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Damage Assessment

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Just one look. Just a look to access the damage. Then she would move on. No gawking. No tears.
Just one look and move on to more important things. One look and be done with it.

Those were the instructions Murphy Brown gave herself as she walked into the bathroom. Whether she would follow them or not, even she didn't know. She'd always been unpredictable, but at least Murphy herself always knew where she was going. Now, however, it seemed like she didn't know anything at all. One single word, six little letters, had sent her world upside down.


She'd interviewed presidents, criminals and celebrities. She'd went face to face with network executives and even a vice president who decried one of the best choices she felt she had ever made in her life. She had sat down across the table from Yassir Arafat, and Fidel Castro. And it would be a little army of rouge cells that would bring her the greatest challenge she'd face in her life.

Of course, she was still Murphy Brown and Murphy Brown faced a challenge by fighting like hell. The doctors had given her a good prognosis. For perhaps the first time in her life she was listening to instructions and following them to the letter. They had done the lumpectomy several days ago and soon she would begin chemotherapy. It wouldn't be easy, but she would kick cancer's ass like it was another lazy secretary.

And that was what brought her to this moment, standing in front of the bathroom mirror. This would be her first look at the scar from the surgery. Though grateful they had been able to save her breasts, she wanted to see just how much they had taken out. The doctor said there would be a little depression, but after she was done with chemo she could have another procedure to restore it to what he had called "almost completely normal." With a small scar, of course.

But that didn't mean she believed the doctor or could quell her own curiosity. She had much more important things to worry about. And yet, she had to look. It didn't matter how bad it was, she'd never had much going on in the chest department anyway, but she needed to know.

Taking a deep breath, Murphy slowly unbuttoned her shirt. Her chest still ached, but it wasn't as bad as it had been when she woke up from surgery and felt like she had been run over by a mac truck. She wasn't so sure she would have a cosmetic procedure done after going through that once already. But one look would make that call, wouldn't it?

She slid the shirt off her arms and onto the floor. One breast looked normal, and the other was partially covered with a white gauze bandage. Murphy peeled one corner of the adhesive away from her skin with a fingernail. A stab of fear hit her, almost like the first time she'd changed Avery's diapers and wasn't sure if she could handle what she was about to see.

Stop hesitating, she scolded herself. The wound would need to be cleaned and redressed, so she would have to just deal with it. But it still took several more moments before she pulled the bandage off. One quick movement, to make it hurt less.

Her blue eyes drifted to the wound and she felt relief slowly course through her body. It wasn't beautiful to look at, but it wasn't so disgusting that she recoiled at the sight. The incision was still obvious and she could count the stitches holding it closed. The skin around it was still red and sore looking, but it wasn't the gaping, oozing maw she had expected.

There was a depression, like a little scoop had been taken out of her breast. It wasn't more then the size of a quarter, not a gross deformity. She could live with it. And she imagined that whoever might see it in the future would probably be able to live with it too. If someone like that came along, right now the future seemed hazy.

But there was still a heavy saddness pressing down on her. Despite her best intentions, tears filled her eyes and she found herself breaking one of the rules she'd set for this little adventure. Maybe she could handle the look of the wound, but the reality of it was making her feel weak in the knees. It was right there before her eyes, something she was able to touch. Something that kept her from being able to deny it any longer.

She had cancer.