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.