Some things go together really well. Peanut butter and jelly. Bert and Ernie. Chips and dip. Thelma and Louise.

“I feel a mass in your neck” and “It’s huge” are not meant to be together. But those are the two phrases I heard from Dr. Usmani as he examined me.

“It could be cancer,” he said.


Dr. Niloufar Shoushtari, my regular primary care physician, was out of the office today. Dr. Saad Usmani had an opening, so I took it. I longed for the familiarity of someone I knew. Someone who knew me.

“I’m going to send you downstairs to the lab for blood work,” said Dr. Usmani.  “And we’ll schedule a sonogram.”  “Depending on what those show, we might need a biopsy.”

My eyes filled with tears and I bit my lip. Dr. Usmani finally seemed to grasp the effect his words were having on me. “I’m sorry,” he said.

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