I won’t say that I was ready to hear the news, but it wasn’t shocking. I could see it on the faces and hear it in the meta-message of the technicians and radiologist long before the diagnosis was positive for a malignancy. I’ve known since Halloween that something wasn’t right. I was finally delivered the news last Wednesday (Dec. 3) that I have cancer in my left breast and in a lymph node under my left arm (that we know about so far).
Since then, I’ve been busy. I’ve been researching doctors and treatment centers. I’ve been going to appointments and consultations. I’ve been telling my friends and family. And I’ve been thinking, considering, weighing. So if you’ve called me and I haven’t called you back, please know that I want to. And I SO appreciate your offers of help and encouragement. That’s why I’ve set up this blog. I want each and every one of you to know what’s going on. And I can’t make enough time in the day to do that individually. I hope you will comment and ask me questions. I hope you’ll share your stories and insight.
What I know right now is that I have ductal carcinoma. The mass is big(ish) at 5cm. Yes, I’ve been getting mammograms since I was about 30. My mom had breast cancer. And yes, I do self breast exams. My mammogram was due in 2014 and I talked to my doctor about it at my annual physical on Oct. 16. I had no symptoms. I was just trying to do what I always do: be vigilant about my health and wellness. My primary care doctor felt a little something during my clinical breast exam. I hadn’t noticed it as anything different from the fibrous cysts I’ve felt in the past. But in the following weeks, I began to have pain. So like I always do, I went for a breast exam. Then onto ultrasound. Then onto biopsy. Which has led me here.
After the biopsy, I had an MRI with contrast and a chest X-ray. I’ve also had my blood drawn for genetic testing. Because I’m under 45, it’s recommended. Most people who get breast cancer are a little older. I still need a PET scan and am waiting for my full pathology report. I’ve met with one really great breast surgeon. I am scheduled to meet with two more doctors on Tuesday. After that, I hope to have chosen my team and know my treatment plan. There’s a lot to do when first diagnosed.
I’ve been reading, not surprisingly. I want to contribute to my recovery as much as possible. I’m not reading about statistics and outcomes. I am living in the present. So I’m reading about foods that I can eat every day that will aid in my healing. And I’m reading about dealing with stress and negative emotions. I’m also exploring adjunct therapies that are less traditional in typical Western medicine. I’m still practicing yoga, meditation and am interested in some other possibilities. I’m also going to see my good friend and psychotherapist, Sally, next week. She keeps me sane and has always assured me that she’s seen it all, so I won’t surprise her. (Challenge accepted!)
Michael has been going with me to my appointments and helped me tell the kids last week. We know that what lies ahead will be challenging. But I know where I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I have friends and family who are willing to help me through this to a complete recovery. I’m lucky that my cancer is in an organ that can be removed. And I’m lucky that it hurt. Without the pain, I might not have known for some time.
I’ll know a lot more after Tuesday. I’ll fill you in then. Until then, thank you for listening, encouraging and being there.