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Thoughts Of Suicide

Confession: March 24th was going to be the end for me. Months with no car, pain, painful treatments, meds screwed up, isolated, low on cash...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Breast Lump Chronicles: Biopsy

A week after I had the mammogram confirming there was a lump in my right breast, I was scheduled for a biopsy. Actually, two biopsies. One for the lump in my breast and the second for the one in my armpit. The second was so small that an ultrasound was the only way it would've been detected I was told. I consider myself very lucky.
Someone once sang, "The waiting is the hardest part" and it certainly has been for me. I want this condition seen, diagnosed, treated and done with already! Enough with the waits! But that's not realistic or healthy. Breast cancer is conquered one step at a time.
My next step was the biopsy. Ultrasound with a needle chaser! The idea is far worse than the actual procedure. You simply lie on your back with the 'questionable' breast cleansed with Betadine then it's draped with a thing that looks like a kid's 'Goodnight' pad with a hole in the middle and then the inside of your boob is onscreen. If you're lucky (or inclined) enough to have proper position, you get to watch the entire procedure. Once they numb you with a Lidocaine injection, you don't have anything else to do but watch--you certainly can't feel anything. Watching made me feel better somehow.
I watched as the dark space in the ultrasound was pierced with a device that took a sample of the mass in question and sounded like something at the dentist's office. Drill baby drill! Felt a little pressure but no pain at all. The lump in my armpit or axilla was a little deeper, a little harder to sample but the procedure was done properly and painlessly.
After everything was done, I was patched up with sterile dressings, given instructions to follow for the sites' aftercare and given two cute little discs that turned out to be mini icepacks. Now, another wait begins.
Only I could have scheduled a biopsy on a Friday! Why not? Wasn't I the genius who had a mammogram on Friday the 13th? But this was particularly maddening because my results would not be ready before Monday or "the next business day." CRAP!!!
I was given an appointment with a surgeon 'just in case.' These people specialize in this area, they already knew what the outcome was going to be and were being proactive.
My weekend was spent worrying about what could be. 'Imagine the worst,' right? I was prepping to restart a career--now that would have to be put on hold. Luckily, I found a remarkable book called "A Breast Cancer Alphabet" and it's been a godsend. It covers everything you can imagine in 208 pages and is written by a woman who writes as if she's known you all your life. Anything you can ask, she can answer. The author got me through the weekend. I'm ready.
Monday the news came.
I have breast cancer.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Breast Lump Chronicles: Discovery

I'm watching our local NBC affiliate's news program when the co-anchor reminds viewers that "it's 'Buddy Check Day.' Call your buddy and remind them to do a breast self-exam." Nice public service statement. They do it every tenth of the month. Okay, I wasn't really doing anything anyway, I was alone so I thought 'why not?' I 'assumed the position' of left hand behind the head, right hand on the 'boobie' and circle the entire area with my fingertips. Nada. Nothing. Just as I suspected. As I began the same movements with my left hand to my right breast, something felt strange. Hey, wait a minute. Am I actually feeling a lump? No. Can't be. Probably just imagining it. Drama momma and all that. But dammit, something is definitely 'not right.'
The next morning, I called my doctor and in typical fashion I started with, "This may not be anything, and I'm probably just wasting your time but is there any way I could come and get a breast exam? I think I found a lump."
"Come right on in." the receptionist said. Wow, I thought, they must not be busy at all today--or they need the business. Either way, lucky me!
In the exam room, the nurse practioner asked me all the routine questions. No, I don't have any family history of cancer. Yes, I get a mammogram every year--well, not for the past two years but I'm pretty good about self-exams so not getting screened for two years isn't that bad, right?
After a rather prolonged and might I say thorough exam, the NP said, "I definitely feel something but I'm not sure. May not be anything but I'm going to schedule you for a diagnostic mammogram." Okay. No big deal. Any good doctor or NP would do the same thing. So I got dressed and waited at 'check-out' while the staff made my appointment. After about fifteen minutes the receptionist handed me a card and said, "You're scheduled for a mammogram at Tennova Imaging for this Friday." Great, I thought. I'm going to have a mammogram that could change my life on FRIDAY the 13TH! Wouldn't you know it?
Woke up that morning, did all the prep work I was allowed to do pre-mammogram (no lotions, powders or deodorant) and proceeded to drive--in the pouring rain--to the medical center. I arrived, checked in, gave all the routine info and waited in their lobby which just so happens to be named the "Peyton and Ashley Manning Center." For some reason, knowing the couple had made a donation to make a difference in people's lives made me feel better...and I'm a #18 fan.
The mammogram led to an ultrasound which led to the confirmation of a lump in my right breast and the discovery of one under my right arm so small it wouldn't have been felt in a self-exam for a long time. Wouldn't you just know it? What a Friday the 13th I was having!
On second thought, it might turn out to be the luckiest day of my life.
Next week, I am scheduled for two biopsies. My right beast 'gets a needle' and so does the area under my right arm. I'm a little scared. I'm also pretty much alone in this. Support from friends/family will be minimum at best and I know it. Besides, conversing about this with the blogging universe will give me all I'll need. Everything will be alright, right?
Now comes the first in what promises to be a series of "waits." I have to wait for the biopsies to be done, then wait for the results, wait for a consultation and so on. If you don't have anything else to do, want to wait with me?