My Breast Cancer Journey – Part 1

My Breast Cancer Journey – Part 1

I Was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Yep, breast cancer – scary ass stuff and I decided that I wanted to share that journey with you. The main reason is to stress to you the importance of getting mammograms!!!!

If you have followed my blog and podcast for a while you know that I have not put up anything new for almost a year. There were several reasons for that:

  1. It became something that he who shall not be named started using against me. Using it as a dig, a way to try and insult me. As a way to try and manipulate me. I realize now that I allowed him to make me stop doing something I like to do. I won’t be doing that again.
  2. Life was – complicated to put it nicely. My beautiful daughter had a lot of emotional things happen in her life. So helping her pushed everything else to the back of the line.
  3. My business started really getting busy and that meant less time for the blog.
  4. And then in November of 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I have been slowly putting out some more generic content, nothing really personal about me. So I decided that it was time for me to write about it.

You should be getting regular mammograms now.

My doctor told me during my annual physical that I should be getting regular mammograms now that I am in my 40s. UGH!!!  So with a little bit of dread I scheduled myself for my first ever mammogram. I was definitely not looking forward to it. I have heard that it is painful or at least really uncomfortable.

And I am not what you would call ‘well endowed’, so there isn’t a lot to really work with in that area. BUT I went and it WAS uncomfortable but not nearly as bad as I had imagined. I left the appointment and really didn’t think any more about it – I certainly wasn’t thinking about cancer.

Several days later I got the call from the doctor saying that they would like for me to come back in. That there was an area in my right breast that they wanted to take a closer look at. They told me not to freak out that it was pretty common.

I freaked out anyway.

I couldn’t help it. I posted on Facebook about it and my friends and family all told me it wasn’t anything to worry about. Dense breast tissue. Spots on the images. There were a number of things they told me it could be. It calmed me down a little bit but I will admit I was still a little worried.

I went to the next mammogram, which was MUCH more involved than the last. My poor boob was squished every which way and then some. They told me that they would be in touch in a few days to let me know the results. *At this point I do want to say that the woman who was with me for both mammograms was AWESOME! She was like that amazing aunt that you have who is fun and comforting… she put me at ease at a very scary time.

About 5 days later I got another call from the doctor’s office – they found some calcifications in my right breast. These little dots that showed up and can be possible indicators for cancer cells. So they told me that they wanted me to come in for a biopsy.

I have to have a biopsy??

OK – now I am definitely starting to freak out again. A BIOPSY!?!? I really don’t like the sound of that but I get it scheduled. Now, the biopsy was definitely not what I was expecting. It is a surgical procedure so it is in an operating room of a sort. You have to lay on a table with a hole in it for your breast to go through. It would have been comical if it wasn’t also so scary. (I’m not gonna lie, I still laughed about it – I couldn’t help it.)

Then after you lay down they squish your boob again like in the mammogram – so they can find the area again and take the cells. They also numb your breast so you don’t really feel the biopsy needle when they take it. BUT you DO feel the needle when they numb you. It honestly feels like they are trying to stab THROUGH your boob.

Breasts are super sensitive, with lots of nerves so the needle in there is OUCH! After the biopsy was taken they wrapped me up in an ace bandage and stuffed an ice pack in the area. The next few days that area was really tender I have to tell you. Getting small chunks of breast tissue taken out is no joke.

I waited again for a few days to get the results of the biopsy. Then on November 11th I got a call from a lovely woman named Susie. She introduced herself as my nurse navigator – then she told me that my biopsy came back showing cancer. I had DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. Which simply put, meant that I had cancer cells in my milk ducts.

My stomach dropped to the floor and I honestly didn’t hear or process what she said for the next few minutes. I had to ask her to repeat it. She told me that this type of cancer is what they call Stage Zero. It is non-invasive and was caught VERY early. Which was a good thing all things considered. It was the best worst news I could have gotten I guess.

Susie talked me through all the information and worked with me to get my next appointment scheduled. This appointment would be where I met the various doctors that I may need to be working with. She also told me that I would need an MRI as well so the doctors could get a better look at how much of an area was cancerous.

I was absolutely gutted by this news, I immediately called my dad to tell him. My dad has always been my rock and he helped talk me through it. He listened to me cry, talked with me about what the nurse had said and calmed me down. After speaking with him I was a little better – but now I had to go tell my kids.

How are my kids going to take this?

My kids took it pretty well, of course they were worried but knowing that it was caught early and wasn’t going to be life threatening – that helped them. Honestly, I knew that the word cancer was going to scare them. Hell, it scared me – but I tried to not let my kids see that. I told them that no matter what happened I was going to do whatever it took to make sure I was ok.

A few weeks later I had the MRI and then met with 3 different doctors – oncologist, surgeon, radiation. The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center was STELLAR in how they handled my case. Making sure I had the nurse navigator to help me make appointments. Ensuring that I met with all of my doctors in ONE appointment so I could get all my information at once. I can’t say enough about how fabulous they were.

They talked with me more about my diagnosis and what my options might be. I left that meeting feeling more stable because information is power to me. NOT knowing what to expect makes me come up with all kinds of awful scenarios. So it is better for me to have the most information possible.

A little while after that, my doctor got the results of my MRI and had me come in to give me my options. I had a section of cancer cells that was about 3 ½ inches long.  She let me know that having a lumpectomy would be an option BUT it would likely be very disfiguring. As I mentioned before – I do not have a LOT to work with in the boob area.

So her recommendation was for me to have a mastectomy.

A mastectomy?

Oh my god.

I couldn’t believe it. A mastectomy?!?! How was this possible? I thought it was Stage Zero!!!! How can I possibly be making this decision?

She told me to take some time and think about what I wanted to do and then let her know. I had a lot of thinking to do – so many different things to consider. I took a few days, talked with family and friends. Cried a lot, was angry a LOT but ultimately I had to think about what was going to be best for me and my kids.

So I decided to have the mastectomy.

I will tell you more about that decision and what the surgery and process was like in my next post.

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