Sunday, October 4, 2009

How I got here

I gave birth to our youngest daughter (YG) and breastfed her as I did our other three children. About 8-10 months in I had a duct that just didn't seem to empty all the way, ever. But everything else seemed fine, so I ignored it. When I weaned her in June, the right breast dried right up, and the left did too, except one duct that just still felt full, but it didn't drip. And it was a little tender. I just figured it was taking its own sweet time to dry up, so no worries.

Now, usually, YG falls asleep snuggled into my right arm as I rock her to sleep. One night in August she decided to fall asleep on my left side. When I laid her down, I noticed I had a few drips and went in the bathroom to see if the last of my milk was finally expressing. Nope. It was a bloody discharge. I went in to show my husband, to ask what he thought I should do. He freaked out a little, asking me if I had ever heard of breast cancer. I smiled, and reassured him it was probably just an infection, just a no-fever mastitis, and promised I would go into the doctor the next day.

I did get into the doctor the next day, not my regular doctor, Dr. GG, but one of the 3rd year residents who is in the same clinic. The resident had another doctor come in to confirm it was mastitis, gave me a prescription for antibiotics, and had me schedule a follow up appointment for two weeks later. When I went in, it had not changed, so we figured it was a stubborn infection and he gave me another round of antibiotics, a different kind. I scheduled another appointment in a week because he said to come back if it was still there then, and I didn’t want to have his schedule be too full. It was still there, so he scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound. The next day my daughter had a checkup scheduled with Dr. GG. When she was done I explained my situation and asked if he had time to check it out as well and see if he would offer a different course of action. He concurred that I should get in for a mammogram, and made arrangements to get me in sooner.

The day of my mammogram started out completely normal. Hubby went to work, kids went to school. My mom came up to watch the kids so I could go get my appointment. I have never had a mammogram, and those little cape things are, well, interesting. I told the radiologist tech who did my mammogram that they should put a superman symbol or batman logo on the back. At least for the under 40 set. ;) Anyways, she was very nice, and the mammogram itself was not as bad as I expected. I have never been squeezed at so many different angles before. And it was interesting to look at the scans while she was setting up the machine for the next scan.

So when that was done I went back to the waiting room, where there was another lady in a cape waiting with her adult daughter. The rad tech came back into the room in a few minutes to ask if anyone had come with me today to go into the ultrasound with me. I laughingly explained that my mom had come to watch my kids so I could come without an entourage. I should have had a hint then.

When I got into the ultrasound room, the ultrasound tech did her job and went and got the Radiologist doctor. This doctor sat down and told me I probably had breast cancer, and that we would have to do an MRI to check the other breast for microscopic cancer areas, and a biopsy to confirm and find out what type. She was fairly nice about it, but straightforward, which I prefer. The first thought to run through my head was “Well, I will actually get new boobs!” This has been a wish of mine for years.

I asked her if it wasn’t cancer, what it could be. She said it really wasn’t likely it was anything else.

When we finished I sat down with a scheduler and got the MRI and biopsy scheduled (of course, Dr. GG stepped in and go them rescheduled for as quickly as possible so we could have the results in time for the next week’s cancer clinic on Wednesday). Then I changed and walked out to my car. Hubby called while I was on the way to my car to ask how it went. I hated telling him on the phone, and briefly thought about lying to him so he wouldn’t have this stress for a couple of days. But I told him, and he took it quite well. Then I had to call my mom to tell her I was coming home. She took it harder than either of us had. But hubby and I are more reserved, and I definitely didn’t mind that she was upset.

So the MRI was on Friday, and it was not comfortable. I had to lay face down, and the cushion for my head started out feeling great, but after 15 minutes in, it was killing me. But I was very good, and made it until we were all through to ask if I could move.

Then a weekend of stewing. I was sure I was going to die. I mean, it was a good size lump, what were my odds going to be? At first it didn’t seem so bad. I am secure in the fact that I will see my loved ones that have already passed away will be there to greet me when I die. But then I thought of how much of my kids’ lives I would miss. I mean, YG is not even a full year and a half old! That made me mad. And sad. But I was good at shoving that to the side and ignoring it most of the time. I did have a hard time falling asleep. Our kitchen has never been so consistently clean!

Monday was the biopsy. I was nervous about the needles and stuff. But they had me change, then brought hubby in to watch a video about the procedure with me. There was one line in the video when the Radiologist doctor in the video was talking about the possible risks and that most blood vessels are “squishy,” so they are easily healed with pressure. I wondered if that was the technical term.

Then the doctor and nurses came in to ask if we had any questions. I asked if I was going to be numbed. He assured me that I would be, and we pointed out that was the only flaw in the video.

Then hubby went back out to the waiting room, and I went back into the ultrasound room, where they used the ultrasound to locate the affected areas, and drew with markers where they would need to be going. It tickled when they marked my lymph node.

Then more waiting. Dr. GG called early Tuesday evening to tell us that it was cancer. Specifically Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Stage 3.

And that was how I got here.


  1. I'm proud to be your first follower. I really wish I were a fan of your blog about "interesting species of native plants" or something, but that's not the topic at hand. Things like "Invasive Ductal Carcinoma" are now making up a bigger chunk of my not-really-work-related activities at work. I guess at least if I get caught googling about cancer, they probably won't give me the same lashing I get for watching youtube videos of a baby panda sneezing.

  2. You'll have to send me a link for the baby panda sneezing, that sounds adorable!
    And thanks for being my first follower too! I'll probably get more when I post my link on my facebook page, but getting ready to "tell" that many people is daunting. ;)
    Wish me luck on my porta cath tomorrow!

  3. Pandalicious

  4. Wow. So what is the plan now? Chemo? Surgery? Is there anything we can do to help?

  5. Anne!! I just added your blog to my "bookmarks" so I can be better at keeping up!!! I HATE it when Facebook doesn't post everyone's posts so I can know what is going on... Anyhow- I"m thinking of you!!!