Got the letter in the mail from the medical center’s radiology dept. yesterday, with the finding: “Possible malignancy – schedule biopsy through your surgeon”. Does everybody’s scare include a letter like that even if it turns out to be benign? There were about 10 choices with little boxes beside each one stating things like “Please retun for additional views as your films are not conclusive enough for a thorough reading”, or “looks like a benign nodule, call for follow up in 6 months”, etc…but mine was the very last box on the page. I felt like falling apart but I didn’t. I put the letter in my filing cabinet and shut the drawer. Don’t want my kids to see that. I guess I already knew the news, but this was the first time I’d seen that word…malignancy. It’s never had a good reputation.
Today brings just horrible news. Not for me, but for my son. He is a junior in college and in a singing group there. They tour and perform and returned last night from 4 days in Boston. He brought three friends from the group back with him, one named Jim. Jim joined the group this year at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Jim was the only one who lived close by, so he left to go home late last night and the others crashed to sleep in our basement. Today Jim and his mom were murdered in their house by an intruder. This young 19 year old was here in my kitchen just 24 hours ago and now he is gone and we are all in such shock I can’t sleep. My son is just devastated. The group will forever be changed. You know, with cancer I have been thankful for each new day. This tragedy makes me thankful for each breath I take, and for those of my children. I can’t make sense of it, much less think of anything comforting to say to my son or his friends.
Kyle and his two friends left this afternoon to return to college , two hours away, where they hold jobs and had cars to pick up before heading home for the Christmas break. They are now on their way back here to talk with detectives who want to speak to them. Another night of college guys in my basement, this time with tears and somber faces. Doesn’t feel like Christmas at all.
It’s been about a month since I last posted to this blog. I’ve been very busy this summer with two college sons home and two high schoolers needing taxi service, and sharing a car with my husband while the kids are working. I’ve also been growing my jewelry business now that I have decided to be a full time stay at home mom (or shall I say Work At Home Mom). I moved my jewelry making studio into the dining room but that has begun to look cluttered and outa control, so I am moving it to the basement now in hopes of staying out of my family’s way.
Just before we left on our beach vacation I had my annual mammogram. I’ve had a lump before, but after being told many times not to worry, that it was nothing, and after realizing it hadn’t grown from its pea size in over 4 years, I honestly started to believe it was nothing and decided to put it off. I was now 4 months overdue for my mamogram, so off I went. They told me in two weeks I would receive the results, and handed me an envelope to address to myself so they could mail the results. Two weeks never came. Within just 3 days I had a phone call and they mailed a letter to me (neither of which I got until after reurning from vacation a week later!) to return for a diagnostic mammogram “They’ve found something” it said.
So this week I went for the smash- you- flatter- than- a- piece- of- paper test. (That other one was just a smash- you- flatter- than- a- pancake test! ) When I walked into the room , the technician placed my first films up on the light box to show me. “Here”, she said, “is what we are going after”, and she pointed to a white sort of starry “thing” in the center of my breast. “We need alternate views of this”, she said, “just to be sure it’s not just a reflection or film mistake”. I asked her if this was the pea sized lump I’d been feeling for years on my side, and she said no, this was behind the nipple. So I put on the gown and she took the films. After seeing stars from the painful procedure where they stretched my nipple to Kingdom Come, the technician sat me down and told me to wait to be sure the films turned out, and then after that I could leave. Soon she returned and told me that they needed to do an ultrasound. So down the halls we went to the ultrasound room where a doctor/radiologist did the scan. She took what seemed like a hundred shots and measurements of what appeared to be a gray blobby ball with folded, wrinkled edges, and when I asked her how big it was she said about an inch or the size of a quarter (except it isn’t flat). When all was done she told me they needed to biopsy it with a tissue biopsy to determine what it is. With a totally doctor sort of look on her face she told me they always hope that it is benign. No personality, this woman, just a serious, blank matter of fact look. Inside, I was feeling horror. “They’ll call you in 3 – 5 days to schedule your procedure.” The next day I thought to myself, why should I have to wait for THEM! So I called them up myself and am now scheduled 19 days from now for a tissue biopsy where they make a 1/4 inch incision and use a proble to extract tissue. Then, they’ll take more films (ouch!) Sounds lovely doesn’t it? The part where she told me they’ll “Numb you deeply” is the real part that makes my skin crawl!
So here I am waiting and wondering to myself if this is what the warm , burning sensation I’ve been feeling for months in my breast is, and kicking myself that I hadn’t gotten it checked sooner, and what are they going to tell me in 3 weeks? I’m angry that doctors for years have told me that a family history that goes back 3 generations to two great-great-aunt’s deaths from breast cancer at 44 & 46 years of age, but skipped the last two generations, means nothing at all. And maybe it doesn’t, but what if it DOES matter? Angry at myself for putting things off. Angry at that matter of fact doctor who has NO business working with women in medicine because she has no heart…I’m just angry right now. Maybe I have no reason to be, and maybe it really is nothing at all but whatever it is, it’s going to have to come OUT!? That can’t be fun,now, can it!?
I shared all of this that very same day with my best friend, because after calling your mom and your sister, that is the first thing you do after getting news like that! She told me she’d been fighting with her clinic for months (6 months) to get her diagnostic mammogram which her nurse practioner prescribed, and that everyone kept giving her the run around because it didn’t come from a “real” doctor, and she had finally thrown up her hands and just said forget it. I’ll wait until next year when I can request a “real” doctor. Now, she says she’s not waiting. I hope that if you’re reading this and putting it off for yourself, that you won’t either.
It worked for me and I hope it works for you. Check out Works For Me Wednesdays at Rocks in my dryer!