Monday, May 13, 2013

My Left Boob: Taking Matters into My Own Hands

I have been very absent. Have you missed me? A lot has been happening and I thought it was high time I updated my loyal followers.

The short story is, I have Breast Cancer. I found out for sure 11 days ago and when I utter this phrase, I still feel like I am talking about someone else. Unfortunately, it is me, not that I would wish this on someone else, but you get the idea.

I wasn't sure about "going public" with this news, but then I thought my experience might help some other woman out there, even if it's just one, she should know what I am about to say.

How it was discovered
I went for my yearly mammogram in December 2012. It's like my annual Christmas present to myself. At the time, I had just started noticing a dimple on the left side of my left breast and I almost thought I felt a lump too, but thought I was imagining things. You see, as a 45 year old who has nursed 2 kids, I no longer knew my boobies. They had become utter strangers to me. They felt different and I never really knew what was a "lump" or what was just a temporary something else. (I'm kind of shaking as I type this and I feel my blood pressure rising but I need to get through this, all of it.) Long story short, I told the technician who didn't seem concerned and just did her job; that is, squeeze the shit out of my 34A sized fried egg into a vice. I received a call the same day to come back and do a "retake" because the side I had questioned myself, was also not looking normal. They did not scare me, just "come back because the picture isn't good enough."  So, I mildly freaked out and went for the retake. This time, the pictures looked just fine and I was advised to come back in one year, that would be December  2013.

The New Year came and went  but the crease and lump did not. I would stare at myself and think, "Well, I'm getting older, things are getting saggier. Maybe that is why there is a crease." But why wouldn't the other boob follow suit? That one was not showing the same signs.

And then I'd be watching T.V. and find myself touching the lump, over and over again. "Is it really there?" I'd ask myself. I thought I was going nuts and I rubbed that lump so much, I thought I created it! Subconsciously, I could have been scared out of my mind and was paralyzed by it. I was also  having occasional pain in my breast and arm pits. And in the mean time, I spent time with my West Coast sister in-law who had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer less than 2 years ago. She calmly said, "If something doesn't feel or look right, just get it checked to give you peace of mind".

I finally had my annual physical in early April. I mentioned the crease/lump to my primary care physician (who doesn't normally do a breast exam on me) and immediately he said to contact my OB.

I made an appointment with her asap. Upon examination, she ordered an ultrasound. I went for the ultrasound and an exaggerated mammogram on a Tuesday. I then had to take the kids to the dentist. At 5pm I walked in the house and my phone was ringing. You guessed it. My doctor was on the line telling me there was a "suspicious mass near my chest wall". She ordered a biopsy and immediately gave me a list of breast surgeons.

I knew right then it was Cancer. I woke up during the night sobbing and all I could say to my husband was, "I'm terrified".

The next 3 weeks were filled (and still are) with nothing but fear, anxiety and sheer terror. Two areas had been biopsied and both tested positive for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I am scheduled for a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy this Friday and we will know more soon about the course of treatment. In the mean time, the kids still need to be fed and driven around and life goes on. I am putting my best foot forward but I'm not gonna lie, it's like being on an elevator to Hell sometimes!

I have so much more to say and hope to keep this topic going. There are several morals to this story:

1. Touch yourself as often as you want
2. Trust your gut. It will never, EVER betray you. I listened to mine and I am so thankful I did.
3. Take care of yourself! Yes, you, the one who is always taking care of everyone else or is afraid to go to the doctor. Get your yearly PAP, Mammogram, Colonoscopy, whatever it is you are supposed to do. Just friggin do it.

I am extremely blessed to have a wonderful husband, incredible parents, and a huge network of family, friends, and neighbors to help me through this. I am not sure where the road ahead is leading but I am grateful that I do not have to travel it alone. 


Amy Hammer said...

Thank you for sharing Becky. I honestly sa readi your story with my hand down my shirt the whole time! I'm actually looking forward to my first mammogram this Wednesday because of you!

Tim Jackson said...

A few things-
Your post needs more pics of boobs! I was disappointed..
My best friends girlfriend had a double mastectomy 18 months ago....she's about your age. Today she is happy and healthy and cancer free. I cannot imagine what you are going through....but do not lose hope (or your sense of humor!)
I pray for you every day.

Scott Nerney said...

Mrs Nero,
From a man's perspective I can't imagine the emotions you are dealing with until I guess when we get the expected male equivalent prostrate cancer message.

But I must say to all the 'health care pencil pushers' out there that feel women shouldn't get any testing until their 50's because the odds are acceptable we may lose some... I say losing any person to something that can be detected and treated is 1 too many.

Next summer we'll be reading posts about you being 1 year past detection and treatments. Count on it!

- Love
Mr Nerney!

Scott Nerney said...
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Alice said...

First reading of your blog~ You know my heart and soul are with you, for your well-being! You were such a great support AND STILL ARE to Shan and I. I have not told shan anything, but will when you have all your information. I am praying for you, but 34 A, I'm slightly bigger but I just know becky that they would be gone, along with the lymph nodes! I hope you are in the best of hands with the oncologists, your primary sounds awesome. It is wonderful to have the support you have, it's a rollercoaster ride and I love them, but at shannons worst days and the long period of time I wanted us both off the ride. Research, ask questions and listen to your gut, today, not 4 months and be sure to thank the RETAKE people who read your mammogram, God what would it be like in December. I'm glad you went forward. I'm on your side <3 ~Alice~


Dear Becky,

Wow. What can one say after reading your blog? Well, I guess, several things. Thank you for writing this blog. I can say with uttermost certainty that because of you, I am definitely taking better care of my self in every way. I pray that everyone who reads your blog will do the same. Should anyone G-d forbid, find theirself in a similar situation, they will take what you wrote to heart, and take one step at a time. G-d bless you, Rebecca. May you have a full and speedy recovery.



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Lori DiPippo said...


You are an inspiration. I have no doubt that your courage and humor will get you through. Please keep writing and sharing your story as I'm sure it will be a great source of therapy for you. We all (even those of us who do not know you well) will be sending you positive energy. I once had a very dear, brave friend who faced a serious health crisis. I live by her words daily. They were "I always thought that when you got sick your doctors cared for you. I've learned that you have to take control of your own health care." You are proof that these are still such important words. Stay strong and we all will be praying for your healthy recovery!

Debra Turner said...

I like to remind people that if you're going to get cancer, the 21st century is the time to get it. Because it can be detected and treated, and many people will fully recover. These days cancer can also be treated as a chronic illness like diabetes, so patients die fo old age. Hang in!

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Good luck Amy! I am glad this blog touched you and you touched yourself! Keep me posted!

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Thank you potato cheep! I will keep you abreast of everything and will try to get a few selfies on the blog for you!

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Thank you Scott, I agree with you! The fight has just begun. Thank you for your support!

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Thank you Alice! You inspire me! Xoxo

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Thank you Sharon! Xoxo

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Thank you Lori. I hope to keep the topic going!

Becky's Big Bytes said...

Excellent points Debbie. I love hearing survivor's stories. They lift me up! Thank you!

3am Writer said...

We are all with you, my friend!