In some ways, nothing had changed. It was the day following her 32nd birthday. And just like that, there was a before and an after. We took the first shots after the last session of radiation therapy.
She wanted me to help her do a "state of the situation". Map the geography of her female body. Her impalpable desire for unity, inside and out. I really didn't know what shape to give her situation...
The room transformed into a studio... And gradually... speech. And also fits of laughter. Several.
To produce images of her blurred feelings.
"Devices have turned a lot around me. Now I am the one turning in circles."
When she brought me her medical record, she held it like a precious object, like a child, even. The younger you are, the heavier your record is.
She shows me, explains it to me. Now a specialist despite herself, she can even detect certain anomalies. She shows me the sentinels.
Precise protocol and schedule. We make sure that everything is orderly. From the very beginning of treatment, it's a necessary strategy to weather the storm.
Initials that create abstract acronyms. In this way, the bad bug can be kept at a distance. In the evening, the face-to-face begins. Take the lead. Shave the head. A voluntary gesture as a blow to the disease.
It's a whole new vocabulary she's teaching me. I didn't retain much from the technical terms.
Acronyms try to keep emotions in check. They could be mistaken for stage names. The insider’s vocabulary, not to be disclosed. The association of molecules create acronyms that go on and on; to the FEC is added a 5-FU. Imagine what you will. Acronyms that turn you into an object of study such that only the body is present. You, you can take time off.
The mammography device uses X-rays. It produces high-resolution images. Breast tissue does not absorb rays homogeneously: these differences bring about strange images, geographical territories for the uninitiated, architecture of the breast and its internal structure for the specialists. I thought I was seeing a topography of Mount Etna. Exploring it from the inside. There are indeed some similarities.
The mammography is performed standing, shirtless. The breast is compressed between two plates. Do not move. Do not breathe. Breathe. The compression is relaxed. But not you. The device rotates 45 degrees. (Like all women, all this I knew already.)
She teaches me the color red. Fluorescent. It could be the name of a plant. Mixes with the red of your veins. You get used to this pocket, just like all others. Reach the target. Arm yourself with patience. Trying to forget the unwanted. A tingling in the chest, under the armpit, in the shoulder and the arm. They are merely passing by.
Going through scintigraphy, you start to shine. Your very own radiation. You get a scintillation camera. Lying on a bed, still, surrounded by the heads of the moving gamma camera. A manipulator, hidden behind glass, moves the camera to capture the shots. Is it your body producing these images?
When the moment to close the file finally arrives, relief doesn't come immediately. It needs its own time. It seeps through. Once the hardships are left behind, life recovers all its rights.