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Monday, July 6, 2009

Call me Lady Luck (the diagnosis- part 1)

The first thing everyone wants to know is how I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Every time I tell this story I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am... seriously.

It was April of 2007 and I went to the obgyn for something unrelated to any breast issue. They did the standard breast exam, told me I was fine and sent me on my way. I was sure they were wrong about the issue I had gone in for, so I stopped at the community health center by my parents house.

I remember the doctor going over the same spot on my left breast several times. "Do you feel this here? It might not be anything but I'd like to make an appointment for you to have a mammogram."

OK, I thought. How weird, I'm only 27, I've never had a mammo before. What is she feeling? I don't feel anything. I have no idea how long its been there because I rarely do a self-exam and even if I did I couldn't feel what she is trying to point out.

I went home and told my mom and she had that shocked Oh-my-God look. I was surprised by this because I wouldn't consider her overly worrisome. Perhaps it was the maternal instinct kicking in.

At that point I made another appointment to go back to my obgyn. I repeated what the doctor at the clinic suggested. Now this is a very highly recommended doctor I had. She spent a great deal of time with me and seemed very thorough. I trusted her. So here I was back on the table. She laughed as she went over the left breast. "Please tell me they didn't find something in this breast. You are young, you have very dense breasts and there is nothing out of the ordinary here. Don't waste your time or money going to that mammo."

I felt triumphant. I hadn't been losing any sleep over it but I thought my mom would be glad to hear the news. But she didn't seem all that relieved. "I don't know Dawn, you already have the mammo appointment, you might as well just go."

Sigh. All these appointments are such a nuissance. Little did I know I would spend the better part of 2 years back and forth between them.

In the waiting room I watched woman after woman leave the office after being told they would be contacted with results. But after my mammo they asked me to sit back down...and not to change.

I thought, Ugh, I have somewhere to be and this office is freezing. Why do they keep these offices so freezing? Please relax while you place your freezing breast on our freezing machine and hold your breath until you hear the beep. How can anyone relax in this climate?

The changing room in places like this are always interesting. Bunched up in below zero temperatures are women trying to appear relaxed as they sit topless, clutching the paper-thin wrap and flipping thru copies of Better Homes and Gardens from 3 years ago. In defense of this office they had a binder full of comics about mammograms and the general unpleasantness involved. It was very entertaining! It is where I first witnessed the manogram.

A very nice lady told me they would like to do an ultra sound. To be honest, this didn't worry me because I was young and had dense breasts and I could totally understand if they couldn't see anything in my little size A breasts. The alarm did start sounding when she left to get a doctor and they silently looked at the screen. They zoomed in, they took digital measurements and they left to go talk to someone else.

Oh geez, I hope I don't have to do anything involving needles. I can't believe they warm the ultrasound gel here. Thats so cool! I wonder what those buttons do. Can I put my arm down now? How long will I be laying here?

The doctor came in to tell me that they still weren't sure what it was. They wanted to do a Ultrasound guided Core Needle Biopsy. There it was... the needle word. Core NEEDLE biopsy.

I didn't know what it was but I was sure I wouldn't like it.

(to be continued)
Part Two: The Bobobsy


  1. Wow, Dawn... I'm (for lack of better phrasing) looking forward to hearing the rest of your story. You're still with us, so I'm guessing you're doing well? Hopefully? Yes? *hugs*

  2. I hate needles, having a child just confirmed how much I hate needles, I don't care what anyone says, needles hurt - does not matter how many you have, they still hurt......needles are horrible.

  3. I am doing very well, living cancer free, thank you!

    I agree Aussie. Don't even get me started on how scary epidurals sound. They go into your spine. Your spine! Of course, more terrifying child birth without the epidural :)

  4. I'm hooked on your story. As a nurse, I have taken care of lots of cancer patients. There is a lot of good info out there, as I am sure you know! It refined you didn't it? The person you are going into the diagnosis, is a totally different person coming out to the healed body! I witnessed that bit of coolness over & over. People were totally refined!

  5. I can't wait to read the rest of the story!

  6. Reading your posts, your positive outlook and humor shines through. Thank you for sharing your story and look forward to reading more.

  7. Thanks for the support!

    I definitely changed and can safely say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I can't explain that all here in my comment but hopefully you'll see it in my posts over time.

  8. I have had three very close friends diagnosed with breast cancer. I know how serious this can be. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. So glad you didn't listen to your fancy doctor. Just because you don't fit the profile and you have dense breasts is no reason to warn someone away from a mammo. Good for you for going thru with the appt.
    I'll watch for the rest of the story. ;)

  10. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am hooked on your story now. I hope all is well with you. I am walking for you and yours! :)

  11. I also can't wait to read the rest. With no history of cancer in our family, I was quite shocked to watch my mom and grandma both get diagnosed with it in the last 8 years. They are both fine now (thank God!). I am scared to death of "when my time will come" with cancer and reading your story (WOW!) to think it can come so young....

  12. Basebell, have you considered doing the genetic testing or entering a high risk program? You may not even carry the genetic marker for BC. Many cancer care centers have programs for women who have a history of breast cancer in their family. It includes more aggressive screening that the normal mammo. Feel free to email me if you want more info! :)

    Oh and check this out

  13. Sounds a lot like my Mammo! I got the ultra sound and they sent me on my way though after spending about a half an hour on my left breast. They gave me a little piece of paper that said you do not have cancer. I was diagnosed three months later. It had moved into my centinal node by then.

  14. That cartoon is prefect. When oh when will the ultrasound technology become commonplace?


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