There are some songs that are so heavy with meaning that every time you hear them, memories flood your mind. During the summer of 1996, there was one song that kept me afloat.

“What’s this?” I think. I’m lying on my bed in my apartment, left arm above my head, suddenly frozen in fear. I feel a plain difference in my left breast compared to my right.

There’s a ball-like formation that I can feel all the way around. It’s not attached to my chest, but is just floating there, in the middle of my breast. I push all suggestions that it’s a lump out of my mind.

Rain rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud.

Three weeks later I think I have a yeast infection. I’ve never had one before, so I’m not sure. I make an appointment at the clinic in town. The doctor examines me, and says no infection, but there’s something else here. You need a mammogram, today. He takes me to radiology. After the mammogram, the radiologist looks at the films and says, you need to see a surgeon, today. No one shows me the films. I wait in an exam room, shivering. This whole afternoon is turning into a nightmare. When I finally see the surgeon, he says, I’m taking that lump out tomorrow morning.

I’m 27, alone. I walked into the clinic with a yeast infection. I walk out with breast cancer.

Down pour on my soul
Splashing in the ocean I’m losing control
Dark sky all around
I can’t feel my feet touching the ground.

I’m angry, so angry, that I was hustled from room to room, never asked if I wanted to call someone, never given a chance to breathe, never given any choices. For the next couple of years, I swallow tears every time I drive past the clinic–it’s a small town and that street is hard to avoid.

My parents tell me; beg me; come home. They don’t wait for me; they come and get me instead.

But if I can’t swim after forty days
And my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I can not fall
Lift me up

My new surgeon shows me the films. He points out a star pattern. It could be scar tissue, perhaps. Have I ever been hit really hard in the chest? No, not that I remember. If this is scar tissue, you’d remember, he replies. He gives me some options.

The lumpectomy confirms every one’s suspicions.

Lift me up–when I am falling
Lift me up–I’m weak and I’m dying
Lift me up–I need you to hold me
Lift me up–keep me from drowning again.
Jars of Clay

Book Nook: My Favorite Time to Read

When Ed and I brought Lily home from the hospital, she screamed all night long. Literally. It was horrible. I thought she had colic, and that our life would be a living wreck. Around 4:00 a.m., we finally broke down and Ed gave Lily a bottle of formula. I was devastated; I was determined to breastfeed, but my milk was slow to come in after the cesarean, and Lily could only nurse from one breast.

The next day, we took Lily to see the pediatrician. We had gotten no sleep, and were desperate. The doctor didn’t seem to think Lily had colic, and she told me that I could use the time nursing to catch up on my reading. Brilliant!

We were terrified as evening came. We decided to have Ed give her a bottle right before bed. It worked, and Lily did not scream all night. I did get up with her about every two hours to nurse, but that one bottle of formula made all the difference; it filled Lily’s tummy enough for her to sleep, and I was able to get the rest I needed to produce enough milk for Lily the rest of the night. After two months, I was able to nurse Lily exclusively.

Nursing my babies was my time to read. I read dozens of novels while sitting in the glider, rocking and cradling my girls. Now, my time is almost up. Emmy will be 18 months old soon, and I have been trying to wean her. She is most likely our last baby, and I am very sad to give up breastfeeding. Due to my history of breast cancer, however, I need to get a mammogram. To get the best picture possible, the breast center I use will not give me a mammogram while I am nursing. I am so conflicted; I love nursing, and yet I know I need to take care of myself. Emmy is old enough now; she is a good eater and likes cow’s milk, so it is time. But there goes my time to read!

I finished Beautiful Lies and its sequel Sliver of Truth while nursing Emmy.

Beautiful Lies: A Novel Beautiful Lies: A Novel by Lisa Unger

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lisa Unger keeps the plot moving along, and it was an entertaining story. Some of it was pretty predictable, though. The main character had some philosophical “thoughts” which were okay some of the time, but other times drove me nuts! At the end, Ridley waxes on about “There are no villains here. Not really. If you think about it, there are no true villains in life.” So the people who were chasing you and trying to kill you and probably killed others are not villains? I can think of plenty of real villains. Just read the daily newspaper!

Besides that complaint, I would read her other books. She does have an interesting writing style.

Sliver of Truth: A Novel Sliver of Truth: A Novel by Lisa Unger

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ridley is back and more tenacious than ever. We learn more about her mysterious Uncle Max and her moody boyfriend Jake in this novel. Secrets are flying left and right, and lead to a thrilling conclusion. Ridley is philosophical once more, and more realistic. During a moment when Death teases Ridley, she thinks, “I suspect that grief is worse than death. When someone you love has died, it’s almost impossible to get your head around it.”(p. 211) How true. When she covers some unpleasant truths, she tells us, “Many people believe that evil is the presence of something. I think it’s the absence of something.” (p. 230)

I enjoyed Sliver of Truth more than Beautiful Lies, but I think if I hadn’t read Beautiful Lies first, my enjoyment of this book would have been less. Lisa Unger has hooked me, and her next book is now on my “to read” shelf!
View all my reviews.

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