I receieved a phone call yesterday that has already begun to alter the course of my month, if not my year. Up until two days ago, I never imagined such a conversation would take place. In fact, it is safe to say that I am still stunned by the turn of events.
Four weeks ago, I felt a lump in my breast. I wouldn't have thought much more about it, and would have assumed it was nothing more than a cyst, but for the pain. It wasn't much at first, and generally only when I touched the side and could actually feel the lump. I realized I should probably get it checked out, but was in the throes of reunion travel and excitement. I also thought it might (let me have my fantasy) resolve itself and I needn't worry myself.
I can't say that my first thought was not cancer, but I promptly researched "lump and breast pain" with Dr. Google and found (according to most sites) that pain was not always associated with cancerous lumps. I am sure if I was not a worrier, this would have been sufficient for me. However, I knew what I really needed to do and it was just a matter of finding an Ob/Gyn that was not completely booked for the next year.
I found one rather quickly, but then life got in the way and I kept forgetting to call for an appointment. Finally, after 3 weeks I realized I was delaying in the hopes that everything would magically clear up on its own. It hadn't and I knew it was time to face the music, no matter what was in store. I made the appointment, went in, the nurse practitioner reviewed my fabulous medical history and all went swimmingly.
She knew why I was there, but was not concerned. I was "young and healthy" according to her, had no known risk factors and certainly this was just a fluke. I was feeling quite positive until the exam. The minute she finished her demeanor changed ever so slightly. She suddenly seemed to have less pep and offered that she could not make a diagnosis, and recommended that I have a mammogram and ultrasound to rule things out.
Great! I would go, "rule things out" and that would be that. It would be a cyst, some type of infection, I would get antibiotics and head home. I filled out the online form that night, a scheduler called me the next day and set me up with a 12:45 p.m. appointment. I called Nicholas's Montessori and asked for extended care and figured I would easily have him home by 3 p.m. I wrongly assumed that only a long wait due to many appointments would keep me there.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that by 2 p.m., after having one ultrasound and two mammograms, I would be curled up on an exam table, freezing despite the warm room, shaking like a leaf and being prepped for a biopsy that, in the doctor's words, "couldn't wait." I had not even had a chance to call Peter, only the time to send him a quick note indicating that the tests were taking longer than originally thought. In fact, I had been so nonplussed about the appointment, that I hadn't even mentioned it until a quick phone call prior to leaving the house.
By 3 p.m., I was in the car, films in hand and bawling on the phone with Peter like no one's business. It wasn't even the testing, but the sudden urgency after the two mammograms and the ultrasound both revealed "suspicious calcifications." I had watched an 80 year old woman bounce out of the testing area and declare, "Oh, that was easy, it didn't hurt a bit" and had just assumed at my age, I would have the same experience.
Instead, I left with an ice pack tucked away in my bra, and headed to the nearest CVS to load up on extra-strength Tylenol to dull the pain from the biopsy. I was stunned by the turn of events, but Peter and the 3 other (extremely supportive) people I told were sure it was nothing and spent 48 hours sending me good vibes and hope.
I can't say I wasn't nervous, but tried not to focus on the negative. I kept reminding myself that no one mentioned severity or anything of the nature during the testing, they simply said it needed to be done. For all I knew, anyone with anything remotely suspicious went through the exact same process and ended up with a phone call that indicated all was well.
I gave the doctor's office 48 plus hours and finally threw in the towel. Between the never-ending bidding process (no, we still don't have a post) and this situation, I was started to unravel a bit. I just wanted the news, no matter what, so we could move forward if something was wrong. I called my doctor's office, but no one picked up, so I left a voicemail. I then gave the actual diagnostic center a call, but all of the doctors had left for the day.
Not five minutes later, my phone rang with an unknown number on the screen. I figured it was likely a wrong number, but picked up anyway. It was the OB/Gyn returning my call and letting me know that the test results were in. The doctor did not waste time and while she was very thoughtful, she did not mince words and the next thing I knew I had a diagnosis of breast cancer* (DCIS), a list of doctors to call and a plan of action to start.
Thus far, I am not sure what to think. I know that it has been caught very early, and that is extremely good news. I know many people have gone through much worse and I should be grateful it is what it is. I know that there are so many treatment options and that in all likelihood this will be but a blip on my medical history radar.
Yet...I'm still in shock. Not only did my body betray me, but at an inconvenient time at best (I know, I know, there is never a good time). I don't know what to think and at least for the next few days, there is not much I can do. I have done my share of Googling this type of non-invasive cancer and think, for the moment, I am going to take a break. On that note, though, if anyone has any experience with this type of breast cancer, please feel free to share on or off-line. I'm just going to give Google a rest for a couple of days.
Instead I'm going to think that perhaps leaving the choir was a better call than I ever imagined, and enjoy the fall weather. The kids don't know anything yet, so in certain respects, I can try and live in blissful ignorance. We will hit a pumpkin patch or two, enjoy the long weekend and try to hold onto our little piece of normal for just a few more days...
*This was the preliminary diagnosis over the phone. I expect to have a more detailed pathology report on Monday to review.