Monday, March 15, 2010

Here's What's Going on with Me

Well friends, here is news. About a month ago I was sitting around, as is my wont, and I felt a little lump in my right breast, right next to my nipple. If I had still been nursing Hank, I would have thought it was one of those little milk reservoirs. I noted it and then went about my life for a week. I mean, you know how boobs are, they seem to change from time to time throughout the month. The next week I noticed it again, and decided to go have it checked. Then three days later I actually did. I thought the nurse practitioner would say, "Oh, that's a so-and-so, no need to worry." What she actually did was to tell me to go have a mammogram, but not to freak out. She said that I needed a baseline anyway, because I am 37. Or as I like to think of myself, "barely 37."

That was on a Friday. The next Monday I went to the mammography place. Waiting for this to begin, I was still not really worried. The odds were that it would be nothing. And after the nurse gave me a kimono that she'd taken out of one of those blanket warmers, and I was reading magazines with the other kimono'd ladies, I felt a little like I was at a spa. Maybe waiting for a facial. But then the mammogram started and it was like the worst spa treatment ever. Then they asked me to wait with the magazines again. It was a different bunch of ladies and I no longer felt like I was enjoying a day of pampering. The tech came and got me and said that they wanted eight more pictures, and an ultrasound. If possible the second round of pictures was more uncomfortable than the first, as it included a fun thing called "spot compression." Then I was whisked to the ultrasound room. Or not whisked. Made to wait in my kimono some more.

Then the ultrasound tech did her thing with the ultrasound wand and the warm jelly. That took a little while, and I could see the monitor but nothing on it meant anything to me. Not like looking for the baby's little feet. Then she said, "Okay, I'm going to go get the radiologist and she's probably going to want to scan for herself." She left, and I lay there in the dark for fifteen minutes. I had the kimono and a towel and the cold jelly. I thought about my innocent clothes waiting in a locker. I thought it probably wasn't good that the radiologist wanted to come look for herself. I thought about Laura and Hank. This was a low point.

Finally the doctor came in and took a brief look and said, "We want you to go have a needle biopsy of this." Then she talked about ultrasound-guided biopsy and implanting a titanium chip with the biopsy needle, and then a mammogram to check the localization of the chip in comparison to the mass (we were calling it that now, a mass), and then a possible stereotactic biopsy if the chip didn't match up to the location of the mass. Confused? It took me a couple of run throughs to get it. I was still lying there with the towel and the jelly, and I felt like I'd lost about fifty IQ points. The doctor said something about calcifications, and I said, "You mean calcium like in bones?" I think she thought I was a little slow.

This was when my reality changed from "there is nothing wrong with me" to "there is maybe something wrong with me." It was one of the grimmest moments of this whole thing thus far. Somehow I got dressed and then the ultrasound tech was calling to schedule my biopsy for me. I told her that I couldn't do it Friday, because I had Laura's slumber party that night. Then I almost started to cry, but I pinched the web of skin between my thumb and index finger really hard with my other hand. I used my fingernails, and that helped. I did not want to walk out of there in tears.

A few days later, a week ago Thursday, I went to have the needle biopsy. Matt went with me. Everyone was great, the nurses were really caring and good. I admired them. Instead of leaving me alone in the dark, a nurse named Shelly came in and told me that the radiologist was delayed a little bit, then she talked to me about the Olympics. We covered them in minute detail. We were on to the possible underscoring of Johnny Weir's routine when the doc came in and got underway. Shelly held my hand.

(Remember that joke where the doctor says to the woman, "First I need to numb your breasts." "All right doctor, go ahead." So he goes, "Num num num num num!" It's an oldie but a goodie.)

I was still, even then, basically convinced that it would be nothing. I had just heard of so many people with lumps that turned out to be benign. They're boobs, they have stuff going on. The biopsy crew said that maybe the pathology results would be back Friday afternoon, the day of Laura's party, and I wouldn't have to wait the weekend. No such luck, Friday came and went. Then Monday came and went, with only apologies from Shelly and the other nurses. By now I thought, "Hmm. If it's a bad diagnosis, they will need multiple pairs of eyes to confirm it and it will take longer."

Is this the longest post ever?

So then it was Tuesday morning and I was dressed to go to tennis practice. I was opening the door for Fabienne the house cleaner when the phone rang, and it was the radiologist who'd done the biopsy. That's not good when the radiologist calls instead of the nurse. She pretty quickly got the word "unfortunately" out, and then I knew that I'd been wrong, and that I'd missed my last chance for it to be just nothing. I was listening to her talk, and I walked into Matt's office and made a thumbs-down sign. We crowded around the phone as she told me I needed to go get a surgical consult, then she asked me if I wanted to know what the pathology report said, and I was like, "Uh, YES." She told me to get a pencil, and I wrote down "ductal carcinoma in situ" and "infiltrating ductal carcinoma," low to intermediate grade.

I hung up and we were pretty shaky. It was ten o'clock on the nose, and I thought, "Tennis is starting without me." I called Normal Neighbor, who is the tennis captain, and told her I wasn't coming to practice and why. She had been waiting for word of the biopsy results. Then I told Fabienne, because she was standing right there at ground zero. So now the tennis team knew, and my house cleaner. To put it mildly, I knew this would save me the trouble of telling a great many people. Fabienne, who is very sweet, and very spiritual, started talking to me about the End Times, and how everything happens for a Reason, and how I would be a Testimony to the people around me. I wanted to tell her, "Fabienne, I am not really there just yet, I mean to the being a testimony part, but one thing you can do to help me right now is clean my house." What I actually did was thank her and nod some.

Forty-five minutes later, Hank was at Pretty Neighbor's and Matt and I were at our regular doctor's office, an internist. She was reading the report as she came into the room. We were keeping it together. I had never actually met this doc before because I always see the nurse practitioner. I love nurse practitioners and think that they secretly run most things. That nurse had done my last gyno and breast exam back in September. So the doctor was new to me. She was very, very comforting. She said that this mass is small, that it's early, and that I'm going to be fine. She said that if I could pick a breast cancer, this would be the one. She said that it will be a bump in the road. We listened with greedy ears to this reassurance. She said that she would be shocked if it had spread to a lymph node. While I was glad to hear that, I also know that we won't know that until they are in there. I feel like I have arrived at this point against the long odds that it would be benign, so who knows? Maybe I will just continue to blast through the barriers erected by probability. But I hope not and I hope she is right.

I know that worse things are happening to people every minute. I know this won't kill me.

She told me that I would have a surgical consult with these breast specialists--they're said to be the best in the biz--and that I would probably have a lumpectomy. The tricky part was that this was last Tuesday, and I couldn't get any earlier appointment with the surgeons than a week hence, tomorrow. It was a long, long week. Every day felt like a month. I had this sense that urgent action was needed, but there was really nothing to do. Or, there were plenty of things to do. Lots of acting normal was required. Which wasn't so hard. Matt and I are feeling worried, but not really down. Just, like, "Let's figure out what the next thing is and do it."

In the morning, early--like the crack of doom early--Matt and I are heading down to Northside Hospital to meet the surgeon and figure out a plan. And I will tell you all what it is. Matt's mom is here to look after the kids tomorrow, and she arrived surfing on an avalanche of food her friends had sent. Lasagna at our place, y'all.

Could this post please be longer please? I didn't have time to make it shorter. So that is the news from here. I know that some of you have dealt with this very thing before. I kind of hate delivering this news via blog, because if you read here regularly, then I feel that we are friends. And it's kind of a crap way to tell bad news to friends, but I wanted y'all to know. This morning I had breakfast with Michele, and then we got our nails done. That was very therapeutic. And I kind of bought a lot of things from that Liberty of London line at Target. I'm sure you will be hearing about that too.

55 comments:

Beth said...

It sounds like you are in the best of hands in terms of medical staff. I will pray that they do absolutely exactly all the right things and make it easy for you to make any decisions you need to make...and also that you will have clarity of mind when you need it and overwhelming peace throughout.

the gazelle said...

I agree with Beth - it does sound like you are surrounded by a very competent medical team, not to mention some fantastic friends & family.

I will be thinking of you tomorrow, but know that my best wishes won't even be necessary.

Wish I could come over for that lasagna! Yum!

aimeewrites said...

Liberty of London must be some of the best therapy there is...I'm actually surprised your doc didn't mention it herself.

As heart-wrenching as this is, it sounds like you're on a good path for it. I'll be thinking of you guys tomorrow.

Mrs. Smith said...

Sending good thoughts your way.

mmeperpetua said...

I know this doesn't make your situation any better, but I have a friend who had almost exactly that same cancer. It really is the one you want to get, if the Wheel of Crap Roulette lands on you. She had a lumpectomy and is fine and cancer-free.

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. Sending lots of good energy your way.

Viki said...

I'm sorry to welcome you to the club no one wants to join. I've been reading your blog for a while but I don't know that I ever commented. It is a scary time for you but you will get through it. Make sure your husband takes lots of notes and don't be afraid to call if later you find you don't understand something. I remember my mind pretty much shut down. There are a lot of good treatments out now. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and will check back in.

Veronica said...

I'm glad you decided to write this all out and share with the interwebs. Will be thinking of you tomorrow, and eagerly awaiting more news--fingers crossed that it's the best news it can be!

Amy said...

Hey there. Love you and you know I'll be praying for all to go well tomorrow. I've got all my people on it!

By the way, some recent research indicates that Liberty of London purchases combined with strategic amounts of chips and queso is very effect in battling this particular type of cancer.

Amy said...

I meant "effective". I got distracted thinking about the queso.

Jen said...

Lots of love and hugs your way. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

Michele said...

I'll repeat what everyone else has said; It sounds like you are in good hands. I'll be keeping you, Matt and the kids in my thoughts all day. Hugs.

gretchen said...

You are amazing. The definition of grace and poise. Sending love and strength. All will be FINE. Yes, I was shouting that.

danajk said...

Thinking of you lots and lots! Keep us posted.

Marie said...

Love you, Sweetheart. I'm keeping up with you thru your folks and it does sound like you are in the best
of hands. This IS going to be okay.
Amy's got the southern hemisphere covered and I'm gonna work on this one. XXOO

Keely said...

I will be thinking of you. And imagining that avalanche of food, but mostly thinking of you.

*hugs*

etheljr said...

It was awfully good of you to let us know. Lots of good thoughts coming your way from Iowa. A bump in the road is no doubt exactly what you're dealing with here--wishing you all the best.

Dave said...

I bet this has been the longest week ever. We're thinking of and praying for you. We love you.

Maggie said...

Beck, I have the western part of the country on prayer alert for you. I KNOW this will work out. I will keep in the loop through your mom and dad. I love you and am praying.

mbaumbick said...

I'm thinking of you. Love you lots!

Beth said...

Thinking of you! I think you could share your mammogram stories with my husband, who could share his testicle-in-a-lead-clamshell-during-radiation-therapy stories with you. Everything will be totally fine. I'm sending you an avalanche of reassurance.

Meghan said...

Oh Becky, what yucky yucky news. It may not be the end times, but it doesn't mean this little life escapade doesn't royally suck. For all kinds of reasons. I shall be praying for you and Matt and the kids too. It sounds like things will be just fine, but still. Blech.

Cassie said...

We'll be up at the crack of doom tomorrow also, and will be thinking of you. XOXO

Stephanie said...

Becky, I hate that you are going through this. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow. Love to you all,
Stephanie

Ginny Marie said...

Oh, Becky, can I tell you I just hated reading this post? Cancer sucks, and I wish not one more woman would be diagnosed with cancer, but of course that is not the world we live in.

I know you've read my blog, and so you probably know I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 27. My "mass" was 1 cm in diameter in my left breast. I'm still here, almost 14 years later, with no signs of the cancer coming back. You will beat this disease!!

You can email me anytime about anything: lemondroppie@gmail.com

I will be praying for you--seriously, I will, I'm not just saying it! Take care~Ginny

Camp Papa said...

Ginny Marie, that's the comment I've been waiting for someone to make to this post. Thank you. The prayers of all of you are greatly appreciated by Becky's parents. God bless you all.

Patrick McBride said...

Love you, Beck. You got ALL my prayers with you and Jessica's too.

Mad Woman said...

First of all sweetie, I'd like to commend you for doing what so many of us do NOT do and that's getting the lump checked out.

Second? I'm sorry to hear that you are going through all this. It sounds like you have some amazing medical staff on your side as well as some great family & friends.

I'll be praying for you :)

puncturedbicycle said...

Well done for not letting it go for ages before going to the doctor. Super-scary stuff, but great to hear that it isn't scarier - small mercies etc..

Sending good wishes for it to all be over soon and for you to be on the other side of this unpleasantness, strong and well.

The Dental Maven said...

We ARE all friends. And we all pull together when someone needs support. And GIRL? You have ALL OUR SUPPORT. And thank goodness for the type of carcinoma it is. If I know SubMat? You won't miss a beat during this process. Keep us informed Girl. We've got your back.

K said...

Oh my!

This is -of course- the first time I've stumbled onto your blog. But I still just wanted to say good luck.

My step mother had breast cancer at a young age too. She's still doing wonderfully 14 years later.

Michele R said...

Becky, been thinking of you all morning, sending love and positive thoughts. We're all with you every step of the way!

duchessjane.com said...

Wow. I have no doubt that your doctor is right and this will literally just be a bump. I'll be thinking about you and sending all my positive vibes your way.

I'll also be thinking about lasagna. Mmmmmm.

Jenni said...

You guys have such a great attitude about all of this, and I love that.

Love to you and Matt and the kiddos.

Anxiously awaiting your next post...

Kate said...

I love you, Bec. I'm praying for peace and good news.

Amy said...

Thoughts and prayers with you today...

Sprite's Keeper said...

Here from Second Blooming and glad I am! Sending you as much virtual support as I can afford, luckily, I'm rich when it comes to virtual. :-)
Everyone is right. You have a top notch team who is as committed to fighting as you are.
With that beside you? You can defeat anything.

Sara said...

I was up just slightly before the crack of doom this morning (doing my usual 50th pee of the night) praying for you; I'm glad it's finally Tuesday for you! Much love!

Sjn said...

Look at these comments... 36 already. I tell you, the gals in the blog world are so very supportive. We are all here for you! This is a good forum for you to vent and talk it out. Because you need too. It's scary, cancer is, there's no way to avoid that. I'm so sorry you are going through this, but they know so much now about breast cancer, you WILL be okay. Read all you can and be informed. One thing I've learned is you have to be your own best advocate, and be knowledgeable on the treatments and current research. You're a smart cookie and you like to read, you can do it.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and Matt. Be strong together. And keep this in mind, a good place to cry is in the shower, you can't keep it all bottled up.
xoxox

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Yes, here from Gretchen's blog. And while I don't know you, as a nurse, everything sounds like you're in good hands. Sending some warm loving virtual support your way.
And, btw, love your writing and will definitely be back!!

City Mouse said...

You have done so much to cheer up my days, I love reading your blog. I wish there was something I could do, will be sending happy thoughts & prayers to you & your family. Then after reading all that, I thought..."They have Liberty of London at Target???"

Christine said...

Well, I feel like your friend too, and thanks for writing that. I'll be thinking about you and praying for you, and if you ever need them, I'll send you the directions for the cutest booby cupcakes ever. My sister-in-law requested I make boob cupcakes for a party she threw soon after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. By the way, she's doing great several years later. I know you will be too.

Kate said...

lots of healing, healthy love to you from California. I'm keeping all crossable things crossed and will look forward to hearing your updates.
Okay...one minute....errrr.....done. crossed in hopes of positive news. hugs all around to you.

Becky said...

Hey guys, it's me, back from my mega-appointment, the three-hour nap that came afterwards, and then the five phone conversations that came after that. I am wiped.

I don't know a super lot more than I did, but things are looking less simple. I will update y'all after I talk to the surgeon one more time, either tonight or in the morning. Right now I have lost the capacity to form sentences. That noise you heard was my brain shutting down due to overcapacity.

Y'all's good wishes and prayers and love means the world to me. xoxox-b

The Messy Mom said...

Becky, I am so glad you were aware enough to get it checked out. Everything is going to be fine. Just be sure to receive all the help from all the tons of people that love you so much!

Josephine said...

Hi there Becky. I've been checking in to your blog for a couple of months now, and thoroughly enjoy your witty commentary on life.

Just wanted to wish you all the best for this up-coming 'adventure' – may the force be with you and your family ;-)

Mental Momma said...

If we were neighbors I'd be rushing over with a bottle of wine right now. Hugs and kisses and supportive thoughts your way.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I hope things went well today! Hang in there!

I had a friend who had the type that is in the milk ducts and she didn't even need chemo. She's doing great.

Shelby said...

My prayers and loving thoughts are with you.

Bren said...

Thought about you all day and continue to do so. Thank heavens Matt's brain has lots of space for overflow when yours reaches max capacity.

Common Household Mom said...

I have been praying for you and your medical team all day. And will continue to pray.

Lisa Lilienthal said...

Becky, I never can find the right words when somebody has news like this, but one thing I do know is that optimism has always served me really well. I have you and your family in my thoughts and prayers and look forward to hearing that all is well.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Oh, Becky. Please be all better right away. Like immediately.

I am a big believer in the positive thinking thing, and if there was ever a positive thinker, it's you, my dear.

This is super scary, but it is also something you CAN survive. My Grandma had breast cancer a million years ago, and she had a mastectomy, and she lived happily ever after until she was a very old woman when she died in her sleep from being so old. So that is my wish for you. That you get exceptionally old, retaining your sassy outlook.

Much love to you and your family.

kathy said...

Becky, you know how we are feeling! We are praying mightily and will continue to do so. We love you dearly.

crazylovescompany said...

OMG I missed so much. Off to read your more recent posts. Thinking of you.

kitschinlogic said...

Hi Becky. I just found you and have read through your breast cancer posts. I was diagnosed with breast cancer back on January 26th and have been having the same kind of fun you have! (I also had a tumor on my breast and one positive lymph node, am Estrogen and Progesterone +, and HER2 -) I had my last chemo June 22nd (cytoxan and taxotere) and am just watching my hair come back.

Nice to meet you!