Let me tell you about when I found the lump. That was in May of 2016. I didn’t find it on a regular breast exam. I was standing up, stretching and I ran my hands down my the front of my shoulders and down my breast….WTF IS THAT??? My heart jumped and I was immediately nervous and a little freaked out. I felt it clear as day. Right breast, 12 0’clock position. I felt it with my right hand. When I tried to feel it with the opposite hand like one does for a Self Breast Exam, I couldn’t really feel it. So I stood there with my right hand palpating it. Hmmm…it moves. That’s usually a sign that’s its a cyst. I had very cystic breasts. So my nerves settled a bit. I thought to myself, I’ll check it during the month to see if it changes with my cycle. Another sign of a cyst. As life does, it got in the way. I forgot about it for a bit and then when I did remember to check it again, it was acting very much like a cyst. I thought to myself, well its time for a mammogram anyway, so I might as well schedule one. That got rescheduled a few times due to work. When I finally went in it was the end of July of 2016. Mammogram and Ultrasound, again because my breasts were so cystic. When the ultrasound tech asked me if I had any areas of concern, I pointed out the mass. As she was imaging it, I had a bad feeling come over me. I thought to myself, stop overreacting its just a cyst. The ultrasound tech left and I was left alone to wait for the physician to come in. I knew I was in deep shit when I waited more than 20 minutes. The physician came in and immediately addressed the mass. She said that while it had some cyst qualities it also had some indicators that warranted a biopsy.
Core biopsy anyone? Talk about something that makes you nervous. Both the getting it done and the waiting for results. Biopsy was scheduled for the next week. Longest week ever? Almost. When I was finally gowned up for the biopsy, laying there getting numbed, the tech took a still shot of the mass. It was the first opportunity I got to see it clear as day. I sat straight up, got closer to it, and said out loud “well fuck, that doesn’t look good!”
Naturally when I left, my little clinical mind went googling. When I found a photo of a mass that was nearly identical to mine, it naturally stated that it was cancer. Again, somewhere inside of me I knew I was going to hear that it was cancer. I even stated out loud that its probably cancer, something like DCIS (cancer in the ducts) a fairly common breast cancer. Boy was I wrong. So very wrong. I mean, I was right about having cancer- I was wrong about the type. Nope, no “common” cancer for me. Extremely rare affecting 0.5% of the population, notoriously difficult to treat with a recurrence rate that usually hits between 18-36 months later. The prognosis isn’t pretty either. So hello there Metaplastic Breast Cancer that is also Triple Negative. During treatment every little twinge makes you nervous. I know that after treatment, my cancer survivor sisters also talk about how things going on in the body rattle them. Getting scans to see if you are cancer free or not during the survivorship stage brings on what is so lovingly called “scanxiety”.
So while all of us cancer warriors are brave in our fight, brave doesn’t mean fearless. We have our fears, but we push on day by day. Because this is the only life you get and cancer drives that home for you as whether you like it or not you contemplate your own death.
Now that’s another blog for another day.
As always- #FuckCancer