Pink Is the New Black

Pink Is the New Black
A Lump in the Road column I’m up for parole. Every six months, I have to check in with the authorities, and they tell me if I’m good for another six or if they’re going to have book me back into the system. A few weeks before my appointment, I notice that my anxiety rises. The stakes are high. I know what it feels like on the other side, and I don’t want to go back. In fact, I’m not sure I’d survive it. As soon as I check in, a whole team of people look me over. They ask me personal questions, even strip-search me — from the waist up — and then, after they review results and confer, a representative comes out and tells me if I get another reprieve or not. It’s my bi-annual mammogram and checkup, the standard of care for triple-negative breast cancer after the year of active treatment ends. Living under the cloud of cancer feels surreal. Now that my hair has grown back, my muscle tone is strengthening, and I’ve regained the weight I lost during chemo, I look and feel healthy. But triple negative breast cancer is nasty, and it wants to come back. When I was diagnosed, my doctors told me I had a 40 percent chance of its returning, and if it does come back, it’s probably going to be fatal. On the upside, if it doesn’t reactivate within five years, it likely never will. So I’m either going to have a normal lifespan like everyone else, punctuated for the next few years with mind-boggling checkups, or I’m going to die soon with little notice. I am an optimist, a
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