“Hi, I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.”
A slow growing, less than 2 cm infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It’s grade 1, so basically as good as it can get for bad news. At this point it looks like the next steps are a lumpectomy and 6 weeks of radiation. So, we’re really almost done with the whole thing. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)
This happened really quickly. I was at work about a month and a half ago and suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left upper breast/chest area. I held a hand over it, which is really not a good look for the office, and just muddled through until it stopped hurting. Then it was totally out of site out of mind. Probably 2 weeks later I was reading in bed and felt another sharp pain in the same location. Inspecting it more closely, I found…a lump.
The next day I called my doctor, who got me in for a mammogram the NEXT day. A few days later I was back in, getting a biopsy. (Ouch.) Two days later my doctor’s office called and asked me to come in for the results. Full on panic started then. Never a good sign. It was around this time that shock set in. And a little parking lot car crying may have taken place.
Luckily, I have a great doctor. Surgeons were recommended. Appointments made. It became basically waiting from day to day to find out what was happening next. What was the news? Results? It was so surreal. I could not stop thinking about my friend Leah being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and dying two years later. Although my initial results looked good, I couldn’t help but think at three in the morning, “What if this is a secondary location? What if I’m riddled with cancer? Is that why my hip hurts? Does that explain my migraines lately? As fast as my doctors were moving, and it was FAST, there was still waiting time, and it felt endless. I started writing the night before the last round of tests. It was 1:30 AM and I’d been trying to sleep for hours. I had an MRI, bone scan and CT scan awaiting me the next day. This was my stream of thought:
– Tonight I am a little nervous about the MRI and scans tomorrow, but I know in my head that chances are really small that anything will have spread. I SHOULD be worried about my sudden break up with estrogen therapy. My little tumor (to be named later) is estrogen receptive. That means estrogen is no friend of mine, and has to go. Which is funny (not), because without it I am a mess. Within hours of removing the patch, I was unaccountably annoyed. With everything. Maybe now is the time I should learn to laugh at the small stuff. Small stuff I suck at. Big stuff? I’m a freakin’ rock. Mostly.
It’s 2 AM now. The hot flashes and monkeys in my head are still at it. I’m waiting. Waiting for the test, biopsy, results, appointment, phone call. Good news. Bad news. Whatever. After the tests tomorrow, I could hear from Dr. G in the afternoon. Or, it might be Friday. It definitely won’t be later than that. And this will tell me if there are any other places they see anything suspicious. So I feel like once I know that, we can move forward. In the meantime, I guess I’ll go with this nervous breakdown/insomnia thing.
So, as I said earlier, the tests were good. Compared to what many women go through, this is a cake walk. I’m almost embarrassed to even call it cancer. I feel there’s an in between something it could be called. But then again, I have the option of lumpectomy or full mastectomy, so that’s just scary. That’s for real, right? Not pleasant to consider. Life changing. I just keep going back and forth between feeling really lucky and feeling terrible. I haven’t settled on an emotion yet. And maybe I just won’t.
That ought to be fun for everyone around me. Woohoo! Which way is the wind blowing today?
Side note: when you’re diagnosed with cancer, they give you a 3-ring binder. With tabs. It’s like they realize your mind was just blown and someone has to organize you or you’ll fall apart. Which is probably very true. For the past 2 weeks, all my test results and doctor stuff was in my purse. Wadded up. Now it’s hole punched. Cancer will motivate you to get your s#!& together.
Well, some of it. Don’t expect miracles, people. I’m still a hot mess. And I can promise you, no matter what, that will not change.
Okay, so that’s that. More to come.