It’s a lot to take in. Things happen so quickly and there are doctors and blood work and scans and somehow I have to make sound decisions and trust my judgment. At night, things sink in and in the silence of the night I realize the gravity of the situation and the importance of each decision that is made.
Back in April, I went for my well woman exam and my doctor felt a lump. Since I have no risk factors and was still nursing, it was assumed to be a clogged milk duct. This made sense, as I had issues with clogged milk ducts frequently. A few weeks went by and my armpit started to hurt. I thought maybe I pulled a muscle doing yard work and moved on. A few more weeks went by and the pain was getting worse so I went back to the doctor. That same night I came down with a fever and chills so I was treated for mastitis. A mammogram was scheduled for the following week to confirm infection.
Assuming I had mastitis, I refused to let my husband come to the mammogram with me. It didn’t make sense to have him sit in a waiting room with me for a few hours. I had an ultrasound first, to determine whether or not I should have a mammogram. As I laid on the table, the technician began asking me questions about the lump “getting bigger” or if I had “redness or dimpling”. When she left the room and mentioned that the radiologist may want to talk to me, I grew concerned. They sent me in for the mammogram and as I waited to be called back I texted my husband that I was scared. Of course he was angry that I wouldn’t let him go with me but I kept thinking, this must be some weird breastfeeding issue!
After my mammogram, the radiologist called me in and sat me down. He told me that it isn’t mastitis and it isn’t a cyst. It is a solid mass and needs a biopsy. I asked about the specifics but he never said what he suspected, though I could read between the lines. By the time I reached my car, my doctor was calling me. He shared that the radiologist suspects that it is a form of cancer and that he would send my information immediately to a breast care specialist. He apologized for the news. I broke down. It just didn’t make sense. I was supposed to have mastitis!
The specialist called me at 7am and asked to see me at 945. Everyone in the office was sweet and the doctor was thorough in her exam and biopsy. She anticipated that when she attempted the biopsy, there would be obvious signs of infection immediately. When she began the biopsy and the infection signs weren’t there, I watched her demeanor change. “Are you concerned?” I asked. “I am very concerned. We need to be aggressive no matter what this is.” Ok. Let’s be aggressive. Hoping for the best, she prescribed antibiotics and said she would call immediately with the results.
The next 6 days I spent googling everything and anything that I could possibly google about breasts. Breasts and nursing. Breasts and mastitis. Breasts and anything that isn’t cancer. Breasts and cancer. I had decided many times over that I had the 1 in a million different benign conditions that existed. Because there was no way that I could have breast cancer. I am too young. I am nursing. I am healthy. I have no risk factors!
But at night, when the world was quiet and there was no hiding, I knew it was cancer. I began to accept that reality. In a way, I think it made things a little easier when the doctor confirmed my fear. Though, I don’t think that anyone can ever be prepared to hear those words.
I have since learned that I am ER/PR negative, I do NOT carry the breast cancer gene and I am HER2 – NEU positive. This is all good news, from what I understand. The HER2 – NEU is particularly good news because, although this type of protein is only present in about 15% of breast cancer, it means that I am able to receive an additional antibody during my treatment. This treatment is supposed to be pretty awesome in terms of its cancer killing abilities – YAY!
That’s the story of the longest few weeks of my life. The weeks that my life took an unplanned detour. The weeks that changed everything.
That’s all for now. G’night folks. Sweet dreams.