the first book I bought in New York. The title was “First, you cry.” Written by the NBC ex-news-journalist Betty Rollin describing how she survived breast cancer in 1975. She is still living in New York with her husband. I felt that she was smiling at me and telling me I can get over this. I am not alone. As you know, breast cancer is a lethal disease. But every year, thousands women have survived breast cancer since 1974. All I would have to do is cooperate with the doctor and have an “I will be cured” faith to deal with it.


I went to the bathroom at the Sogo department store to clean my face and keep reminding myself how many women were suffering from breast cancer in the world and how most of them have been cured. I stopped crying but I still had to stop my car to clean my face while driving home.



No one found out my secret. As usual I went to work, and everything was on schedule. When I looked around the office, I could not help thinking what was going wrong in my life. In both sides of my parents’ family, none of our relatives had ever had breast Cancer, so it could not be genetic. My diet has been healthy recently, less fat and full of dietary fibre. That is why I had lost 8 kilograms weight in the last 6 months. The doctor told me the tumor had been growing in my body for years because the size of the lump was big enough to be touched. One reason I found it myself was that I am thin enough to find the lump instead of touching fat.


I am a 42 year old unmarried woman living with my parents. (I used to say “I am single”, until my Canadian home-stay-mom yelled at me –”You said that you do not have a family, that you are single...your parents are your family!!!” ) According to Western Culture, I would be a loser. But this is common in Taiwan. I do not regret what I am, but I like children. It is a pity that I can not be a mom to raise a child. Except that, I have a well-paid job, loving parents and many good friends. Even if I have made a few stupid investment decisions, most of my life is still full of joy.


The last possibility is my bad temper. I am a short tempered and a perfectionist and that causes a lot of conflict when I communicate with people. One part of me wants me to be obedient, another side is full of insubordinate behavior and cynical opinions. It seems like two people live in one body, they have been fighting inside my soul all my life. That’s why my spirit cannot get rest at night. My cells cannot bear that and that caused the tumor to happen… that’s my guess.



The devastating Thursday finally came. I took one day off, no one in the office questioned it. When I left home in the morning I told my parents I had an annual health exam at Yin Hospital today. I would be home at noon. Now I am lying on the operating table surrounded by Doctor Yun, an anesthetist, and nurses. Doctor Yun is asking me to relax. ”Just enjoy the music and don’t look down the operation.” To be honest, I am nervous and scared. But what can I do now, like I asked myself before? Except accept, I don’t know what else I can do. I know only one way to get over this frightening moment. I keep reminding myself of the most pleasure I have ever had in the life I had before. This was my first overseas trip when I went to Vancouver in September of 1976. (I was in Vancouver for one month and lived with Eliah’s family. From then on I have called Eliah my home-stay-mom for the rest of my life. Eliah has become one of my best friends in the world, even though we have not communicated all the time. Both of us know that we always think and treat each other like our own family. Because I live with my parents, I can not offer her a family home-stay. That’s one thing I feel sorry.)


I visited Scandinavia in 1977. I thought about those marvelous views –silver moon reflected on the dark blue lake and green mountains and the small village we stayed in near Nordkap, Norway. I thought about the most incredible life I had in New York in 2002. To other people, it seemed I had a very dull life there. I even did not take trips every weekend. I went to the office every day and I took 4 pronunciation courses at different colleges and also 3 Latin dancing classes. When people ask me what is the most benefit I got in New York or if have I been influenced by New York, it is hard for me to answer it. It is not all about my ex-boy-friend, how he broke my heart. To tell you the truth, I don’t even remember what kind of feeling I had when I left New York in January of 2003, All of the things became a vague imagery. Like a dream I had last night, it was so true but far away from me.


When I closed my eyes lying on the operation table, all of these images flashed crossed by, a lot of them were from New York City. Movies, news, articles, fashion…anything related to NewYork City, always gets my attention. When I watched “CIS, in New York”, I knew exactly what the place looks like in the real world. I could feel the anxiety and the atmosphere when the MIT union threatened to go on strike. In know how relaxing it is when people lay down on the grass in Central Park. I can see how beautiful the cherry blossoms are on the corner in Forest Hill, how green the trees are in Summer time, how deep the snow is around Christmas.

That is New York, the most remarkable metropolis in the world, I was there standing by the Statue of Liberty once.


I am agitated now that Doctor Yun is trying to have a conversation with me. He picks up the wrong topic, he asks about my family (he has no idea I am an unmarried woman living with my parents), “So, you are keeping this excisional

biopsy and tumor a secret.” Yes, I am. Except the doctor, anesthetist and nurses, no one in the world knew the truth. My body was twitching, and the doctor had to stop until I calmed down. “It is not a big deal, just to deal with it” He tried to comfort me.

Then, The image I took in New York came back…. I took a deep breath… cold weather rushed into my lungs like it had each winter morning in Forest Hill.

The operation took two hours to finish it. I saw a red ball removed from my body. It was about 2.5 centimeters big. At the very beginning, the doctor had cut a piece of tumor to do the frozen section, but the result wouldn’t come out until later. At around 11 oclock in the morning, Doctor told me the initial report showed the tumor was Firoadenomas (benign cells). But he wanted to be accurate, so he could not reach his final conclusion until he had read the final report.



During the long wait for the result, I still did all the routine jobs and squeezed in time to read a few books to help me correct my life habits.


Every night, on my way home I assumed the tumor was malignant. I told myself, “I want to be the most beautiful patient in the Hospital, I will tell my mom that I have a training course in Taipei when I do the treatment. ….. The only thing I can do is “To accept it and deal with it”.


I stopped drinking coffee and tried to go to bed early…and I promised myself I would exercise regularly when the cut had healed.


I wrote a message to one of my best friends Chiaki who was leaving New York for Japan. After living in New York for 6 years I knew she was scared to go back Japanese Society. I wrote down:

I know there are a lot of restrictions for women in Japanese Society. All rules are made by people, and you are the one who choose the way to follow the rules. I do not mean that you have to fight them. When you accept it and deal with it, it will not be so difficult as you think. Don’t forget, people are changeable. Society is evolutionary. When you are free in your mind, there are no boundaries. One thing I have learned, no one really cares/remembers gossip except yourself. The actor of 24,Kiefer Sutherland, said “It was never as big a deal as you make it in your head and I learned that. That was a really valuable lesson. The rest, you take it in stride.”

It is not only for her but also for myself, it is never as big a deal as I make it in my head.

I finally called Doctor Yun. He told me on the phone that the final report had not been done, but he called the guy who worked at the lab. The answer he got was my tumor is definitely a Firoadenomas (Benign cells).

Thank God!!



I found the lump on 2006/02/17

I went to see the first doctor, Doctor Wang, on 2006/02/18.

I had an appointment with Doctor Yun on 2006/02/21.

I had an excisional Biopsy surgery on 2006/02/23.

Doctor Yun came to the conclusion that the tumor was a Firoadenomas (Benign cells) on 2006/03/03.


Michael writes:

Thank God indeed Ying! I was so happy to read the good news at the end of this wonderful piece of writing. I was really engaged in the way you were feeling as you described the stages of this episode. Thank you for sharing this most personal of stories. And..... it seems I will be going to China in November so I hope to be able to swing by Taiwan to finally meet you f2f! Anyway, now you can return to a life that is mostly one of joy!

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