After Shaz was diagnosed in Aug with breast cancer, even though I am still young, I gave myself a breast exam. Since I gave birth to Stephen, I have not followed up with a regular OB. I have been followed by the Gynecological Oncology department, which has not given me a breast exam in the past 3 years. I guess I was preoccupied with recovering from that surgery.
The right side of my breast felt hard, and I could only describe it as a mass because it was quite large. It was not a lump, no marble like cyst; it was just a huge mass. I honestly thought it was a blocked milk gland from having Stephen. My milk never came in after I had him and I chalked it up to the traumatic birth.
Last month my breast started to get bigger, change colors and was starting to hurt so I made an appointment to see my ONGYN. When I went in, he would only describe the mass as a thickening of my tissue. I kept telling him I thought it was just a blocked gland but he insisted that I would have showed signs sooner and scheduled me for a on ultrasound on my breast. I had that done today.
The doctor started my exam and immediately started saying how abnormal the breast was. He mumbled the whole time saying things like. "Weird, isn't right, abnormal, not like the other breast'. He did the exam for about 3 minutes, looked at the nurse and said prep her for a mammogram. He told me that he did not like what he saw in the ultrasound and wanted to get a better look with a mammogram. I felt my eyes swell up with tears. I have never looked at this stupid ultrasound screen with good news. It's always been a frightening experience and this was the one chance it has to redeem itself, it disappoints me yet again.
I tried to be very, very light-hearted and joked with the technician that I always thought my breasts were too small for this. I never thought at 28 I would need this. I had it done and man, those are really very uncomfortable. I was sent to his office to wait. As he was walking toward the room he hollered for me to come out and follow him. He said that things were not looking good and I had 2 options but first he needed to do a more thorough ultrasound on both breast. When we went back in he walked me though everything that he saw. The tumor is on the entire right side of my right breast and took up almost the entire screen in complete blackness. He started down the breast in to the lymph nodes and found a large tumor in my lymph node closest to the breast tumor. He told me that he was concerned when he just seen the breast tumor but that seeing the tumor in my lymph node has him overly concerned. He told me that my options were to get an MRI which could give a false negative in which he would still request a biopsy even if it was negative, or I could just get the biopsy of both tumors now. He said that even if they are begin, that there would still be something causing the tumors and we would need further testing and he just kept repeating "this would need taken care of", which I assume he meant removed. He even asked me what I thought it was and when I told him just a blocked gland, he said that it definitely was not that. He actually told me that when he read my chart, seen my age, he said he honestly never thought for a second that this is what he would be seeing at all. I looked at him and replied "That makes two of us."
My biopsy will not be surgical, I am getting a vacuum core needle biopsy, so they will just take a big old needle, suck the tissues out and I should have the results within 72 hours. My biopsy is the 22nd- they only do Biopsies on Tuesdays and they already have this Tuesday booked. The lady that was scheduling me must have either had BC or known someone who did. She told me as I was leaving that the office had the best docs around. She didn't want to tell me it would be okay because frankly, she didn't. It's not like they just send every person with a lump in their breast for a biopsy and I can't even say lump because what is in my breast is a very large mass.
I am scared...I honestly, truly thought I was just over exaggerating this whole thing in my head to begin with. I thought that it was nothing. I absolutely never imagined that I could be facing the C word. Never.
I started to lose it when I left the office. I walked out to the car, trying to hold it together. Got in to the car and called Steve. I cried a bit, but not too much. I didn't want to overly upset him and he was trying hard not to do the same. Corin was next. She has seen my worst moments and knows the most intimate details about me losing Shannon that no one else even knows. I completely lost it with her. I was hysterical. I told her the story only being able to complete one word every other second. I felt bad for doing it to her, it always is her that sees me completely lose myself in my grief. But, it needed to be done. I needed to be able to run every worst case scenario though my head in that instance. She wished she was with me, but I was glad I was alone. I was glad I could break down on the phone and no one could see me. This is bad timing. Shannon's birthday is next week.
Next I made the drive to my Mother's. She was calmer than I thought she would be. She'd been there, though. She was in my shoes only a year younger than I with three small kids at home, too. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 27. Throughout the next hour I told the rest of my sisters and Danielle. Danielle literally dropped everything, including my buddy, and drove over to get us dinner and just be there. It meant more than she will ever know. After we got done eating and her and Steve were occupying their minds, I had an overwhelming sensation of knowing this feeling. I had been here before.
It was only 6 and a half years earlier that I was in that stupid ultrasound room, pregnant with my first baby, and told I had to go for more testing. We got the worst news when the doctor walked us through the blackness on the screen of what would eventually kill my child. They gave us a 50\50 chance of her survival. As we left, wanting to break down, we put on our disguise to face our family. We weren't alone for dinner that day either. By the time we got home, my eyes were swollen, and I was drained. I was so exhausted I felt like I gained 20lbs. That is exactly how I was feeling right now.
Later, I couldn't help but research and read how bad it is to have a tumor in your lymph nodes so close to a tumor in the breast. I read how estrogen, which I have been taking for the past 2 years to help recover from the hysterectomy, feeds C and even though I am young, if I had a hint of C in my body it would enhance the growth. I read about benign tumors, only one of which matched my tumor size, and how that it would need removed.
So, just like 6.5 years ago, I am faced with this 50/50 chance. I could have C and it's possible that I don't. Surgery however, seems inevitable. I, like 6.5 years ago, also run every possible scenario though my head. What if it's too late? Will my babies grow up without me? Will I face chemo and losing my hair? How will I take care of Stephen and myself? What will this do to my marriage? How will we afford this? These questions will run over and over in my head for the next 2 weeks. It is not possible to not think of them.
Baby steps, though. We'll see in two weeks what will happen. And we will face it head on.