I'm a rambler, especially when I write emails I totally ramble. To spare all the folks that care about me long, rambling, emails with more detail than most would ever want to know, I'm creating this blog to put my long rambling updates regarding my recently discovered breast lump. The lump that is defying our efforts so far to learn of his makeup. If you want to know where my lump and I stand - check here. If you want the briefest possible explanation of how it's going - call my husband. When it comes to communication, he and I are polar opposites. What do they say, that women speak on average 20,000 words per day and men 7,000? I'd venture to say we're both better than average - I speak more, he speaks less. We balance out that way, I think. I have no idea if he thinks that, but I'll just continue thinking that because it makes me happy.
My breast lump history so far:
12/24/08 - First thing in the morning I feel a lump in my left breast, right around 2 o'clock (if my breast told time). It feels huge, gigantic to me. Merry Xmas Eve! Doctors office closed until Friday.
12/26/08 - See my fabulous doctor, she confirms that I do indeed have a lump. She says not to worry, it's probably nothing - most lumps that appear like this are nothing, cysts. She writes a prescription for a mammogram. My first - I suck, no doubt about it. 45 and getting first mammogram = very bad. Start at 35 ladies!
12/31/08 - Mammogram time. Even with my tender lump it is totally painless, amazingly NBD. I'm then moved to another room where a very nice technician sonograms both of the girls, so far the right one is completely clear - but she not only finds my lump, she sees two "concerning" area's near it. She goes to get the doctor, and I start to feel very, very anxious. Dr. Radiologist appears, sonograms the left (lumpy) breast for quite some time, then announces that the little spot we see nearest the lump is a lymph node, and the second one she sees is - nothing, just a shadow. Lymph node INSIDE my breast - how did that get there??? I find this news alarming, but he assures me it's totally normal, some women just have some in there. And this one is only of interest because it's living next to the lump. May be an issue, may be nothing. He tells me that my lump is "very concerning", it is not a cyst - it's a solid mass of some sort, and cysts aren't solid. He says I need a biopsy done STAT, he suggests a core biopsy, done with an oversized hollow needle, no big deal, he does them right here in this very facility. And he says it's not huge, it's "average" - about 2.5 centimenters long. It's now noon on New Years Eve, so scheduling for this is closed. Merry New Years!
1/5/09 - I get a full physical from my fabulous, bestus doctor in the world. Being the compassionate healer that she is, she rushes my results, the next morning I have emails. All blood, urine and pap tests are "perfect". Finally - a lil good news.
1/7/09 - Biopsy day! Loyal husband by my side, we discover he cannot accompany me during the procedure. They don't let men behind the door from the waiting room - ever! This is a women's facility, no men! Except my radiologist, right? He's a man. First thing I do when he enters is to express my displeasure at not having my husband with me. He smiles condescendingly - shoulda been my first clue. I ask him what the odds are that he'll miss - that he won't get a piece of the lump? Second condescending smile - he basically says I do not miss, ever! He get's on with it, and it's unpleasant - not horrible, but very unpleasant. He's grunting and pushing.....a giant needle into my breast. I start my usual nervous babbling, I ask "now if this test comes back as less than something good, what....." He cuts me off with "Oh I fully expect this to come back CANCER, I'm quite sure that it is CANCER. We just need the pathology report to confirm it....." No idea what he said after that, my vision starting getting dark and narrowing down to a tunnel, my ears are buzzing, I truly thought I was going to pass out. This thoughtless man just told me I had cancer, with me lying flat on my back, topless, while he's in the middle of grinding a giant needle in my breast - knowing I had a supportive husband right outside the door whom I wanted to be in there anyway. Awful, just the worst.
He says we'll have the results in 2 to 3 business days, Friday or Monday - "if you don't hear from me Monday, call me Tuesday morning to remind me" WTF?? I am positive he won't call first - no doubt in my mind.
Tuesday I'm calling, leaving messages. Finally in the late afternoon I pitch a fit, and I finall get a technician that says she can read my results to me,"Congratulations! It's negative, it's benign!" I inform her that the doctor had told me this was not possible, is she absolutely sure? I'm put on hold for 10 very long minutes. She comes back saying the doctor must to talk to me, he's going to call me right away. He does and says that he firmly believes that he obtained "insufficient tissue", that he did get a piece of the lump for sure, but he believes it's just the outside of it - not it's core, not anything that will show us what it actually is. He says it's because it was so hard and dense, he couldn't really penetrate it. I'm learning this now?? I'm good and truly pissed now, but to no end. He says I need it excised, the whole lump needs to come out or we won't know what it is. And he says he would be "shocked" if it's actually benign. I tell him I already have an appt with a breast surgeon the following Monday, and now he's shocked. "You already have a surgeon appointment?" Well you told me I had cancer a week ago you asshole, so yes, I got myself a breast surgeon. He then tells me he thinks the surgeon I chose is "one of the best, if not THE best around". Thankfully my bestus doctor ever had recommended him, not this guy. Oh! Lastly, he gives me his cell number - he knows I'm very upset with him, and so he wants me to call him with any questions I have. Anyone want a cell number for a rotten radiologist?
1/19/09 - We met the breast surgeon this morning. We've scheduled an excisional biopsy for Friday 1/30. Basically he's doing a lumpectomy - it's just not officially called that without a cancer diagnosis. I'll be prepped for a sentinal node biopsy as well. It's going to go down like this: at 12:00 noon I go to his office, he injects radioactive dye into my lump. At 2:30 at the surgery center across the street I have the surgery. I'm knocked out, thankfully, and he removes the lump, treating it as he would if he knew it was cancer, attempting to get "clean margins" all around it. The patholist is standing by and does a "frozen section" on the lump, basically flash freezing it and slicing a thin slice out of the middle. He examines this right then. If he can see cancer, and it's an invasive cancer (one that can spread) then the doc proceeds to remove the sentinal lymph nodes. With a geiger counter (I'm now radioactive, literally), and following the blue dye he locates the lymph nodes (in the arm pit) that are directly coming from the tumor, and removes them. If it's cancer, and if it has spread to lymph nodes, it always follows this path of closest one, then next one, etc. He'll also attempt to get that breast dwelling lymph node we saw on the sono - if it's nearby and he can snag it.
If the pathologist see's nothing but benign cells, or a non-invasive cancer, the doc sews me up and that's the end of this surgery - no node biopsy. We wait until the following Monday (Groundhog day, to continue the holiday theme of my lump journey) for the full pathology report. It could go several ways: completely and totally benign - not cancer, but something else (there's a couple things that could be, none lethal, B9 is good). A non-invasive cancer, or the more typical invasive Cancer. If the pathologist proclaimed it benign during surgery and then finds some invasive cancer with the more extensive testing, then I'm back to surgery for the sentinal lymph node removal after all. And if it's a cancer they also will test the margins around the lump, if they are not clean, if there's not healthy tissue surrounding the lump - he'll be going back in for further excision of the site - looking to get the clean margins. And it's day surgery, I'll be home Friday night. Recovery shouldn't be too bad, it'll be worse if he removes the nodes - then I'll have a drain in my pit for about a week which sounds unpleasant.
That's it for now, 11 days of waiting. My boss is scheduled to be induced on Wed., in two days. Hopefully she'll quickly and easily have a healthy baby boy, go home Thursday, then have a week to recoup before I'm out with my surgery. We are both, very, very stressed.
If anyone has suggestions, things pertaining to lumps I should read, doctor suggestions, etc. bring it on - I'd love to hear about it. I'm information girl - cannot get enough information.
I will post more about how I feel, what I've told my son, Mr. K, later. I figure this is where I'll put updates, post answers to questions that people are ask me - things like - like "didn't your mom die of cancer a year ago?" Yes, but it may have no bearing due to the circumstances, etc. I'll later post what is most likely to happen if it is indeed the big C, etc. And thank you for keeping this an adult site for now - no sharing with the under 21 set for now please.