"The news is not good."
Those words put the cap on what was a whirlwind few weeks. It began with finding the lump, which led to denying the lump existed, and then finally accepting the lump and visiting my primary care doctor. "I don't like it." she said to me. In a few hours I was sitting at the Women's Breast Health Center, undergoing Mammography and Ultrasound and ultimately being ushered into a darkened room with the images of my breasts on the wall. There, in the image of my left breast was a noticeable white spot. In my mind it looked as if it was lit up like a neon sign. I tried to focus on the words the Radiologist was saying. I heard words like "small", "early", and "hopefully it hasn't spread". I was ushered from that room to the nurse's office where I was asked about my medical history and my family's medical history and an appointment was made for a biopsy two days later. I received a copy of the Radiologist’s report and I saw the words "highly suspicious of malignancy". The words scared me, but oddly didn’t surprise me.
The biopsy procedure went better than I expected. Thankfully the nurses and doctor were professional and compassionate. More importantly they indulged the best coping mechanism I have – my humor. “You’re not even going to buy me a drink first?” I asked the doctor before he began the procedure. The nurses chuckled when I asked who was going to keep my husband “abreast” of the situation. I appreciated them keeping it lighthearted with me – but they really had no choice, it was the only way to keep my blood pressure down so they could do the procedure!
The biopsy was last Friday. I spent a long weekend crying, denying, crying some more. I just wanted to know what I was up against and move forward. I tried to distract myself as best I could, mostly I was unsuccessful. Thankfully, I was not sore from the biopsy.
Tuesday at 2:30 they called me. Results were in - did I want to come at 4:00? Of course I did. I grabbed one of my dearest friends for support. The drive to the Breast Center was one of the longest drives of my life. My heart was racing, my stomach was churning. I just wanted to get this part over with.
I was escorted into the same darkened room. The doctor introduced herself to me. “We have your results, and the news is not good”. I remember crying - not so much because the news wasn’t good, I already knew deep down that they weren’t going to be. I think I cried because in that sentence I knew my life was changing. I tried to listen and take in everything she was telling me. I focused on the words “early” and “treatable”. She repeated those words several times. I could feel myself calming as I let the words soak in. “Early” and “treatable”. I took a deep breath and asked what’s next. The doctor gave me a hug, wished me luck and I was whisked off to another office where I met who is about to become my new best friend, the Nurse Navigator for the cancer center where I would be treated. She gave me a quick education on breast cancer. I had the most common form - Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. We talked about receptors and cancer feeders and a myriad of other topics. It was very educational, but surreal that we were talking about me and my breast. She reiterated the words I heard from the doctor “early” and “treatable”. She helped assuage the guilt I felt from missing my mammogram last year and told me there was no guarantee it would have even been visible a year ago. We talked about stages, grades, treatments options, etc. She gave me lots of reading material, but most importantly, she gave me hope. Early and treatable has become my mantra. I left the breast center after 90 minutes and I was amazed at what I was feeling – relief. I knew what I was up against and I had a good idea of what it was going to take to beat it.
The next step of my journey begins on Tuesday when I meet with “my” team. I know surgery is my first step. I’m going to take it day by day and meet each obstacle head on. On October 11, 2016, I may have become a statistic, but I refuse to be a victim, I refuse to feel sorry for myself.
"Early" and "treatable". "Early" and 'treatable".
I look forward to next year when I can call myself a “survivor”. I will get there, there is no doubt!