Friday, February 13, 2015
Shortly before my 30th Birthday I found a lump in my breast.
It was late, I was hurrying through a shower when I distractedly gave myself the 'routine' self exam....and found a lump. Immediately started comparing sides and investigating the size and texture. There was definitely a almondy sized lump there. it was hard, smooth and I began to breath a little faster. I called your father in. Hes the strong one. My rock. I can always count on him. He came in right away, felt me up and said "Yea...I feel it. I'm sure its nothing.' I chose to believe that. Theres no way it was what my mind immediately jumped to. What any woman's mind would. Instead I tried to convince myself It was nothing. We all had doctors appointments for the following week so I I tried to put it out of my mind till then. If it went away...I wouldn't mentioned it. If it was there, Id bring it up'. Still, I obsessively checked everyday while getting dressed. just to see if I still felt it.
A week later I was laying on the exam table at the Drs office and finally brought it up near the end. I hadn't forgotten about it but I was still trying to convince myself it was no big deal. The Doc began the breast exam on my left side (she wanted to see for herself if she could find anything) She was still talking to me about the previous subject, giving me options for our next infertility step; when she switched to my other breast....and then stopped mid sentence. She had felt the lump too.
She told me that she was sure there was nothing to worry about. I was only 30 years old. but because of my mothers history with cancer we were going to run some tests anyway. She asked me a bunch of questions, continued my physical and asked me to get dressed and wait for the nurse. When her assistant came back in she had several papers in her hand. one was for lab work. 6 viles. ( which anyone who knows me knows me and my shy veins found this hell) then she began to explain that they had booked me in for. My doc was sending me to get both pelvic and breast ultrasounds....and my very first mammogram.
Later that night, after a good crying jag I still felt slightly disoriented, unsure...lost. Im just barely 30 years old. This shouldn't be happening. I tried to focus on the positives. I tried to appreciate the thoroughness of my Dr. That we were on top of whatever THIS was. But at the same time I was sooo incredibly scared. Why the urgency? Why all the tests? If it really is 'probably nothing" why is this all happening so fast. And just for kicks...Why is this taking so long? I had to wait a whole WEEK for the tests. That's one week of tears. stress and Dr Google. A week of not sleeping, of what ifs and pity parties.
I want you to know that through all this I did my best to not let you see. Not let you feel an ounce of the pain I was feeling. But you knew. You could tell that things were different. That even though I smiled and played, that laughter didn't reach my eyes. And I'm sorry for that. If anything, this whole thing has made me appreciate all those little moments even more then I did before. And for that I'm grateful.
But Im frustrated. Because everyone is saying its nothing. That there is no need to worry. No use crying over something that we don't know is there or not. But I don't want want to hear that right now. I want to hear this sucks. That its scary. That no matter what you ll be there for me. I want to climb under the covers and wake up when this is all over...
But I cant. Because there is you my darling amazing little girl. You, who I love more then life itself. Your right there every morning whispering I Love Yous and starting the day with smiles and laughter. Theres breakfast to be made, and games to be played. Laundry to be done and dishes rinsed. Stories read and long, sweet cuddles. So I try to push it away, to be positive, pretend my head isn't screaming in fear and confusion. I just want answers.
I got through the next week by either DISTRACTION or OBSESSING. Some days I kept myself busy with cooking, cleaning playing and baking. I felt like now was the best time to totally gut the cupboards and clean. Or sorting through the immense about of toys and crafts. And today we should definitely get all your stuffies and have an uber elaborate tea party complete with picnicy foods. And I liked those days. They were quick, and productive. Other days were slow. I hated those days. I wouldn't get dressed. Or brush my hair. I did the bare minimum and felt so incredibly guilty for it. I would put my headphones in and binge watch episodes of Gilmore Girls and The Torkelsons and The Mentalist... all the while sneaking peaks of your Daddy and you playing together. And I inevitably thought of all the things I shouldn't. How many playtimes do I have left. How many stories. laughs and cuddles. Then I felt so guilty and like a drama queen. That I was emotionally over reacting. But there my feelings. This was my reaction. I couldn't sleep at night and drove myself crazy. Id stay up late Googleing things like I FOUND A LUMP....MY FIRST MAMMOGRAM ....OTHER CAUSES OF BREAST ABNORMALITIES
Fast forward to the day of the tests. I was incredible nervous but just wanted to get it over with. I drank all the requested water and fell like I was either going to puke or pee before this was all finished. They got me in rather quickly, beginning with the Pelvic Ultrasound. After a several minutes, the technician informed me that with my Mothers previous history of Civic Cancer the Dr wanted an Internal Ultrasound as well. Just to make sure we had all the information we could. After that there was only a few short minutes till my Mammogram. They technician, ( her name was Diane, she said we should be on a first name basis if we were getting to second base) asked me several questions, felt around, and then added several flowery stickers where she felt anything palpable. I remember being cold...and feeling overwhelmed. I wont go into too much detail of the actual Mammogram. But suffice it to say it was like using one of those Shoppers Blood Pressure Machines... on your boobies...4 times. I lost the awkward embarrassment after being repositioned and pulled during the second round. Then I was led to a smaller colder waiting room with other women while my scans were read by the specials. Now it could have just been my embarrassment of the gown, still wearing the stickers, or being the youngest one by at leave 20-30 years....but I felt like they were all giving me sad yet supportive looks. They all said hello and asked me a question or two about my yarn project. ( I brought with me to distract and pass the time) 10 excruciating long minutes later, Diane came and brought me into another room. We had to take a closer look, and ultrasound the right side. I quietly lay down and let her do her thing. She tried to engage me in conversation but by now I lost all my nervous blabbering and wanted to be finished.
Again, they asked me to wait. not to change, in case they needed further investigating. This time I just sat there staring at the door. I thought about you, your Daddy, my family....just hoping and praying that all of this really was for nothing...
A few minutes later a different technician came in to tell me I could get dressed. That the Dr "Didn't feel the need for further scans. And that the report will be sent to my Dr, who will get in touch in the next day or two"
I felt relief. Surely if there was some ting to be concerned about they'd keep me for more scans. or the possible biopsy that my Dr has warned me about? I took this as good news. I was still stressed, and worried. But not nearly as much as I had been the previous week.
Unfortunately...this meant more waiting.
By the end of that week I was still feeling stressed and jumped whenever the phone rang. When the Drs Office called I went into the bedroom and answered the phone. "Shannon, its Janine from Dr S Office. She wanted me to call and assure you that your Mammogram and Breast Ultrasounds came back normal. All is well. She wants you to get annual Mammograms from here on out though because of you and your family's history."
I must have thanked her. I know we spoke more because my Doctor still wanted me to book an appointment to discuss other lab results. But I didn't feel the fear and urgency that I had the last month. I felt like a weight had been lifted and I could actually breathe again. That whatever we still have to talk about is NOTHING compared to the way I felt this past while. I felt that this moment was like a new beginning for me. I cried a bit, and before I let your Daddy know...I just held you. I kissed your forehead and we finished every page of that damn Search and Find Book that we've been through more then enough times before.
And when you looked up, and asked if those were happy tears in my eyes I said "Yes Baby. Those are Im so happy I could cry and laugh tears". You said "Those are the best kind".
My Darling Girl
I love you so incredibly much.
Always and Forever
1 in 8 woman born today will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer at some time during her lifetime. Its hard to imagine someone who hasn't been impacted by this disease. Its the strength and support of family and friends that get them through the trying times. Please take a moment today to tell someone you love them. And that no matter what, your there for them.