#MyLeftBoob Chronicles Day 64: Another Lump, Another Biopsy, Another Few Days of Waiting

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When I told my Facebook friends my doctor wasn’t too concerned about anything when I went for my follow-up, that was only a “half truth.”  She wasn’t concerned but I was.

Monday, June 8, 2015

I went for my follow-up visit with the surgeon Monday expecting for an “all clear” but heard the news no woman wants to hear….ever….they found a lump. Another lump.

“There seems to be a little bit of a lump underneath the scar tissue,” the Nurse Practitioner said with an all-too-cheerful voice for this type of news. Another lump? But I’m going through chemo? I’ve already had three lumps. What does this mean? Is the chemo working?  I tried to remain calm while all of these scary thoughts started racing through my mind. This would be the fourth in five months.

The first they took out during a lumpectomy on Feb. 17. The second was just a swollen lymph node. The third I had checked at the “big” cancer center and was told it was just a cyst. That doctor ordered a PET Scan which came with great news– No Evidence of Disease. I am “NED” as on March 8, 2015. So then what is this new lump?

I sat quietly in my pink hospital gown praying and trying to remember all of the healing scriptures I had meditated on before. The surgeon came in and didn’t seem to be too concerned with the news from the nurse.

“It’s unlikely for something new to grow while you’re going through chemo,” she assured me.

“Then what is it? I’m just nervous because of the type of cancer I was diagnosed with and its high recurrence rate,” I said.

“It seems to be a nodule underneath the scar tissue that we will want to watch,” she said. “You can wait until your next mammogram at the end of August or get an ultrasound sooner.”

I opted for the latter, hoping for them to tell me it looked normal. No such luck. I went down the street to the radiology department and waited for good news. The ultrasound technician said it looked like normal scar tissue and fluid to her, but the radiologist would have to look to be sure. Yay! That sounded hopeful. The radiologist came in and looked but he was not as reassuring.

“This dark area could be scar tissue but I can’t tell you with 100% certainty that it’s not cancer without doing a biopsy. It’s up to you whether you want to wait until your next mammogram in August, or we can schedule a biopsy for this week if you want to put your mind at ease,” he said. “I’m sorry I don’t have better news but I can’t tell you for sure 100%.”

I called back the surgeon to tell them to schedule the biopsy and waited to hear back regarding the appointment date.

Tuesday, June 9

More waiting. Try to stay positive. Try to think good thoughts. Focus on the good: “Stage 1. Has not spread. Not likely to be cancer.” I waited all day for the doctor to call me back. I just wanted to get this over with. I finally called them late Tuesday afternoon after hours of waiting and pushed them to give me an appointment A.S.A.P.

My biopsy will be on Wednesday. Tomorrow. Oh boy. We didn’t tell the kids anything yet. I wanted to wait until we had some news before I told them anything. It was hard to put on a brave face but I managed to for most of Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 10

I did all my work and scheduled out my posts ahead of time in case it would take a while. My husband drove me because I didn’t know how I’d feel after. I had the same radiologist I had for my first biopsy in January so that was reassuring. The mood in the room was light and casual. I had a good feeling about this. I talked to the ultrasound tech about her tattoo which she told me was the bleeding heart of Mary, A sign. God is with me. Everything will be okay. It has to be. I have a lot more living to do! I have a book to write and a documentary to finish. And it has a happy ending!

The doctor came in and explained what he was about to do: stick a big long needle in my left boob to numb it. Then I would feel some burning and he’d stick me again to make sure I was good and numb before he cut me open. I’m not looking at the needle. Deep breaths. Good thoughts. I was now numb and he started working. He took about 4-5 samples, which sounds like a very loud staple gun right in your ear,  while the tech pressed down hard with the ultrasound probe to guide the doctor on the screen as to where to take samples from. He inserted a titanium clip in my boob in case more surgery was needed at a later date. The whole procedure took a little less than an hour.

After two allergic reactions I’m always concerned about follow-up so I asked him about the wound care. He apparently went into auto-pilot while explaining to wait 24 hours to shower but when I do shower that I can wash my hair, just don’t let the shampoo run over the wound.

“Ummm, that won’t be a problem because I don’t have any hair,” I told him. We all got a good chuckle out of that.

Next I had to go get a mammogram to photograph the site- pretty uncomfortable after just being cut. I went home with a gauze pad and an ice pack on my boob, holding on to hope that they will tell me “it’s nothing.”

My mom came over to drop off some veggies for my shakes and I wanted to tell her what was going on but couldn’t because my daughter was there and I knew I’d break down. So I had to hold in this scary news for another day.

Thursday, July 11

More waiting, more waiting, more waiting. As bad thoughts swirled quickly through my head I tried to combat them with good thoughts, prayers and healing scriptures. I waited half the day before I couldn’t stand it anymore and tried calling the doctor for results.

Finally the nurse practitioner called me with the news. Her delivery was very similar to the way I got the news back in February that I had a “rare and aggressive type of breast cancer only 1% of women get called Metaplastic Carcinoma.” She basically dropped the bomb and ran.

She told me that I have ADH – Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia. HYPER WHAT? Another weird, unusual, rare, abnormal thing I couldn’t pronounce and it didn’t seem like she knew much about. Or I wasn’t understanding her explanation. Again, I was left with no info and now had to wait for the doctors to call me back when he/she has time. The nurse said it’s not cancerous but something that will have to be surgically removed and watched. Great. MORE surgery… as if 6 cavities, 1 tooth extraction, a lumpectomy, port surgery, 2 E.R visits all in 5 months was not enough.

I called my husband to tell him the news. As I began talking I lost it and my sweet puppy immediately jumped in my lap to try to comfort me, hugging me with her paws and licking my face. I tried to act normal when the kids got home. I was still waiting for the doctor to call to explain what this all means.

Then finally, not one, not two, but three doctors all called back at the same time! I had 2 on the cell and one on the home phone, trying to juggle who to speak with first. I chose my surgeon and called back the other two. She said the lump will have to come out but it has to wait until after I’m done with chemo. She said again that it is not cancer,  just a few abnormal cells. I could barely focus on what she was saying, my mind distracted with the other 2 doctors on the other lines. She said we’d discuss more on Monday at my next follow-up.  “I hope that helped,” she ended the call with. “Yes, thanks.” I didn’t hear a word you just said.

My oncologist called back next to explain that the lump is very small, in a single duct and there are just a few atypical cells. He said some may say it’s pre-cancerous or an indicator that I could get cancer but we already know I had it and we already got it out. And I’m getting chemo so he said it’s like getting an abnormal PAP smear– it’s not cancer but it’s something to watch.
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My oncologist, radiologist and surgeon all agree the new lump needs to come out but said I don’t need a mastectomy. I’m going to get a second opinion anyway because I don’t want to have to worry that it will come back.
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I feel like I got the wind knocked out of me all over again but I’m trying to stay positive and keep the faith. It’s tough when I keep getting pummeled over and over again but I guess that’s what it means to have your faith tested.
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There’s a Bible verse that says if I have the faith of a mustard seed I can move mountains so that’s what I’m believing…..that the lump is the size of a tiny mustard seed and once it’s out this huge mountain I’ve been trying to climb over will MOVE and be gone for good!  I just need to get through this bump in the road and keep fighting hard.
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Friday is Relay for Life which will be a nice distraction. It will be something good good to do to help others, honor those we’ve lost to cancer and support those still fighting like me. Our team has raised $2,400 for the American Cancer Society which is awesome! And I continue to blog and write to raise awareness for early detection so something good has come out of this horrible thing.
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If you’d like to support my breast cancer battle on GoFundMe, click here.

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