The big day….My double mastectomy…Friday, April 22, 2011

I’m not even sure how to begin this post.  This is one day that I really don’t want to relive. 

I had to be at the hospital by 6:30 a.m. for surgery at 11:00 a.m. My friend Kaylene picked up my Mom and I.  When I got there, I had to go to admissions, sign all the papers, get my ID bracelet and sit back down and wait for the nurse to call me back to pre-op.  Other than my Mom and Kaylene, my friend Barbara came and later my friend Pam and her husband Pastor Jim were there. 

The nurse called me back to pre-op and I changed into those lovely surgical gowns.  I put on the socks they gave me and then the nurse put on these things that massage the lower leg to keep the circulation going, to keep a clot from forming.  She asked me about medications I was taking and any allergies.  She also got the IV started.  Once I was all settled and she was done asking questions my Mom and friends were able to come back and be with me. 

I talked with my surgeon, Dr. Clark, talked with the anesthesiologist, who remembered me from a previous surgery, talked with the nurses who were going to be assisting and then talked with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Schnur.  Both surgeons talked to me about what they would be doing and how everything would go. 

I had to go to radiology by 8 a.m. so they could check my right lymph nodes to see if any of the cancer had spread.  They injected something, I believe radioactive isotopes into my lymph nodes, then moved me into another room where I was for about an hour….at least it seemed that long if not longer.  I had to massage my right breast to get the dye moving around to make sure all the lymph nodes in the breast got the dye in them.  After doing that, they took a lot of x-rays.  That was VERY uncomfortable.  I had to lay still on the table and the x-ray machine seemed like it was an inch from my face.  After the x-rays were taken they moved me back to the pre-op room I was in.

While waiting for 11:00 a.m. to come, I was kind of in a dream state.  No, they hadn’t given me any drugs yet, other than saline and an antibiotic.  My Mom and friends were in there talking to each other and me, taking turns sitting next to me, holding my hands.  The nurses and surgeons came in and out of the room.  I remember one nurse came in with a pink scrub hat on and she said she was wearing that just for me…I’m sure she says that to all mastectomy patients.  I don’t remember any of the conversations that were going on around me or what I said.  I remember laughing some but I was really in my own world.  I can’t really explain what I was thinking about.  I think I was in shock, really.  I remember talking to my brother and Dad (in my mind) asking them to watch over me while I was in surgery to make sure everything was OK.  The time seemed to drag on and on!  The nurses finally came to get me to wheel me into surgery.  I was able to hug everyone before they took me back.  I was fine and smiling until I hugged my Mom.  She started crying and I said “don’t start”, then I started crying when she hugged me.  When the nurse started wheeling me out of that room, I looked back over my shoulder and saw my friends Kaylene and Barbara so I waved and blew them a kiss, turned back around and started crying even harder.  I was still crying when I was wheeled into the operating room. 

They wheeled me right up to the operating table and I moved over and got situated.  The anesthesiologist gave me a shot of Versed, it puts you in a twilight kind of feeling.  They put the mask over my face and had me take some deep breaths.  The next thing I remember I was in the recovery room.  The nurse must have called my name about 3 times before I woke up.  I was in and out of it for quite a while.  I was in a little pain so they gave me some pain medication and some antinausea medications.  I’m not sure how long the surgery went or how long I was in recovery.  I think the surgery was about 2 1/2 hours and I think I was in recovery for about an hour and a half.  When they felt I was stable enough they moved me to my room.  I was on the Oncology floor.  What a scary thought.

I don’t remember a whole lot about my recovery or my stay at the hospital.  Those medications sure do make you forget a lot!  I remember a lot of my friends came to visit me during my stay and I had to have someone stay with my Mom while I was in the hospital.  I had to worry about my Mom and who was going to take care of her and be with her while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. 

I’m not sure when I got the news about the x-rays from the lymph nodes but it was good news.  No cancer had spread to any lymph nodes. 

I was wrapped up like a mummy around my chest during my recovery.  During the surgery, after my breast surgeon had removed both my breasts, the plastic surgeon had put in tissue expanders so I wouldn’t wake up flat chested.  I couldn’t really tell what it looked like because of the wrap they had around me.  I was finally able to see what I looked like the day I left to go home.  I was afraid to look.  It took me about 5-10 minutes to finally get the courage to look at my chest and see what they had done to me.  It wasn’t too bad.  I had my Mom look at it and said to her, “it doesn’t look to bad, does it?”  She said no, it looked really good.  I still think I was in shock about the whole thing. 

I was discharged on Monday, April 25th, 2011.  Four days after my breasts were cut off.  I was 38 years old and had just had a double mastectomy.  I had to recover from surgery and also figure out a way to take care of my Mom.  WHAT THE FUCK WAS I GOING TO DO?????????????????????????????????????

 

Options for reconstructive surgery

On April 6, 2011, I met with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Schnur, for the first time.  We were to discuss what my options were for reconstructive surgery.  According to my body size and shape, I had two options: a TRAM Flap or a Post-Mastectomy Expander/Implant.

“One of the first decisions a patient must make with her plastic surgeon is what type of breast reconstruction she will undergo.  Reconstruction is performed on either an immediate or delayed basis and generally falls into two categories, implant reconstruction or reconstruction using a patient’s own tissue, which are often referred to as flap procedures.  Factors to consider when choosing the right reconstructive option are type of mastectomy, cancer treatments and patient’s body type.”

The TRAM Flap option takes the donor site from the abdomen.  The most common method of tissue reconstruction is the pedicled transverse rectus abdominous myocutaneous (TRAM) flap.  In this approach, abdominal muscle, tissue, skin, and fat are used to create breast shape.  Since the patient’s own body tissue is used, the result is a very natural breast reconstruction.  Also, the patient will have the benefit of a flatter looking abdomen.  The scar on the abdomen is low and extends from hip to hip.  The TRAM flap can be used for reconstructing one or both breasts.  In a patient undergoing unilateral reconstruction, the TRAM flap can potentially offer better symmetry than using an implant.   Hospital Stay: 2-5 days,  Recovery Time: several weeks to several months.  Ideal candidates: desire reconstruction using your own tissue; do not want or are nota candidate for implant reconstruction; have enough lower abdominal wall tissue to create one or both breasts; have not had prior abdominal surgery.

Post-Mastectomy Expander/Implant:  During this staged approach, a tissue expander (temporary device) is placed first to create a soft pocket that will eventually contain the permanent silicone or saline implant.  At the time expander placement, some surgeons may use an acellular dermal matrix to assist with reconstruction.  Expansion will be started a few weeks post-op, after the patient has healed, as an in-office procedure.  Once expansion is complete, the expander will be exchanged for the permanent implant during an outpatient procedure.  Hospital Stay: 1-2 days, Recovery Time: several weeks.  Ideal candidates: have no available flap options; do not desire a flap operation; do not have compromised tissue at the mastectomy site; have no history of radiation to the breast or the chest wall; want bilateral reconstruction.

I was leaning towards the TRAM Flap option because it would use my own skin tissue and I would have the added bonus of a tummy tuck!  :)  When I found out I would lose my core muscle, that was the deal breaker for me.  I wouldn’t be able to do sit-ups and would have a hard time singing, which is my passion.  Oh well, I can always get a tummy tuck another time, right??!!!

So, I went with the Post-Mastectomy Expander/Implant.  I was to expect at least a 2 night hospital stay and one month for recovery.  I would have two drains on each side that would need to be drained twice a day.  A week after my surgery, I would have to go have the drains removed.  Two weeks after surgery I would start going once a week for 8-10 weeks for tissue expansion filling. 

A month following the completion of my chemotherapy treatments I will go back in for an out-patient surgery to have the permanent implants put in.  Three months after the permanent implants are put in I will go in for another out-patient surgery for nipple implants (if I choose to get nipples) and after that I will have an in-office procedure to have the areola tattooed on. 

WEBSITES:  AvonWalk.org; BreastCancer.org; BreastCare.org; BreastImplantSafety.org; BreastReconstruction.org; PlasticSurgery.org/Choice; Cancer.gov; Cancer.org; Komen.org; NCONN.org; StayInThePink.com; StopBreastCancer.org; WomensHealthResearch.org

Results from tests

On March 25, 2011, I met with my Oncologist and the breast surgeon and the radiation oncologist.  I met with Dr. Diab first, my oncologist.  He gave me the results from the PET Scan and the Breast MRI.  The PET scan came back negative, the cancer hadn’t spread throughout the body.  The breast MRI just showed the one tumor in the right breast.  At least that was the good news.  I would need chemo.  The kind of cancer I have is estrogen negative, progesterone negative and HER2 negative.  Dr. Diab explained to me that Invasive Ductal Carcinoma is an umbrella term.  I have Triple Negative Breast Cancer – a very aggressive cancer.  It would not respond to any adjunctive therapy (Tamoxifen or any other estrogen type pill).  My only choice would be chemo. I would need 6 treatments over 3 weeks which would take about 4-6 months to complete.  He said right then it looks like stage 1 but won’t know for sure until after I have surgery.  He told me that the cancer cells were dividing at a very fast rate…65%. 

I met with the Radiation Oncologist next.  He said I would do chemo first after the surgery. If the lymph nodes come back positive for cancer seeds I would need 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week.  If the lymph nodes come back negative I wouldn’t need radiation.  He explained the side effects of radiation that I could experience….skin could itch, skin could become pink, possibly burn, possible prickly heat.  Lotions and ointments would help with the side effects.

I saw the breast surgeon last.  She explained to me that if the genetic test come back positive, most people opt for the double mastectomy.  She said that if I chose to do a lumpectomy with sentinel node removal it would be done on an outpatient basis.  I have the double mastectomy it would be done on an inpatient basis.  If I have the double mastectomy I would have to meet with a plastic surgeon.  She would call me with the genetic test results.

Here comes some scientific terms and words that might bore some of you.  Some of you might find it fascinating and look up what it means :)  I believe I explained that I tested negative for the BRAC-1 and BRAC-2 breast cancer gene.  No one else in my family has had breast cancer.  I am the first one to have it.  The diagnosis from the core needle biopsy: Tumor Type: Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma.  Grade, Nottingham: Grade II (Tubules 3, Nuclei 2, Mitoses 1).  Lymphatic/Vascular Invasion: Not Identified.  In Situ Component:   Ductal Carcinoma In Situ Present, Solid Pattern, Intermediate Nuclear Grade, Comprising less than 10% of the total tumor volume.  Calcification:  Not Identified.  Lymph Node, Right Axilla Biopsy: Lymph Node, No tumor identified

Clinical history:  Highly suspicious palpable mass, lateral right breast, consistent with invasive cancer.  Mildly prominent right axillary lymph node, r/o mets.  Surgery performed:  Right breast and Axilla Biopsy.

Microscopic Description:  Sections show cores of breast tissue extensively involved by an infiltrating carcinoma composed of small groups and single neoplastic cells.  The groups in many areas infiltrate in a “Indian-file” pattern, but other groups hint at gland formation.  The cells have a small amount of cytoplasm and enlarged nuclei showing mild to moderate atypia.  Mitotic figures are difficult to appreciate.  An in situ component is focally identified showing expansion of ducts/lobules by similar appearing cells.  This component comprises less than 10% of the total tumor volume.  Lymphatic/vascular invasion is not identified.  Immunoperoxidase studies for E-cadherin and P-120 show staining consistent with a ductal carcinoma.  Calcifications are not identified.  Sections show core biopsies of a lymph node.  Metastatic carcinoma is not identified on routine H&E-stained sections.

PET Scan:  Indication:  Breast cancer, initial staging examination.  Findings:  There is focal metabolic activity corresponding to 1.2 x 1.6 cm nodule in the lateral right breast, representing the biopsied lesion.  No definite FDG avid axillary, internal mammary, or other mediastinal or hilar adenopathy is seen.  Mild stranding is seen in the right axilla related to recent intervention.  Impression:  Focal fluorodeoxyglucose uptake corresponding to nodule in the lateral right breast, representing the known tumor.  No distant fluorodeoxyglucose avid metastatic disease.

Bilateral Breast MRI Examination with and without contrast.  Indication: 38-year-old woman with recent diagnosis of right breast invasive ductal carcinoma, grade II, with associated intermediate grade DCIS.  Lymph node biopsy at that time was negative for malignancy.  MRI is performed for extent of disease.   Comparison:  Mammograms of 4/6/05, 4/10/07, 3/15/11, 3/16/11.  Ultrasounds of 4/6/05, 4/10/07,  3/15/11, 3/16/11.   Findings:  Background fibroglandular enhancement is mild.  Right Breast:  There is a malignant enhancing mass with associated biopsy clip artifact at its lateral margin at the 9 o’clock N5-6 position- measuring 1.6 x 2.2 x 2.4 cm.  The mass is located 1.3 cm from the chest wall; however there is no abnormal pectoralis muscle enhancement to suggest chest wall invasion.  No right axillary lymphadenopathy is appreciated.  Left Breast:  There is a non-mass-like area of enhancement with minimal associated persistent enhancement at the 5 o’clock N5 position, measuring 1.1 x 1.6 x 1.8 cm.  There are two additional areas of non-masslike enhancement with associated persistent enhancement kinetics in the superior left breast – one at the 11:30 N4 position measuring 1 x 1.4 x 1.6 cm and the other at the 12:30 N5 position measuring 0.9 x 1 x 1 cm.  Correlation with recent mammograms reveal these enhancing areas to be located within areas of dense fibroglandular tissue and may represent parenchymal response to hormonal stimuli in this young patient.  No axillary lymphadenopathy is seen. 

Impression:  Unifocal right breast carcinoma, measuring 1.6 x 2.2 x 2.4 cm (1.3 x 1.9 x 2.4 cm on ultrasound of 3/15/11).  The mass is 1.3 cm anterior to the chest wall and there is no MR evidence of chest wall involvement.   Three areas of non-mass-like enhancement in the left breast at the 3 o’clock N5, 11:30 N4, and 12:30 N5 positions.  These areas may represent enhancing fibroglandular tissue in this young patient and they do correspond to areas of fairly dense breast parnchyma when reference is made to recent diagnostic mammogram.  Conclusion:  Known Biopsy-Proven Malignancy – Bi-Rads 6.  Recommendations:  Left breast ultrasound correlation.

I decided to go ahead with the double mastectomy even though I tested negative for the BRAC-1 and BRAC-2 gene.  The reason I made that decision was because of the aggressiveness of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer and I knew I would worry it would come back in my left breast.  Dr. Clark, my breast surgeon said that was a good decision to make. 

My next step was to meet with the plastic surgeon to go over my options for reconstructive surgery………

The next steps: Testing: PET Scan and Breast MRI

On March 23, 2011, I was scheduled for a PET Scan and a Breast MRI Scan.  I was going to go by myself as I hate to ask for help with anything.  I even said no when my Mom said she’d go with me.  My friend Barbara said I shouldn’t go alone for tests like that.  Sometimes you have to be forceful with me with things like this :) 

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I am horribly claustrophobic and was dreading both the PET Scan and Breast MRI.  The oncologist prescribed Valium for me to help me relax during the tests.  The Valium tablets I got were 5 mg each. For the PET Scan, I took 2 pills.  They never had any effect on me.  Since I suffer from severe panic disorder and agoraphobia, I take anti-anxiety meds every day so my body is used to those meds.  I think I would have been better off just taking my normal anti-anxiety meds for the tests.

I had the PET Scan first at the Medical Center of Aurora South.  I had to drink this chalky like substance first and let it go through my system.  I was put into a small room, by myself, with the lights shut off and I had to be quiet.  I wasn’t even allowed to read a book or talk on the phone.  I had to sit there for almost an hour like that.  Then the technician came into the room and found a vein and injected me with radioactive iodine.  I had to sit quietly for another half an hour or so.  I just closed my eyes and tried to meditate, calm myself down because I could picture the tube I was going to be in for the PET Scan.  The worst thing about having to be quiet was that I could hear everything!!!!  The walls in those rooms are paper-thin.  They had brought a family into the room next to mine to give them bad news about a family member and all I could hear were the cries, sobbing and screaming of those who were going to lose someone they love.  One of them was so upset I could hear her vomit.  So much for trying to calm myself down and get myself into a “safe” place.  It seemed to take forever for the technician to come get me but when she did I almost jumped out of my chair.  She scared the shit out of me.

She took me into this huge room that was FREEZING and had me lay down on the long board that looked like it had about 6 huge donuts around it.  She put a blanket on me and told me to try to relax (yeah right!!!!).  I had to lie flat with my arms above my head.  I asked her how long the scan was going to take.  She said about 30-45 minutes!  I almost had a panic attack right there and then!  She said she would be in the room behind the plastic partition and would be able to talk to me.  I could talk to her as well.  She asked me if I was ready.  I laughed and said no.  I took some deep breaths and said “ok, let’s do this”. 

The minute the scanner started to make noise and the bed I was on moved backwards, my heart started to pound.  I closed my eyes and kept them closed the whole time.  There was no way I was going to open my eyes and look up and see the machine right above my head!  She would tell me to hold my breath, to breathe again, how many minutes were left, etc, etc, etc.  All this time, I was doing my best imagining myself on a beach, surrounded by gorgeous palm trees, blue skies, hearing the waves crashing on the surf, feeling the sand between my toes.  Finally, the test was done!  To me, it seemed to last about 2 hours!  I asked the technician when I would get the results of the scan.  She said it would probably be a few days.

I went back to the room where my stuff was, got dressed, shaking the whole time and went back out to the waiting room to get my friend Barbara.  She asked if I was alright.  I showed her my shaking hands and said not really.  From there, we had to go down the street a little ways to another hospital, The Medical Center of Aurora North for the Breast MRI.  It took about 10 minutes to get there.  I was still shaking by the time we got there!

I was more scared to have the breast MRI because of the claustrophobia and it’s a smaller space.  When we got there, we sat in the waiting room for about 5-10 minutes for me to fill out some paperwork and give myself some time to gather my wits about me.  I took one and a half more Valium.  Don’t you think I would have been knocked on my ass by then?  I went and got changed into the gown and the technician took me into the MRI room.  She explained everything to me.  She was very sweet and understanding of my claustrophobia.  She taped a little seed to my right breast where the tumor was, put in the IV for the contrast that would be used later and told me how to get on the table.  This table was hysterical looking!  I had to lay on my stomach with my breasts hanging down through two holes!  I called it the milking machine!  Hey, I had to make some humor out of the situation or else I was going to cry! 

I layed down on the table.  My feet were sticking out at one end and my head was sticking out at the other.  I could look up and see where the technician was going to be.  She went in her room and talked to me to see if I would be able to hear her.  I had earplugs in my ear because of the banging the machine was going to make.  I could hear her.  She came back into where I was and took my hand and said she would be explaining everything, step by step as it was happening.  She said some images would take a few seconds while the longest would take about 7 minutes.  The whole process was going to take about 40 minutes.  I was afraid to let go of her hand.  Again, I took some deep breaths, she asked if I was ready, I said yes and she left the room and closed the door.  Hearing that door close is something that I just can’t describe. 

She got on the microphone and I could hear her.  She said we would be starting in a few minutes.  I had to stay as still as possible and again, there would be times when I would have to hold my breath.  Let me tell you one thing, those earplugs they give you do not drown out the loud banging of the MRI machine ONE FUCKING BIT!  When I couldn’t calm myself down by going to my “safe” place…the beach, I would try to make a song out of the racket that the MRI machine was making.  My heart was pounding again but I made it through the MRI.  I remember at one point after the longest image was taken, I called out and said, “that was the longest 7 minutes of my life”. 

The technician came back in, helped me get off the table and led me back to the changing room.  By the time everything was over, I was extremely drained.  What I didn’t know but found out later from Barbara, was that the technician that was doing the MRI on me also suffers from claustrophobia so she understood everything I was going through during that whole test! 

Barbara and I went out to lunch after everything was done.  At lunch, I had gotten a call from the MRI technician but didn’t hear my phone or feel it vibrate.  When I got home, my Mom said that the technician had called and that I needed to call her back immediately.  I thought to myself….OH SHIT!!!!  Now what???  When I got home, it was almost 4:00pm.  I called the technician, had to leave her a message and waited for her call.  She called me back about 30 minutes later and said that the doctor had taken a look at my MRI and said that they found 3 areas on my LEFT breast that needed to be looked at.  I was in shock…didn’t know what to think or what to say.  They wanted me to come in the next day for an ultrasound of the left breast to have a look to see what was going on.    I made an appointment for the first thing the following day.

On March 24th, my Mom went with me to this ultrasound.  I had a different doctor perform this ultrasound and thankfully it was nothing but fibrograndular tissue (dense breast tissue).  I have to admit, I didn’t get much sleep the night before the ultrasound….what if I had cancer in my left breast as well?????

Emotions

Let me tell you.  When you hear the words “you have breast cancer”, a bunch of different emotions come up.  My first reaction was I’m only going to have a lumpectomy and no chemo or radiation.  When I was a child I would always say that if I ever got cancer, I was not going to get chemo.  It made people so sick and it’s putting toxic poison into the body.  I was afraid of chemo.  I had seen it ravage people that I knew and almost kill them.  I was very adamant about not wanting chemo.  Some people respected my decision while others, not so much.

Even though I knew in my gut that I had breast cancer before I got the actual diagnosis, I was kind of shocked to actually hear it come out of my GYN’s mouth.  I am pretty good at hiding my feelings and I pushed all those feelings down deep inside me.  I was more concerned for my Mom and how she was going to handle it, having a terminal illness herself.  After I got off the phone with my GYN and getting the diagnosis, I went over to my Mom and hugged her and comforted her. I said to myself, “here we go again.”  You see, my family has been hit again and again and again.  My brother (my only sibling) died at the age of 26 from complications of AIDS in 1990.  My dad died in 2001 from a pulmonary embolism.  I was diagnosed with severe panic disorder and agoraphobia in 2005.  My Mom was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in November of 2009.  My Aunts & Uncles live in other states so there is no family near by to help.  I am her main caregiver.  Then I get diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2011.  I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  How much can one family take???????

Getting the call

On Friday, March 18, 2011, my GYN called me at 7:15 a.m. to give me the results from the biopsy.  I knew the minute I felt the lump and then after the mammogram/ultrasound that something was wrong.  I just had that gut feeling.  He gave me the diagnosis.  I have breast cancer.  I have grade 2 Invasive (the cancer has grown outside the milk duct) Ductal Carcinoma.  The lymph node biopsy came back negative. 

He felt so bad for having to tell me such bad news with everything else that I am having to deal with.  He wanted to get the ball rolling right away.  He was going to have his office manager call me when his office opened to see if I could get in to see the oncologist and the surgeon that day.  At about 9:30 a.m., Dr. Saunders (my GYN) office manager called to see if I could get in to see Dr. Diab (the oncologist) at 10:00 a.m.  I said I could try.  My hair was soaking wet because I had just gotten out of the shower.  She said to come to my appointment with my hair wet and to get there as soon as possible.  They were going to try to get me in to see the surgeon, Dr. Sallie Clark, that day but was unable to. 

I got in to see Dr. Diab and was about 5-10 minutes late.  I got right in and met with a genetic counselor who asked about any family history of cancer.  She asked something about my thyroid – I guess there could be a connection between thyroid and breast cancer.  They took a blood test to check for the breast cancer gene.  I would get the results by the end of that week.  The blood test would also look for any sort of gene predisposition to any other sort of cancers.   Dr. Diab talked to me about what the next steps would be.  I would be scheduled for a PET Scan and Breast MRI and also schedule an appointment to see the surgeon.

Finding the lump in my right breast

On Thursday March 10, 2011 I found a lump in my right breast.  It was pretty big so it wasn’t hard to miss.  I wasn’t doing a self breast exam.  I don’t really even remember how I found it.  I either accidentally happened to bump my breast and felt it or I felt it in the shower.  How I found it doesn’t really matter….what does matter is that I found it.  I’ve had lumps before so I didn’t really think anything of it.  They usually go away in a day or two.  This one didn’t go away.  I waited four days to call my GYN.  I believe I knew the minute I felt this lump, I knew in my gut it was breast cancer.  It was just a feeling I had.

On Monday March 14, 2011 I called my GYN and was able to get in that afternoon.  I marked the lump with a penso I would be sure he’d be able to find it.  Usually when I go in with a lump, I can’t find it to show the doctor where it is.  He had no trouble finding it.  He said, “Yep, there is definately something there.”  We set up a mammogram and ultrasound for the next morning.

Tuesday March 15, 2011 I went for the mammogram and ultrasound and marked it with a pen again just in case they couldn’t find it.  Every other time I’ve gone in for a mammogram/ultrasound, the lump is gone.  Not this time.  The technician did the mammogram and ultrasound and when she was done, she rubbed my arm in a comforting manner and said she was going to have the doctor come in and discuss what the next step would be.  I said to myself “Oh shit!”  Something wasn’t right.

The doctor came in and said that there was something definately there and it wasn’t a cyst.  She said that she recommended that I have a breast biopsy and a biopsy of my lymph node.  She said I needed to prepare myself that it could be cancer.  She said that she hated to give me bad news.  We scheduled the biopsy for the following day, Wednesday. 

On Wednesday March 16, 2011 I was to be there at 8 a.m. with the procedure being at 8:30 a.m. Right when we were getting ready to leave, the nurse called and said, “don’t come yet. Our electricity is out.  She would call me when it came back on.”  I said to her I hope you can still get me in today.  She said they would get me in.  So, I sat back down and watched some TV.  I started to fall asleep.  The nurse called me back right before 9 a.m. and said they were ready and had the electricity back, was I ready to come in.  I said I’d be there as soon as I could.  We got there about 9:15 a.m. or so.  I don’t remember what time they took me back but my Mom said I was in there for about 2 hours.

I signed all the appropriate papers, changed into the robe after taking my bra and shirt off.  They got me all prepped.  Debbie marked the spots after using the ultrasound then the doctor, Dr. Wolverton came in and explained what she was going to do.  They turned the bed so I could watch what they were doing on the monitor.  She numbed me up real good.  I didn’t even feel the needle go in for her to numb me up.  She said the instruments she used sounded like a staple gun and she was right!  She took 4 biopsies of the mass in the breast and 4 biopsies from the lymph node.  She asked me if I had any questions for her.  I said since you’ve been doing this for 25 years, what do you think it is, what does your gut tell you?  She said she was 50% sure it was cancer.  We would have to wait for the pathology report to see what stage it is.  She said I would need to have surgery to have the lump removed.  Depending on what kind of cancer it was, I might have to have my ovaries removed.  They said I would have the results Friday afternoon.

On Thursday March 17, 2011 I didn’t do much of anything.  My arm and breast were sore from the biopsy.  I went to my therapy session that night.  When I got there, I called my Mom to let her know I had made it to therapy.  She told me that Dr. Saunders, my GYN, had called and wanted to talk to me – he wanted to know how late I’d be home.  When she said that, I knew right then and there that the news was not going to be good.

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