A personal breast cancer account: Diagnosis
By Pure Matters
Do we want to know? No!!! Okay, yes, we do want to know. As women, we want to learn, understand, and gather every detail about our diagnosis with breast cancer. As women, whether we are mothers, wives or friends, we usually feel and believe that we know and understand our world and our bodies. Yet, when something like this comes out of nowhere, all of a sudden our safe, secure world comes crashing down in the blink of an eye. One question is the same for all women regardless of age, race, religion: “Why Me?”
My story began with a delayed diagnosis. Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy would be the caveat for my early detection or so I thought….
Awaiting the pathology results was rough. I wanted to be strong for my two young daughters. Therefore, I continued my daily routine of car pools, school, and after-school activities by living in the present because I felt that each day was truly a gift. My doctor told me he’d want to meet with me in his office regardless of the results. The long awaited call finally came. I could tell by the doctor’s tone of voice that the pathology report was positive for malignancy. I went to meet with the doctor that afternoon. As it turns out, I had two types of cancer: Stage 1- Ductal Carcinoma which were the calcifications that were seen on my one and only mammogram and Stage 2- in situ carcinoma which was the tumor that I had felt. UGH!
I sat there crying, but not in disbelief of my pathology results. I’d suspected this outcome. I was crying because all I could think about were my daughters. What this would mean for their future healthcare. I was now the third generation affected by this dreadful disease. I drove home replaying the news in my head. I began to freak out about my carpool schedules and how I would be able to help my mom with her rounds of chemotherapy. The drive home was a blur.
My decision was clear. I decided to have a double mastectomy for simply symmetry. And of course, to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer in the other breast! The next step was to meet with my general surgeon to discuss my surgery options. My surgeon was on board with my decision due to my family history. And, I would also have to have something called expanders. They are placed inside the chest cavity during the double mastectomy.
Now that the type of surgery type was decided, can you say APPOINTMENTS? Appointments needed to be scheduled with different specialties from plastic surgeons to general surgeons, oncologists to radioncologists, internists to dermatologists. My life as a stay-at-home mom ended. I now had a full-time job as a breast cancer patient. The responsibilities included scheduling and coordinating doctor appointments and surgeries. My surgery was scheduled within a week and a half of my biopsy.
Lying in my hospital bed after surgery, I was in excruciating pain. I have a high pain threshold and wasn’t expecting to feel like I couldn’t breathe -- especially considering the morphine drip was dripping at a racecar pace. As it turns out, I needed an IV of valium to relax the muscles. Once I had the valium, the excruciating pain diminished and became more manageable. Part of the surgery/treatment plan was to have expanders placed in my chest. These expanders, over the course of the next eight months, would incrementally be filled.
The news just kept getting worse! I had 0-2 markers in my lymph nodes which meant chemotherapy. Therefore, chemotherapy would be the beginning of my treatment.
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