My husband and I met with the surgeon on Monday. I am scheduled for surgery next week, September 25 for removal of the mass, which is the size of a large olive. This procedure is an excisional biopsy since they are not totally sure the make up of this tumor. In fact the diagnosis officially listed on my pathology report says “FA? vs. cancer”, meaning questionable fibroadenoma vs. cancer. That’s not terribly comforting, yet statistically the numbers are in my favor that it is benign. I hold onto that but still have nervous stomach aches and sleepless nights. I finally told my youngest son (17) and he was visably upset with the news but I reassured him that this is probably nothing. Another waiting game ahead…
So here is what I am learing about fiboadenomas. Cause enough to have a total removal and biopsy the entire tumor!
Radiologists must be familiar with a variety of benign breast conditions to confidently distinguish malignant disease from benign disease. Fibroadenomas are benign tumors composed of stromal and epithelial elements. These tumors are commonly seen in young women. Multiple or complex fibroadenomas may indicate a slightly increased risk for breast cancer; the relative risk of patients with such fibroadenomas is approximately twice that of patients of similar age without fibroadenomas.
Fibroadenomas do not cause pain or tenderness. A “complex” fibroadenoma contains abnormal growths or exhibits abnormal cell changes. Although fibroadenomas themselves do not become cancerous (National Cancer Institute 2001b), they can act as markers for the disease. Women with a family history of breast cancer who also develop complex fibroadenomas might be at a higher risk for developing cancer than other women. Fibroadenomas are not difficult to remove and rarely recur.
I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I knew the test results were due in today so I called and left a message for my doctor to call me. At last after waiting the whole day, he did call and told me that my tumor is a “complex fibroidadenoma” which means it needs to be removed and tested further. He said it’s not your just run of the mill fibroidenoma, which are just fibrous and glandular tissue abnormalities turned into hard lump, but he said he’d talk to me more Monday at my appointment. So for now I am breathing a sigh of relief! Whew! At any rate, I’m just glad they’ll be taking it out. Hopefully they’ll test it and be sure there’s no chance of it becoming anything more and that’ll be the end of that.
Your mind sort of gets carried away with you during times like this, and you start thinking about all the reasons why YOU won’t be one of the lucky ones. Like a family history that has always been discounted but yet both my parents are only children so we’ll never know if they might have had it passed to a sibling or not. My dad had two aunts die from breast cancer in their 40s. They’ve always said “sister” or “mother” but the breast cancer gene is a breast cancer gene and who knows if it was passed on to me or not??
Taking birth control pills long term has been shown to cause breast cancer in younger women (I only just read THAT on my pill pack last week after 13 years being on them!!!!) And yet my gyn. says don’t go off of them until we know for sure what this is. The surgeon, on the other hand, told me get off them now! Who do you believe? I feel like I am wading in a sea of questions and uncertainties and controversy. It’s so maddening! I will know Monday…just 3 more days.
It’s been three days since the biopsy. I’m a bit sore still, a bit black and blue, but no longer misshapen. Ha! Whew! I was worried! My 15 year old daughter came home last night from volleyball practice with a set of ten light pink cancer awareness bracelets to sell for a fundraiser game she is playing in Sept. 23rd. I put mine on right away. She is the only one of the kids I have told about the biopsy. She asked me why I hadn’t told the boys, and I told her because she is my daughter, and because it may be nothing at all and I don’t want to worry them needlessly. Daughters are different. They have to face this possibility when they grow up and they need awareness of their own bodies. My husband doesn’t like this generalization of mine, but lets face it, girls don’t sexualize their breasts or that of other women. At least I don’t, and so we feel more comfortable sharing this type of information with one another. At any rate, it’s 4 more days now until the answers. I can feel the tumor more prominently now since the biopsy. I felt “something” before but wasn’t sure that was it, since there’s lots of lumps and bumps in that region. Now I know for sure. And I want it GONE, no matter what the outcome.
Today’s the biopsy. (*Evening Update below) I thought this day would never come. I’m just glad it’s here and I’m ready. I really do feel mentally ready for whatever comes. We went to a couples Bible study last night for the first time in 10 years. One of the things my friend said to me is that God uses pain in our lives to reach others for Himself. I never thought of it that way, I guess. I always just thought of suffering and pain as the curse from the “fall” of mankind, and that it was just our lot in life to experience pain from time to time. That God would use it to produce long suffering or patience in us. He does those things too, but I realized that God has spoken to me through the hardships I’ve seen others face and it is through their faith I have become stronger. So whatever the outcome today, my prayer will be, God use me. Interestingly enough we are reading a book called “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper. I haven’t read the book yet, but I really like the title. When you get to my age (45 next month-yikes!) you start to realize that you’re half way there (okay, well, I sort of think of it that way since my grandparents lived to 87 and 91). One grandma is 96 and still alive so I might be blessed with a few extra years on this earth. At any rate, you start to get serious about really living life and not letting a day go by that you don’t do what you were placed here to do. Now I feel serious about discovering that purpose and living it out each and every day.
I hope to know something by the end of this week. I pray the answer comes quickly.
UPDATE* The biopsy went well. They got 5 good cross sections of the mass as well as aspirated a nearby complex cyst. Pain was minimal and soreness this afternoon tollerable. I have an appiontment for results scheduled next Monday. It’s gonna be a l-o-n-g week.
This song is by Matt Redman:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Your perfect love is casting out fear.
And Even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life,
I won’t turn back, I know You are near.
And I will fear no evil
For My God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, you never let go
Lord, you never let go of me.
Yesterday I had gone to pick up a prescription for my daughter at our clinic. The pharmacy had a long wait, so I decided that while I was there I would request a copy of my radiology tests from August 19. After all, I had never actually looked at them myself, only at the letter sent to me by the department. Not the radiologists exact word, or findings. The nurse apologized that it had printed out every single test I had in the last 2 years, but I told her that was okay, and I had a long time to wait and read anyways. I flipped back about 17 months to when I had first had my right breast ultrasounded for a nodule I felt (and still feel) on the side. That, they said, was not detected on the images. “However”, it said, “an incidental mass was seen behind the aeroela on the right breast.” WHAT? Nothing was EVER said to me at the exam or afterwards and no letter was ever sent to me….it was as if someone just overlooked that and put my file away to be forgotten…until now…17 months later. Had I known then that those comments were in there, I probably would have questioned it and pursued finding out what this was at that early stage. Now it is a quarter size mass behind the aereola on that breast and I am furious and yet have nobody to be angry with. I guess it’s like many people are telling me, TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE. If you get a test, ask to see the written results for yourself. You are entitled to them. Don’t hope that they notify you of something concerning. They might not. They see a lot of patients. They get a lot of paperwork. It’s your test, your body, your decisions. Three more days.
Wouldn’t ya know I slipped on the stairs yestedrday carrying a large load of laundry and talking on the phone at the same time and boom! I landed right on my right breast onto the wooden knobby top at the end of the bannister. OUCH! I guess I’m gonna be in pain Monday anyways so I might as well get use to it, right?
Well, another thing to take this off my mind came in the form of a phone call this evening…my best friend has been diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The words hit like a brick, don’t they? I just can’t believe it. Nobody was expecting this one. Not even her! My concerns seem like a distant echo compared to those blaring words of confirmation for her. Friends need each other at these times. My thoughts have suddenly turned to someone other than myself , which is a good thing. I am hopeful for her.
Six more days until the biopsy. This must be the worst part. The not knowing…the worrying. I feel shooting sensations in my breast. I have had them for the past several months but sort of ignored it and figured they would tell me at my annual if I needed to worry about that. It’s a constant reminder of what’s to come, although, even that I don’t really know what to expect WILL come. I think about all sort sof things. I think about what I will say if they tell me its benign. I think of what I’ll do if they tell me it’s not. I think of what I’ll tell my children and I think of what my breast will look like if they have to operate on it in any way. I think to myself that it is all very strange that I decided in April that I would not return to work this fall and, everyone seemed so puzzled as to why I would do that! After all, I loved my job! I wanted to stay home full time and build my business and clean my house, I told myself. And really, it was the truth! But now I wonder if God has something else in the works for me and He was opening my schedule to make room for it. I could let my mind get carried away with this thing and I am trying really hard not to. My gynecologist called last week so I could talk to her about my test results and she seemed very guarded in her answers and said that this shouild feinately be explored. She also said (twice) “You’ll be in my prayers”. Why would she say that? I found it very odd. Did she read something ominous in the report? I wish knew for sure. Well on a lighter note, isn’t this butterfly pretty? I took this photo this Labor Day weekend when my husband and I went away for the night and stopped by an orchard on our way home from Pennsylvania. It could be published in National Geographic, don’t ya think? This is a hobby I have long wanted to explore, photography, and with the purchase of a new fancy camera I am on my way!
Until next week…