I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma on December 28, 2012. Really?? I'm 36, I have an 8 and 4 year old. I breast fed both my babies for over a year. I have no family history of breast cancer. I should not have breast cancer. Should I?
It all started on Monday, December 17th. I found a lump. No big deal, or so I thought. I'm an under-reactor by nature. I tell myself, "it's just a cyst or fibroid". No big deal. I don't even mention it to Mike. The next morning I call and schedule with my OBGYN. It's been three years since I've seen them. What?? Where did the time go...three years? Later in the day, I meet up with Erika in the pouring rain to get pedi's and chat. At some point I tell Mike about it. Erika and I talk about it too.
I see my OBGYN on Wednesday, he says, "let's get a mamogram and ultrasound". Friday I go for the tests. I have a mamogram tech with a very big personality. She has me laughing the entire way through the mamogram. We swap stories about kids and husbands. We chat it up during the 20 minutes I'm with her. She tells me to go back out to the waiting room while the radiologist reviews the images. She calls me back to take more images. Still not too worried. Until...I realize the feeling in the room is different. Something has changed. As I leave the room for the second time, she gives me a huge hug. I think to myself that it's an "I'm so sorry" hug. CRAP! Now, I know that she is a tech, not a doctor. But, I also know that she looks at these all day. I'm pretty sure she has an idea of what she is looking at. Next up is the ultrsound. More uncomfortable tension in the air as the ultrasound tech looks and then proceeds to tell me that the radiologist would like to have a look. The radiologist says, "we need to do a biopsy, this mass is solid and suspicious".
I have to wait until Wednesday to have the biopsy. Tuesday is Christmas. I have to go through the holiday's with this weighing on my mind. Saturday night we rode the "Santa Train" in St. Augustine. It's a family tradition. I can't help but look at my sweet girls and think that this could be the last year I ride the Santa Train with them. Oh why does my mind go there? I try to hold back the tears as my girls look at the beautiful Christmas lights and I look at my beautiful girls like it may be the last time I spend Christmas with them. I'm not an anxious person but for that week, waiting to have a biopsy and get the results, I'm crazy. I don't even recognize myself. I wake up during the night shaking. I can't sleep at all. I can't stand the thought of not seeing my girls grow up. I can't stand the thought of leaving Mike to take care of our girls alone. I pray, and I pray, and I pray. Does my Father hear me...I wonder. I know He does. I just have to have faith.
Friday, December 29th the radiologist calls. The first thing she asks is, "are you driving". I already know what she is going to say, but now I REALLY know. It's cancer. I tell her I'm not driving, but I want to grab a pen and paper. After writing down lots of information such as type of cancer, size, additional testing I need to have, etc. I ask her if there is anything else I should know. The doctor tells me no and we hang up. I'm surprised at how calm I am. I think to myself, are most people this calm when they find out they have cancer? Mike comes in the room. He knows too. I've been on the phone too long for it to be a simple, "it's benign". We have to tell our family. Those are the hardest phone calls to make. I text my friends and church family. I know the prayers begin, because I can feel them. My Father does hear me and I finally start to feel a peace that I have never felt before. Thank you God for your grace and that beautiful peace.
I'm assigned a Breast Cancer Nurse Coordinator that helps me schedule appointments and interprets medical lingo for me. She presents my case to a round table of 7 doctors. All 7 say I should have a double mastectomy for several reasons. So, on January 21st I have a 5 hour long surgery. A bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. When I wake up, I'm told that no cancer was found in my lymph nodes and all margins are clear. I'm so thankful to the Lord for this. More good news to come. Genetic testing comes back that I don't carry the gene for breast/ovarian cancer. Further pathology shows that I had stage II breast cancer. They believe I had the cancer for two years.
Even though I'm considered CANCER FREE after the surgery. I still have to do chemotherapy. This reduces the risk of the cancer returning in a different part of my body.
I really wish I would have journaled during these past few months. This has been the most difficult time in my life. Physically it's been painful. Emotionally it's been scary. It's been horrible to see the physical changes due to surgery and chemo. It's been quite an experience, but I have survived. I have learned a lot and I will never be the same. In the most wonderful way. I will never be the same.