It was this time last year that I discovered a lump in my right breast during a self exam. We had just returned from west Texas for Travis and Brandi's wedding. I was showering early in the morning and found it. My heart sank and I felt again...just to be sure I was really awake. I called my doctor when her office opened at 8 am and that began the sequence of events I have endured this past year. Below is what I wrote about my initial experiences:
This past Wednesday evening I had a complete meltdown. Allen was out of town. Alex was in bed asleep. Sarah had just gone to bed. I sat down at the computer before going to bed. My mind was racing so I decided to try to write down my thoughts. I wrote for an hour and half...non-stop. The last half hour, I started crying. At first, just a few tears but the more I wrote, the faster the tears came. Suddenly, I couldn't see what I was writing through my tears. I had written a ton of feelings...questions...thoughts. I decided to enlarge the type so I could hopefully see what I was writing. I highlighted the whole thing but before I could change the font size, everything disappeared. Everything I had written was gone...erased! I could not figure out how to bring it back. It was after 1 o'clock and Sarah was sound asleep so I didn't want to wake her. I just sat there looking at the computer in shock. The tears had stopped though. I felt panicked. It was almost as if everything I was feeling just disappeared with the text on the screen. Gone! I suddenly felt very calm. It was time to go to bed. I did just that but still couldn't fall asleep. I still didn't know what I had done to make everything I had written disappear.
I have gone through just about every emotion you can think of during the past 10 days. Through everything, the main questions that surfaces over and over again is WHY? I have been alarmed. First, at finding the lump and then again when they did the mammogram...and then a second mammogram...then being told they need to do a sonogram...on both breasts! Then, they come back and want to do a sonogram on the lymph nodes under my right arm! A radiologist came in and said that the left breast is fine...and the lymph nodes are clear BUT they need to do a biopsy on the lump in the right breast. It is showing up as 3 cm big and they need to check it. If I would like, she can do the biopsy right now or I can go home and think about it and call back tomorrow to schedule it for another day. HELLO!!! Why would I put something like this off to another time! Check it right now! Then, she has to tell me all of the terrible things that might happen but probably not. Test is over. When do I get the results? Well....the lab says it can take 3 to 5 BUSINESS days to get the results but I am asking for them asap and they have been really good lately at getting them back to us in 2 or 3 days. But this is Friday so it will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Finally, on Tuesday morning, the nurse called and said I do have cancer this time. I was upset when I got off of the phone with her. Yes, upset because she said I had cancer but more upset when she advised that they were scheduling me for an MRI....NEXT WEEK!!! Did she not just tell me that I had cancer?!?! Why did I have to wait a week?? I was ready to go right then. Should I find another hospital to go to? Did I need a different doctor?? You don't tell someone they have cancer and then tell them but we aren't going to do anything about until next week! I could be dead by next week! Why did I have to wait? That was the earliest opening they had but in the mean time, one of their breast cancer specialist was going to be calling me to set up an appointment to discuss the situation and explain what options I have. Ok. When? Sometime later today or tomorrow. Deep breaths. Ok.
A scheduler called about an hour later to set up an appointment with the specialist...tomorrow. Ok. One more day! I can handle that. At least at that time, I thought I could handle it. Allen and Sarah went with me. I was feeling numb by this time. I couldn't believe (and still can't believe) that this is happening to me. She informed me that yes, the biopsy does say I have cancer but it is not conclusive that it is breast cancer! What?? Cancer in the breast is breast cancer, right?? No. I could have cancer somewhere else in my body that has spread to the breast. Not at all what I was expecting to hear. Ok, so what do we do now? A PET scan. That will show the doctors exactly where I have cancer. Once they know that, they can determine what the next step will be. Ok...when? Well, we do PET scans here at this hospital on Wednesdays. Great! Today is Wednesday!! Where do I go to get it done? Sorry! We are completely booked today. I don't want to wait until next Wednesday...is there somewhere else I can have one done sooner? I can check. OK!!!! Then, check!!! What are you doing just sitting there????? I'll be right back. Can you go to Temple to our clinic there tomorrow? Duh, YES!! I will go to Dallas or Houston or where ever I need to go to get some answers!! You just told me that I not only have cancer but you aren't sure exactly where all I have it! My whole insides could be full of cancer and you want to know if I can go to Temple, TX just 90 miles away to have a test done tomorrow?!?!? Of course, I can! Then, she did an exam and said that she thought it was much larger than the mammo stated. She thought is was actually more like 5 cm x 7 cm! Yeah, that is quite a bit bigger than 3 cm. But it could just be still swollen from the biopsy. OK, if that was a possibility, did she really have to tell me that she thought it was bigger?? Couldn't she have just waited until she had some more definitive information or does she just like scaring people to death??? Once the PET scan is completed, they will know what they are dealing with. I still need to have the MRI done next Tuesday and then she can present me with a 'plan'. Would I like to go ahead and schedule an appointment for that? What kind of an idiot does she think I am??? No! I just want to have these tests done and then forget everything! I don't want to know what to do about it or what options I have! I will just let the cancer take over and kill me!! Do I really look that stupid??? Ok...get the tests done Tuesday morning and she will meet with me at 3 that afternoon to go over everything. Now! When will I get the results of the PET scan? Well, they might have them ready tomorrow afternoon but they should be back by Friday morning. BUT I have an interview Friday morning so I won't be in the office until around 12:30. Who else can give me the results? Well, I don't think you would want just anyone giving you the results so I will try to get them tomorrow but I will call you as soon as I can on Friday. Excuse me but I don't care who gives me the results...I just want to know where and how much cancer is in my body! That's ok...I will talk to whoever administers the test tomorrow and get the results from them.
I tried to stay calm. I don't want to upset anyone else. My whole insides are shaking but I manage to go home and help Allen get things ready for a trip he has to make to Uvalde for a training class. I held things together the rest of that afternoon and evening. Helped get Alex to bed and said good night to Sarah. Once she left the room, I decided that maybe it would help me feel better if I sat down and wrote down some of these feelings so I did just that. But then they disappeared.
I was scared. What kind of cancer did I have? It has to be pretty bad to be spreading to other places. Can it be treated? Probably not, if it is already spreading. They can't remove that much stuff. How long will I have to live? I feel perfectly fine. Will I still be here for Thanksgiving? Christmas? Could I last another 6 months? a year? I am not afraid of dying...in itself. I am just not quite ready to go. I have things that I wanted to do. Ok. That's not good. God is in control. Things happen in His time, not mine. But God, I really need to wrap up some things. I take care of so many things for Allen that he doesn't even realize. I need to prepare him to take care of them for himself. I was really looking forward to us buying or building a house to retire to in the next year or two. I was looking forward to getting a workshop for my crafts and being able to make some things for me...not someone else...not to sell...just for me. I wanted to do some painting, some sewing, some reading, put in some flower gardens and a vegetable garden...can some tomatoes and green beans again...traveling to some of the places I always wanted to go but we were too busy or too broke to do. Guess those are just dreams now. WHY? Why is this happening? What have I done wrong? Am I being punished for something I did or didn't do right? I have always tried to do what is right. I have always tried to be there for everyone, helping however I could. Why is this happening and why now? I just don't understand. All of these things and a hundred more were going through my mind Wednesday night. I was overwhelmed to say the least.
Thursday came and the test was done. When she finished, she told me that she would be taking the test over to the doctor right then, and my doctor should have the results back in 45 minutes to an hour. That was 2:30. I waited until 4 to call for the results. Of course, the doctor was not at her desk. 4:30 I made the second call and got voicemail that time...had to leave a message. I was looking up the main number of the hospital to call when the doctor called me back. She had just got the results. No cancer showed up anywhere in the body but the right breast. It is definitely breast cancer. The cancer 'team' will be meeting on Monday to review my case and results. She will have a plan for me on Tuesday afternoon at 3. This is 'good' news! Good news that you have cancer?!?! I don't think so! Cancer is never good news. However, breast cancer is more beatable than other forms. We will see.