I found a lump while in the shower in August, did a little research and from what I read it looked it was just a cyst. I decided to watch it through my menstrual cycle to see if it got smaller as suggested. While waiting and watching once again in the shower I discovered another lump, this one was way up in my armpit, now I’m alarmed! The next day I made an appointment with my gynecologist so she could take a look. She didn’t seem particularly concerned stating that I have no family history and I’m young, but scheduled my routine mammogram and an ultrasound to cover the bases since I have dense breast tissue. She also scheduled an appointment with a breast surgeon to drain the suspected cyst as its location made it uncomfortable. It’s never good when when the radiologist comes in to talk to you personally after looking at the scans. He tells me it doesn’t look good and now the appointment with the surgeon is changed from draining to a biopsy of the breast and armpit lumps. The waiting for results is so hard and with cancer it seems like a constant game of hurry up and wait. Back at the breast surgeon’s office on Aug. 19th for results I sit alone in the room because Covid, Jeff awaiting a phone call from us in the parking lot so he can hear the news as well. I sit with a million thoughts racing through my head, though my gut is already telling me it’s cancer. She utters the three words no one EVER wants to hear “you have cancer” and I go numb and the conversation sounds like the adults in Charlie Brown’s life. I didn’t comprehend much of what she said as she showed me the proof of the cancerous tumor, lymph node, and calcifications encompassing the the entire left half of my left breast. How did I not find this sooner? How long has it been there (it seemed to pop up overnight)? Did my previous mammograms miss it because of my dense breast tissue? In retrospect my body was trying to tell me. I had been nauseous every waking moment for at least a month before I got the news, I was exhausted all the time, and I’d lost 10 lbs inexplicably. My official diagnosis at that point was invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) stage 2, meaning cancer had left my breast, grade 3, meaning the most invasive (fast growing). How? How is this possible kept playing over and over in my head. My life as I knew it until that point was over. Telling my family was so hard, I could barely form the words. The surgeon gave us referrals to local treatment facilities, but in the end we chose Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa because for cancer you want only the best care and they have an amazing reputation. It’s an hour and half drive each way, but I want my best chance at kicking cancer’s ass, so it’s worth it.
More tests. Before the end of August I had a CT scan, an echocardiogram, another MRI, another mammogram, and another biopsy. The second biopsy told us that I have two kinds of cancer in my left breast (because I'm an over-achiever and don't half-ass things), Ductal Carcinoma In Situ as well, which means that one had not yet left the ducts. They check for the presence of hormone receptors to see what feeds your cancer; estrogen ER, progesterone PR, and Her2. Some people have all, some have none, and some are a combination. Me, my flavor of cancer is 97% estrogen fed.
Now we began the research phase before actual treatment begins and our crash course in breast cancer education (we knew literally nothing at this point)…
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