Breast Cancer Chronicles: The First Few Weeks Pretty Much Suck!
Start Thinking About A Double Mastectomy
I have been living with a diagnosis of breast cancer for a few weeks and during this time, I have had my highs and a few very low lows, but I have been living, and plan to continue living... My doctor is an incredible woman, who has taken to stalking me these past few weeks and I have no doubt that she will continue to do so as she takes this journey with me. I don't think I have gone more than two days without a phone call from her and the woman tracks me better than any private investigator I have ever seen.
I had a core biopsy on Tuesday, but the day before that biopsy, I saw my doctor and she told me that I should start to consider a double mastectomy as one of my treatment options. Because of my family history (my mom died from breast cancer) and my own poor health history, a double mastectomy might be the best option. Quite a shocker! I was immediately horrified and without giving it a thought, I said, "I don't think we'll be doing that." Needless to say, that was a low point, but I guess I will have to think about it.
The Core Biopsy: Count to Three
So, on Tuesday morning, I found out what it feels like to have a spring-loaded 'gun', if you will, shoot a large caliber needle into my breast six times. This procedure was done in the radiology department with the aid of an ultrasound, so that the lump could be better visualized and the path of the needle be more efficiently guided.
The radiologist came in, cleaned the breast area with antiseptic, gave me a few shots of a local anesthetic (similar to the dentist, just in a different spot) and told me that he would be removing six tissue samples. As soon as my breast was sufficiently (that is still up for debate) numb, he said, "Each time I put the needle in, you are going to hear a popping sound, so before each needle goes in, we will count to three. Stay still, don't be afraid. It won't hurt."
If you ever hear the words "It won't hurt", don't believe it! It is almost never true, at least in my experience. I have to give him credit for at least partial truth. The first three times it did NOT hurt. The fourth needle almost made me cry, and the fifth and sixth were just as bad. The whole procedure took less than twenty minutes, followed by ten minutes of the radiology assistant applying pressure to my breast. That was done to stop any bleeding, and was not painful.
Steri-strips were applied to the incision and both breasts were wrapped with a compression bandage. The procedure was similar to applying an ace wrap and when finished, I dressed and walked out of the treatment room wearing what looked like a modified sports bra. The ace wrap stayed on for 24 hours and when I took it off the next day, I was surprised at the amount of swelling and bruising.
I do not have any results yet, but I do know that the core biopsy will tell them whether the cancer has spread, what type of cancer it is and whether it is aggressive or slow-growing.
For any other women out there being faced with a biopsy--- Get it done! It was not that bad and certainly not as frightening or as painful as I had imagined.
The financial impact of a core biopsy is significant. In southern California, the cost is anywhere from three to seven thousand dollars. Because I have great insurance, my out of pocket cost was zero. If you have no insurance, you must contact every patient advocate organization that you can think of. They will help you. If you need my help, contact me though HubPages. I will help you get in touch with the organizations in your area that will get you this all-important diagnostic tool. I don't know everyone, but I know of many resources that are out there.
Highs and Lows
A diagnosis of breast cancer brings many things, including an overwhelming amount of support and even more prayers. That is the biggest and best high point! The first article I wrote made me cry---not the article, but the comments. Thank you and a big kiss to all of you!
I always knew that I have a great family and dear, dear friends. This experience is reinforcing that knowledge.
The lows are not so great and I am sure that I am not alone. I have been more cranky than normal, and even my normal crankiness is not so attractive. I guess it is because I am afraid.
Yep, I am terrified! If you are a control freak like me, the thought that you cannot control outcomes is pretty devastating. No, I cannot intimidate this cancer invasion into retreat and surrender, but I am going to try to beat it up alot.
Over the course of this journey, I will be writing of my experiences. Besides helping myself get through this, maybe I can help other women to know that they are not alone in this fight.