Four Connecticut women twist two cars through the winding back roads of New Milford to their first stop: Dunkin’ Donuts. Two of them get coffee; the third is fasting, the fourth one gets an O.J. with a croissant.
Donning matching “Pink Rack Project” tank tops they stick to the back roads all the way to Waterbury, arriving at the hospital focused and ready.
Three of them look like they could be triplets. The fourth stands out as an oddball but none of the nurses seem to mind. For today they are all sisters. Maybe the blonde one had a different dad.
The bald woman’s strength is unwavering. One might guess she was there for a teeth cleaning, not a double mastectomy. She is quickly whisked off to registration. The others get the run-down: She will be assigned a number that they will watch on a monitor. Whenever she is moved to her next phase the board will update: pre-op, surgery, post-anesthesia, recovery.
There is never a question of doubt, never a moment of fear. There are no tears, no hesitations, no rubbing of the hands. Solidarity and strength are the rules of the day because all four know there is no other option.
And before anyone knows it the woman of steel is wheeled off to the OR.
Two of the remaining three brought books as if they were going to read them. The third attends to business calls. One has snacks to last for days; they all glue themselves to technological distractions and occasionally pace. There are smoke breaks, stretch sessions and constant checks to the progress monitor.
Three and a half hours later the first surgeon comes out for an update. Oncology has removed all of the breast tissue and ten lymph nodes. No major complications save for a very rare aberrant vessel that was left in its place. She is done with her part and plastics is taking over. It will be at least another hour and fifteen.
Relief is palpable when the plastic surgeon finally emerges to tell them that all went well and their sister is resting.
Four Connecticut women make it through the day. After visits into the post-anesthesia haze one heads home to care for the children. One stays in recovery. One will spend the night by her side and the other will takeover tomorrow.