A gekko is a small lizard, usually about six inches long, that lives in tropical climates. It has little suction cup pads on its paws that let it climb anything vertically and even scamper across ceilings. We encountered these everywhere when we lived on Guam. Gekkos have the unique capability of escaping capture by shedding their tails and growing new ones. In fact I rescued my husband from a ferocious gekko one morning in the shower. He got in, closed the curtain and turned on the water, then felt something crawling up his leg. Without his glasses he couldn't see, so he yelled at me. I brought a container to trap the thing and threw it out the back door. A day in the life of superwoman.
Yesterday, lying on a table at the hospital mammography unit with a radiologist standing next to me, I thought about gekkos. With my left breast under scrutiny of an ultrasound, and then invaded by a needle to retrieve a tissue sample of the offending lump, it seemed ironic to give so much attention to something I'm going to lose anyway. Yes, it's still useful for pinpointing the diagnosis, but I mused that it would be nice if women could re-grow that specialized feminine tissue after cancer treatment, like a gekko re-grows a tail.
If you've never had a deep tissue biopsy, it's a curious experience. A technician with a transducer locates the cancer blob, and the radiologist inserts a hollow needle into it. This specialized needle has a tip that can open, harvest a tissue sample, then cut it off and close. To draw the sample out of the needle, the radiologist uses a small vacuum device that sucks up the sample into a lab jar for later analysis. It took probably 15 or 20 minutes. I didn't feel it very much, but later as the numbing effects wore off, I felt a twinge or two. Not bad.
Ultrasound, needle biopsy, mammogram. Check. Oncologist today, port implanted tomorrow for delivery of the drugs, PET scan Thursday, and chemo starts Tuesday. I even get to have a shower tonight, an activity I've had to suspend for a few weeks while the cellulitis on my legs is being treated with medicated wraps that can't get wet. News flash: spit baths are a highly unsatisfactory alternative.
In the midst of all this poking and prodding, there is a bright spot on Friday: a pedicure. Ahhhhh.