So I’ve known for a week now, but I suppose this really starts back in February when I first noticed a lump.
Definitely weird, definitely new. I had just a few days before made a new patient appointment with a primary care doctor (finding a pcp who takes my insurance and new patients wasn’t easy), the first available, which was at the end of April. I didn’t know if I could call and say “well I’m not your patient yet, but…” so I just decided to wait until the scheduled appointment. Perhaps I should have gone straight to Planned Parenthood and said “hook me up with a mammogram!” but I didn’t and I hope that wasn’t a mistake.
The lump is biggish, on the right side, toward the top. It didn’t set off too many alarms bells, mostly because I have had bumps and lumps that come and go, mostly on the monthly basis. This one didn’t seem too interested in going, but, as suddenly as it appeared, it didn’t seem to be getting any bigger.
I told Stuart and no one else.
So Friday 27 April rolled around and yay! appointment! Loved the new doctor. She was patient, thorough, friendly, professional. The kind of doctor you trust. And she didn’t give me any grief that I recently turned 48 and hadn’t had a mammogram yet even though I have a sister who had had a double mastectomy and we’ll just get you scheduled for that and oh by the way…I think I felt a lump. So she checks and oh, yes that’s a lump and I think we will get you in for a mammogram today. Hit the panic button.
Go straight to the Norton Breast Care Clinic. Mammogram, ultrasound. 3cm lump, biopsy ordered. The following Wednesday.
I told a few people, mostly people I knew who had already had a biopsy, just to find out how bad the procedure is etc. No big deal, over before you know it, the wait for the results is the worst part.
And they were right! The biopsy wasn’t something I’d like to do again, but honestly I’ve had worse experiences in the dentist’s chair (and I have a great, gentle dentist). That was Wednesday of last week. I was told that the results could take as little as two days, so I was hoping that I’d get a phone call on Friday telling me that the lump was benign and I was all clear to enjoy Kentucky Derby Weekend.
The call did come on Friday. I was 100% expecting to be told it was benign. Instead I was told I have cancer.
Stuart and I were actually sitting in a movie theater, about five minutes from Infinity War starting. Y’all we had been waiting soooo long to see this. I was scrolling twitter, trying not to focus on the dumb fucking ads they force on movie goers, when the phone vibrated. I answered of course, because this was the call that would tell me that my life would resume as usual.
My doctor was the one to make the call and she was super awesome–really really kind. Because I was totally in shock, I told her I’d be in after the movie to discuss the test results. Two seconds after I got off the phone, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit there, so I asked Stuart for his keys so I could walk home and get in the house. I guess he was in shock too because he started to take his keys out of his pocket. Two seconds later he said he couldn’t sit there either, so we left together.
The walk home was surreal. It was Kentucky Oaks, kind of a pre-Derby for those unfamiliar, so everywhere, everyone was celebrating. Stuart was saying the right things “we’ll get through this” and I was still floored. You see, I never ever ever thought this would be me. I’ve never had any medical issues. Every test, negative. Every measurement, normal. No menstrual problems, easy childbirth. Rarely get sick and get better quickly when I do. No allergies, at least not like everyone else who lives in the pollen-drenched-hellhole Ohio River Valley. I’m active, healthy diet . Sure, I could stand to get more sleep and drink less booze, but cancer? Never!
Once home, I looked at my electronic medical chart. The biopsy result was ductal carcinoma in situ, exactly what my sister had five or six years ago. Apparently this is the least worse scenario. Nothing has spread outside the duct. Noninvasive is a good word. Lots of other words I didn’t understand, but I latched on to noninvasive like a life-line.
So we went back to my doctor (ironically her office is right next to the movie theater). She was super awesome again, going over all the words, those I understood and didn’t understand. She let me ask the questions and listened when I told her how “nothing bad ever happens to me so this is kind of new territory” and vent about health insurance. She told me her office would get me scheduled asap with a breast surgeon. She also said that nothing I did over Derby would affect my diagnosis, and I should enjoy myself.
It was not a joyful Derby. Lots of rain for the city and lots of worry for me. We went to a party, and I’m glad. Good food, good people. I told a few friends, and drank a lot of bourbon.
And now I wait. My appointment with the surgeon is next Tuesday. I will find out what my options are and hopefully get some reassurance–the doctor who did the biopsy later made a note in my records that there is concern for underlying invasive component that was not present in the sampled cores.