October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: DCIS Breast Cancer - My True Story
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
My "Routine" Checkup
This is an account of my personal experience, and I do not take lightly anyone else’s experience in these types of serious health issues.
In June of 2011, I realized I had not had my yearly mammogram. I immediately called and made an appointment, and to my surprise they told me that I had not been in two years. I thought, where had the time gone?
Where Had the Time Gone?
I believe the time had gone by so quickly (about 18 months), as my two granddaughters, as well as my son, who is their daddy, had all been living with my husband and I due to circumstances beyond their control. Our youngest granddaughter came to us when she was only three months old, and at the time our oldest granddaughter was a little over two years old.
An Annual Mammogram can Save Your Life
A mammogram is a safe, low-dose x-ray picture of the breast. It is currently the most effective method of detecting breast cancer in its earliest, most reachable stages.
American Cancer Society
The Belated Mammogram
I was still in unbelief that I had missed my annual checkup, as I am always sure to take care of health issues and appointments. But anyway, I went on to the Imaging Center and had a mammogram, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw it, that white cluster.
At that very moment, without any person telling me, I just knew it was cancer. I prayed to my Lord without one bit of doubt and asked Him to heal me at that very instance, and then came that peace. I cannot even describe the peace that came over me. It is true, His peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. I told the Lord God right then I would glorify Him through all of this.
So, of course, nothing was said to me at first, and I had to go back into the little closet area to wait, and I knew I would be one of the last ones to leave, as the Lord revealed to me that it was cancer. And sure enough, after I heard everyone else leaving their little closets, they came and got me for more imaging.
Then I went back into the closet and waited for a while. Finally, they came back to get me to speak with the doctor. The doctor informed me that there was a cluster of calcifications and she wanted to do a biopsy the following week. And that was all I was told at the time.
A Time for Prayer and Healing
The following Wednesday night, I attended my women’s small group at my church, and they all prayed for me as well.
The following week, the biopsy was done and the doctor commented, ”Huh, that seems to be a lot smaller than I first thought.” I knew then the Lord had already shrunk the cluster. So, I waited for the results and the doctor and another person, a tech, I’m assuming, came in with very concerned looks on their faces, and with my husband sitting by my side, commenced to tell me, “It does not look good, but it is going to be okay.”
I can’t express enough the calmness I felt. I responded in a calm and gentle manner, “I know it will be okay.” And the doctor, the tech, and my husband all seemed to be surprised by my response. The doctor then looked down at my purse which my daughter had given to me that year for my birthday, which had a big beautiful beaded cross on the front of it, and I heard her say, “Oh, okay,” possibly acknowledging the fact that I was a Christian.
What they did not know is what I meant when I said I knew everything would be fine, was that not only did I have no doubt my Lord God Almighty could heal me if it were His will, but what they probably did not understand that if it were not His will to heal me, that would be just fine with me too. If my body was ravaged with cancer, and it was my time to go home to be with my Lord, then I was perfectly fine with that. My mind immediately went to the scripture found in 2 Cor. 5:8 “Absent the body, present with Jesus.”
What is Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) Breast Cancer?
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) is considered the earliest form of breast cancer. DCIS is noninvasive meaning it hasn't spread out of the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast.
After the Biopsy . . .
After the biopsy, the following week, the doctor wanted to take BSGI (Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging) photos, which are more intense, eight-minute photos of each of my breasts. It was at this appointment the doctor told me that the biopsy revealed that I had DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) cancer and that my cells were high grade. Once the three eight-minute photos were taken of each breast, they were brought to the doctor for review.
Much to my surprise, the doctor came in with a very baffled look on her face, and asked me to come into another room for an ultra sound, which I thought was unusual, as everything else they had done was more thorough than an ultra sound.
The doctor fervently moved the ultra sound device all over my breast where the cluster of calcifications was inside my breast. She just kept on moving it around the longest while, not saying a word. Then she finally pronounced, “Well, what we are going to do is send all of this to the surgeon to analyze,” and she went ahead and, it almost seemed like she had to force herself to say the following, “Maybe there is no disease.” And, I said, “That would be great!”
Another week went by, and it was time to see the surgeon, who had my images up on a screen and I had glanced at them, and just saw blank, black screens.
The first thing he asked me was, “So, what have you been told?” I told him that the biopsy showed a cluster of calcifications, but now they don’t see anything on the BSGI photos. He said, “That is exactly right, but these things can be microscopic and we need to make sure there is no hidden tumor or anything else.”
What Is a Lumpectomy?
A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure used to treat breast cancer. It is considered to be less invasive than the previously standard radical mastectomy, a lumpectomy involves making one to two incisions in the breast to remove a cancerous lump. They are designed to preserve the existing shape of the breast.
Some "old-school" surgeons still like to say partial mastectomy. They are the same.
* American Cancer Society
* National Institute of Cancer
What Is the Difference?
He wanted to do a lumpectomy (he was old-school) and called it a partial mastectomy, which sounds a lot worse than lumpectomy to me, but he confirmed they are the same. I asked him, “Even if you do not see anything from the intense photos taken, you want to do surgery?” He said, “Being that the biopsy showed the DCIS cancer in my milk duct, which is non-invasive, but my cells were high grade” (I thought, oh good, at least my cells are high grade –no, it’s not like gasoline where it means great, it means they are very aggressive), but they were contained in my milk duct, which was good, and that the estrogen in my own body was feeding the cells.
This is going to sound strange, non-invasive DCIS cancer is the best kind of cancer to get if you are going to get cancer, as it is non-invasive. However, if left unchecked, the cells could burst out of the milk duct and invade your whole body, which would of course not be good at all, as the cancer would be in your bloodstream and tissue throughout your body.
The day the surgery was scheduled, I was to first go to the Imaging Center and have a wire installed in my left breast (sounds like a lot of fun) so that the surgeon could see exactly the area he needed to cut. It was not as bad as it sounds, but they did give me a shot, which was worse than when the wire was inserted. Then they took photos and said for me to bring the images to the surgeon before the surgery.
When I arrived at the surgical center, I gave the surgeon the photos and noticed that he was looking very perplexed, so I looked and saw a simple wire on the screen going into nothing---another blank screen.
I told the surgeon then that I knew the Lord had already healed me of this cancer, as I saw that it was there, and now it is gone. He still insisted on doing the lumpectomy, “As there could be a hidden tumor.” So, I had the lumpectomy, which was outpatient, if you can believe that, and I told the surgeon that my granddaughters were not going to understand why “Nannie” would not be able to pick them up and hold them, and much to my surprise he said, “Oh, you can hold them, but just don’t do anything too strenuous for a day or two.“
Once the surgery was over, the surgeon came out and told my husband and family that he did not see with his eyes anything to indicate any cancer, BUT that I was to call Pathology in a couple of days to make sure the margins were clear and that there was not anything in the margins that was not seen by the human eye.
Coming Home After Surgery
After I returned home from the surgery, and once my granddaughters came home that day, my oldest granddaughter, who is always concerned about anyone’s “boo, boo’s”, saw those stockings on the bottom half of my legs that they make you wear to prevent blood clots, and with a very concerned look on her face, she asked, “Nannie, you have a boo boo on your legs?”
Of course, I did not want to tell her that the real “boo boo” was not on my legs, and so I just said, yes, but it is all better now. Then she said the funniest thing, “It’s okay Nannie, you just need your fast shoes.” I thought, my fast shoes? And she went into my closet and had gotten a pair of my sneakers for me to wear, as in her mind that would help my “boo boo” on my legs and I could walk better with my sneakers.
I believe when she grows up she will be in some sort of caretaker position, i.e., doctor, nursing, rehab or whatever, as she really is so concerned whenever someone has a “boo boo,” and she wants to offer a remedy. I believe that is the case due to her having had many a ”boo boo” on her knees from running too fast and she can relate.
I returned to work just after being out one day and felt great. A couple of days later, I called Pathology and no surprise there to me, “everything clear!” Praise Him! The surgeon told me that he wanted me to have radiation treatment, even though nothing was there now! And he wanted me to have 36 treatments daily (during the week days) for seven weeks, plus one day. I again told him, “The Lord healed me of this, and you still want me to have this radiation?” Of course, most doctors do not want to hear about being healed. He stated it is a preventive measure to take in hindering the possibility of the cancer returning.
I started the radiation treatment, and the techs, the radiation oncologist and the staff at the Cancer Center were the most precious people that I have ever met on this planet.
Those seven weeks and one day flew by, and I will never regret having that experience, as I was blessed enough to get to meet such awesome people at the Cancer Center. Once I had finished my treatment, the techs told me that they would miss me so very much, as they had never met anyone like me, which touched my heart, as I had never met anyone like them and told them so.
Then it was time to go over to the chemotherapy side of the Cancer Center, and see a hematologist about taking the five-year preventative pill, Tomoxifen, which I needed to take for five years to block the estrogen to my breasts, but not to other parts of my body. And once again, that hematologist was so awesome, as he was the first one to explain to me in great detail what exactly kind of cancer I had. (At this present date in 2012, I no longer take the Tomoxifen as I now have large blood clots in both lungs, and Tomoxifen can actually cause blood clots.)
I thank my God, that I did not have to have any chemo, and the Lord placed it on my heart to pray for all those having chemotherapy, as it is obviously a very difficult thing to have to endure. It is heartbreaking to say the least to see all those suffering with cancer.
Pink in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
The Only Visible Sign Left . . .
The only sign left that I even had cancer is a very faint, small incision on my left breast, as all of the radiation discoloring has disappeared. The surgeon commented that the surgery did not even affect the contour of my breast.
As I stated first off, this is just my personal experience with DCIS cancer, and I praise Him for healing me of it, and using me to glorify Him through this time, and at the same time baffling doctors and surgeons. I had no doubt whatsoever my Lord could heal me, and the best part – no fear ever entered my mind through this whole experience.
He tells us in His Word,
“Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
© Copyright April 15, 2012 Faith Reaper (All rights reserved)