So, apparently, I have to have many tests before I can do this chemo thing. I need genetic testing, an MRI, blood work, a PET scan, an echo cardiogram for my heart and another biopsy. This time, it’s on my right breast because they saw something that looks “suspicious.” My new not so favorite word. This is a different type of biopsy because it’s not a lump. It’s just tiny calcifications so they have to take samples.
When I get to the room, there is a table with a hole in the middle of it. That’s right. It’s a boob hole. I’m told to lie down face first and put my right breast in there. The nurse raises the table a little. There is a mammogram machine below it to squeeze my breast for the biopsy. Fantastic. I lie there for an hour with my face to the wall, my arm raised above my head, boob squeezed and a needle stuck in it sucking out my calcifications. I’m told not to move an inch or will mess up the photos. My boob hurts. My neck is killing me. My back aches. I can’t see anything. I imagine them sitting on stools bending over and working on my boob. Finally, they are done. The nurse tells me I can move. I immediately push up to my knees to stretch my back, and she yells, “Careful.” To my surprise, as I look down, the table is so high, I hit my head on the ceiling. I had no idea that I was so high. That whole time, they weren’t sitting on stools bending over me. They were standing under me and working on me like a CAR!!!!!! I was a car with a boob coming down from the ceiling. I laughed and laughed. How ridiculous was that? I mean seriously, who gets worked on like a car? Then on the way home, it hit me what had just happened and that this is real. I called my dad so I could hear his voice, and I cried all the way home on the 101 Freeway.
The good news is that there is no cancer in my right breast.
That, in my opinion, is worth being a car, and wrapped like a mummy for a few days.
So, I finally get my “team” together now that I know what that means(surgeon, radiologist, oncologist, nurse etc). And now that I have had few appointments, I know what type of cancer I have. I have to be honest. I didn’t even know there were different types of breast cancer. I must have been in a hole all of this time. I’m mad at myself over my ignorance.
Okay, so here it goes. I’m stage 2b. My cancer is HER2 over express and is an aggressive form of breast cancer. I’m also estrogen and progesterone positive which basically means my hormones are fueling this pesky thing. Yay! So, because of this, I will be doing things a little backward in my treatment plan. I will be having 6 rounds of chemo first followed by surgery, then radiation, and then daily medicine for 10 years. TEN YEARS! I can’t even grasp that one yet. During chemotherapy, I will be on two types of chemo and two other types of medicine that work with chemo for this type of cancer. One of these meds is called Herceptin. It is a miracle drug. Apparently, about 15 years ago this medicine hadn’t been invented yet, and there was nothing for my type. My doctor literally said that before this medicine, “Women were dropping off like flies,” and it was fatal. There was nothing for HER2. So, I’m grateful for you Herceptin. I love you. You can run through my veins anyday.
The last several days have been a blur. I’m a mess. One day I’m fine. The next I cry hysterically. I just cry and cry and cry. Why me? What did I do? I try and be a good mom. A good person. I eat healthy. I workout. I know I drink a little too much Diet Coke. But this? Yes, I have a couple of glasses of wine a week. But this? And too, I probably sneak a little too much chocolate late at night. But this? Honestly, what did I do? I look at myself, and I see a strong woman who does level 12 on the Stairmaster, lifts weights and is a trained kickboxer. Who does that? Not someone with cancer. There is no way someone with cancer can still do that. I can’t have cancer. I just can’t.
In the day, I’m fine. I have to be. I still have to take care of my babies. It’s the night that gets me. As I lie my head on my pillow, my thoughts run wild. They consume me. What if I die? Who will help with kids? What will Chris do? Where will they go? Is my life insurance enough? Who will be there when they graduate? Who will be there for their weddings? Who will teach them to take care of their own children? To eat healthy? To exercise? To live and love life? Who will be there for every single scrape, cut, bruise and break up? Who will teach my boys to be gentlemen? Who will teach my daughter that she can be anything she wants to be? WHO WILL BE THEIR MOM? I barely sleep. I can’t stop my thoughts. The circles under my eyes are so bad. I cry myself to sleep. No one knows.
I waited all weekend knowing the results would be in Monday or Tuesday. I had my phone by me all day on Monday but as the day came to a close, I figured I had one more day of not knowing because no one called. Then, while my husband was putting our kids to bed at 7:30ish, the phone rang. I answered. It was my gynecologist. I was ill-prepared because I had let my guard down for the night. Very simply, he said, “I wish I had better news for you, but you have breast cancer.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation except that he told me I needed to get a team together. I didn’t even know what he meant.
I sat in the bedroom by myself waiting for Chris to finish singing to the kids. I could hear him singing “Hush Little Baby Don’t You Cry.” Ironic. I didn’t cry. I just stared at the wall and sat on the bed. When he came out, I told him. I don’t remember his reaction. I was numb. I called my mom. She cried. I called my dad. He cried. I went next door to tell our neighbors and good friends. I don’t remember the rest. I was numb. I was numb. I was numb. On March 14th, 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The day is finally here. Thank goodness. My thoughts have gotten the best of me this week. It’s amazing how waiting a whole week to find out about your “suspicious” lumps messes with your mind. I’m not going to lie, wine has been a very good friend of mine these last few days. Normally, I’m a red drinker, but I even had some white this week. That’s right. I broke down and had some white. Forgive me.
I don’t know what to expect on this day, but the needles are really big and way too long. I mean way too long like crocheting needle long. They really shouldn’t let you see them. Thank goodness they numb you before. I thought this was going to be a quick procedure but three hours later I was still on the table. Finally, I’m done. my boob has been poked enough. When I leave, I have bandages all over, what looks like saran wrap around my ribs and ice packs in my bra. I look amazing.
This, however, is not the best part of the day. The best is that of course I have a call back audition for a KFC commercial in the afternoon. Do I go? Even though I can’t move? Yes, yes, I do. The show must go on. So, while I’m pretending to eat chicken(which is actually slices of wonder bread) and licking my lips, I look around the room at everyone else. I imagine I’m the only one here who is saran wrapped and has ice packs in their bra. I really should get the part for just this alone. Right? Or at least an Oscar for this amazing ice pack filled wonder bread performance.
I don’t get the part, but I do get these lovely bruises. Biopsies are no fun.
Today, at my mammogram that I finally booked, I was told that “It looks very suspicious.” What? This is not the news I was looking to hear. This cannot be. I’m in shape. I exercise. I eat healthy. This lump is just a milk duct. I’m just sure of it. I’m looking at the radiologist. I’m just staring at him. I don’t speak except to say, “This is not the news I was expecting.” The nurse hands me a tissue. I dab my eye, but I don’t cry. I just stare. They are waiting for me to cry. I can tell. I don’t. This is silly. He tells me that I have three spots that look “very suspicious,” and that I need three biopsies. I’m by myself because I told my husband to stay home so we didn’t have to find a sitter. Wow. I really am by myself. I did not expect this. I must be hearing this incorrectly. And yet, before I leave, I have an appointment for next week for my biopsies. Now, I have to wait a whole week. A WHOLE WEEK!!! I don’t have time for this. I think I’ll pass. No thank you. I’m too busy. Besides, this is just silly. It’s just a duct. Wow. I really am by myself.
It was the middle of December 2015. I was taking a shower and washing under my arm, when I felt it. I felt a lump. I have small breasts and have breastfed my kiddos so I was surprised to be feeling anything quite frankly. After feeling it for a bit, I got out of the shower, and had my husband feel it too. Yep, he felt it too. I honestly didn’t think much about it, because I had just stopped breastfeeding 6 months before. I thought it was just a milk duct, a little extra milk my body was saving. I did know that I needed to call and get my lovely yearly exam so this gave me my little push. I called my gynecologist the next day. I told the receptionist that I had a lump and needed to book my yearly. They did not have an appointment for 8 week. EIGHT WEEKS!!!!!!! I couldn’t believe this so the receptionist offered to have the nurse practitioner call me. Of course, I said yes. She did. She asked me some questions about my history, if it runs in my family, and if I have breastfed my children etc. I didn’t fit any of these categories. I already knew this. She told me not to worry about the lump and that it was nothing. It was nothing. She told me it would be fine to wait 8 weeks to come in and not to worry about a thing. After all, she was right. Breast cancer does not run in my family. I’m too young. I have breastfed three children, and I just stopped nursing my one and a half year old. So, I hung up the phone, convinced myself it was a milk duct and went about my life. Yes. I really did this. She put me at such ease, I forgot about it. I really forgot about it. Plus, when you have three young kids, you are just lucky to make it through the day with all of them still alive. Myself was the last thing on my mind. Eight weeks later, my gynecologist thought the same. He thought my lump just felt like a duct, but he ordered me a mammogram anyway to put my mind at ease. I felt silly. I was just being silly. It was just a duct. I came home and even waited another whole week to call for my mammogram appointment. Yes, I’m a busy mom of three. I really did this too. It’s just a duct.