Day 1- Pre-Cancer Diagnosis
Today felt like any other normal work day. I woke up, showered, got dressed, grabbed a granola bar from the cupboard and filled my mug with coffee. The only differences were I did not put on deodorant, I was headed to the Breast Health Center instead of work, and Andy was following me in his big work truck. He had decided he wanted to go with me to the appointment this morning, yesterday I had told him to just go to work and I would text him when I was done with the appointment. Thankfully he came with, I had no idea what was about to happen next.
Although I have always assumed I would get breast cancer one day, I never imagined it would be at this point in my life. I arrived to the Breast Health Center 10 minutes late. I accidentally parked in the wrong ramp and it took longer than expected to find a place to park and then find where to check-in. They allowed me to go back anyway, thankfully. I got changed and texted Andy a blurry pic of the fancy gown I got to wear while he was in the waiting room.
The painful lump I found in my left breast felt like it was going to explode as I was getting my mammogram done. I was then escorted back to the waiting area to wait for my ultrasound, which was already in the plan because of the lump. This was nothing new for me either since I have had ultrasounds in the past. There was an older woman in the waiting area, tan and leathery from the obvious retired life. She was wearing more jewelry than I own. She asked if I was there for a callback. She told me she was called back and was “scared to death.” I told her, perhaps a little brashly, there was probably nothing to worry about. I think I might have acted differently and more compassionately if I knew what was going to transpire in the next couple of days. I went in for my ultrasound. I have had one before, but this one was different because every time the technician went over the lump, I flinched involuntarily from the pain. The technician kept apologizing and I kept trying to control the flinching. She looked at the lymph nodes under my left armpit as well, something I didn’t remember the tech doing during my previous ultrasounds. She left to get the doctor. The doctor came in and the first thing she said was, "Kathryn, I am concerned by what I am seeing, I am glad you came in.” At that moment, there were a million questions buzzing through my head but I couldn’t speak. (why are you concerned, what are you seeing, what does it look like to you, is it cancer?) None of that came out of my mouth. She zeroed in on the lump, took some additional pictures and said she would like to perform a biopsy, which could be done today if I would like. I said yes (who would want to wait?). The doctor left the room and I asked the tech to get Andy. She said he could come in but could not stay for the biopsy itself. I broke down in tears when I saw Andy. I told him they were going to perform a biopsy because the doctor was concerned with what she saw on the tests. We talked about how to inform my work that I wouldn’t be in today. I wondered how I would be able to go to work tomorrow while waiting for the phone call with the results. The tech was in and out of the room and graciously said she could get me a note for work excusing me until after the test results were returned.
The biopsy went ok. It was quite unpleasant, and the needle was HUGE, but at least the numbing injections did the trick after the initial pain from the injections themselves. The doctor said she would be taking 3-4 samples but she ended up taking 5. She must have seen something. I am glad she was being thorough. After she was finished, I finally was able to blurt out, “you looked at my last mammogram right?” she said, yes, there was nothing there. She snuck out of the room because obviously, she knew what this was and didn’t want to have to answer more questions. The technician was great; she was making small talk and assured me I would have the letter for my employer before I left. She probably knew what was going on too.
I wonder what they said to each other when I left? I was grateful I didn’t have to wait to get the biopsy completed. The rest of the day was a blur. Andy contacted my boss and told him I wouldn’t be in today. I would have done it but I couldn't hold it together. I had originally taken 2 hours off in the morning thinking I would be told, you have a cyst and I would be on my way.
I secretly hope it is all just a big misunderstanding, and that what looked concerning to the doctor is really just some other type of benign mass that could be mistaken for something bad. I still have some hope, but mostly fear the unknown.