Step one…Meet the first doctor….Check.

This morning was the first step in many to come.  Today I met my surgical oncologist, Dr. Mary Wilde.  Getting there this morning was a trip down memory lane; driving to La Jolla in peak traffic.  Argh!

I now know why they ask you to come in 15 minutes prior to your appointment time on your first appointment.  Filling out the paperwork took 15 minutes alone.  It would have been faster to have my DNA run.

Once inside the exam room, the nurse proceeded to take my blood pressure….Surprise it was higher than normal.  I think it was a combination of traffic, trying to find the building and then the “white jacket effect”.

When Dr. Wilde came in she sat down and explained to me exactly what my pathology report said.  She broke it down from the actual name, to the location of where it was found to the different treatment options.  The most encouraging thing she said to me is that this is 100% curable.  (Insert huge sigh here!)  She then told me that I will have a team of doctors, not just her, working with me.  I will have a Surgical Oncologist (Dr. Wilde), Radiation Oncologist (Dr. Shimizu), Medical Oncologist (Dr. Bernstein) and a Genetic Counselor (Beverly Mangerich).  Based on the results, it looks like it will be a lumpectomy and radiation.  Nothing will be set in stone until the 2nd opinion comes back from the tissue tests and I have an MRI.  All the appointments are set except for the MRI as that has to be approved by my insurance company.

Next Tuesday, I have two appointments in the afternoon, the first with the Radiation Oncologist and the second right after with the Genetic Counselor.    The following Tuesday, I meeting with Medical Oncologist.  Somewhere in between will be the MRI.  Once this is all completed, I go back to see Dr. Wilde to set up all the procedures.

Two hours later I left the office.  I haven’t felt so mentally drained in a long time.  When I arrived back at work, I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my sales partners.  As soon as I read the card, I burst into tears.  I am truly touched by their thoughts and wells wishes.

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I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment

It’s been three days since I’ve learned I have breast cancer and to say that I’m a bit overwhelmed is an understatement.   I’ve been researching and learning whatever I can so I can, hopefully, have an enlightened conversation with my doctor on Thursday.  I’ve been reading about treatment, surgeries (Yuck), radiation, chemotherapy (Double Yuck!) and I’ve also been reading up on my doctor.  Based on what I’ve read and seen on videos, I think I’m going to be in excellent hands.

Another thing that has overwhelmed me is health insurance.  I was speaking with my HR Director the other day, after he heard about my news, and he asked if I was happy with my insurance.  My response was, “Is anyone ever really happy with their insurance?”  I think going through all of this and dealing with my health insurance is going to be a learning experience in itself.  Here’s hoping that will be a smooth process.

Lastly, I am extremely overwhelmed by the love and support I have received from the people around me.  Your words of love and support have filled me with hope and helped ease my anxiety of the upcoming months.   I have had offers from friends and family to accompany me to the doctor this Thursday, but I’ve decided to go alone.  I want to be able to focus on what the doctor tells me without worrying about reactions from someone who comes with me.  I plan on taking notes and recording the visit on my phone.

This will become my mantra for the next few months and something I am extremely proud of.  Thank you Crystal.

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The three dreaded words…..”You have Cancer”.

Today, the wait was over.  I finally heard from the doctor.

I had been waiting since Monday to learn what the results of the biopsy was but Monday was a holiday and I learned the doctor wouldn’t be back in the office until Wednesday.  So at 1:30 I got the call.  You know the conversation isn’t going to be good when the doctor starts off, “I wish I had better news for you”.  She proceeded to tell me I have Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.  According to the Susan G. Komen Website:  “Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive breast cancer. In DCIS, abnormal cells are contained in the milk ducts. It is called “in situ” (which means “in place”) because the cells have not left the milk ducts to invade nearby breast tissue. DCIS is also called intraductal (within the milk ducts) carcinoma. You may also hear the term “pre-invasive breast carcinoma” to describe DCIS.  Surgery (with or without radiation therapy) is recommended for the treatment of all DCIS. Prognosis is usually excellent.”

I guess if you have to get breast cancer, that’s the one to get.  I have an appointment with a breast surgeon next Thursday to see what the next course of action will be.  From what I have read (thank God for the internet!), the following are recommended treatments:

  • Lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy: This is the most common treatment for DCIS. Lumpectomy is sometimes called breast-conserving treatment because most of the breast is saved.
  • Mastectomy: Mastectomy, or removal of the breast, is recommended in some cases.
  • Lumpectomy alone
  • Hormonal therapy after surgery: These treatments, which block or lower the amount of estrogen in the body, are typically used if the DCIS tests positive for hormone receptors.

I’m still absorbing a lot right now.  I do know that due to my rigid and obsessive control of my annual exams, this was caught early.  Yes, the “Panini Press” is not an enjoyable experience but thank God I go every year.  GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS!!!  I can’t stress that enough. 

Now to wait another week to see what is next.

Waiting is the hardest part

Yesterday was the day I had been dreading.  Waking up in the morning, I had the worse headache and was unable to take anything for it.  As usual my imagination was so much worse than the actual biopsy.  I just wish I had had someone to talk to that had gone through the same thing to ease my fears.   Going in, I was terrified; I don’t do well with “procedures”.

Now that it’s over, I can talk about it without making myself ill.  I thought I would share my experience in case anyone else going in for the same thing will know what to expect.  Even though Rebekha, the nurse who I spoke to the day before, told me the process, it’s not the same unless you go through it for yourself.

When I got into the room, they had me take off my top and put on the infamous gown that opens in the front.  The radiologist that was scheduled to do my procedure was running behind so I had to wait for another one.  Of course they had me wait alone in the room for 15 minutes.  Not the best idea to leave me alone with my thoughts just waiting…..

Finally, he came in and explained to me what he was going to do.  He showed me the multiple spots they found on my last mammogram and that when they were in there doing the biopsy, they would try to get the majority of them out.  Once they were done removing them, they would then insert a clip to mark where they been removed.  My first question was, “Would I set off metal detectors?”  He said that’s the same question all women ask and the answer was no.   He then began to say that as they were going through the process he would keep me fully informed.  I turned to him and said, “Ah, please don’t.  It will only make me ill”.  We did agree that he would tell me when the needles would go in and that would be it.  Rebeckha gave me the Zanax I asked for and it began.  I was hoping the Zanax would help my headache.

They had me hop on this odd table, face down so my left breast falls into this hole.  They then compressed it between these two metal pieces to hold it in place.  In my mind I’m thinking, “Oh great they’re going to squeeze the hell out of it like a mammogram”, but it was fine.  She did say that once I’m in that position,  I can’t move.  Trying to find a comfortable position on my stomach and placing my arms just right was the worst part of the whole procedure.

Next they swabbed me with Betadine.  He then announces the needle with Lidocaine would be inserted.  Well, I thought for sure this was going to hurt; not at all.  Not even the infamous burning you’re supposed to feel.  As he’s inserting it, Rebeckha had a hand on the small of my back and was holding my other hand.  I can’t tell you how comforting that was.  I think she knew from the moment I went into the room how scared I was.   Then the needle biopsy went in, just slight pressure but still no pain.  Popping and vacuuming sounds continue in the background and the doctor says, “We’re half way done”.  Geez can’t you just say we’re done?!  Before I knew it, we were done.   I had to rest there for a few minutes while they bandaged me up but at least I could finally move my arms.

I then had to go and have a follow up mammogram so they have on record where the clip was placed.

I found this video on YouTube that shows what I went through.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOJahVP0qCo

Once it was all over, my whole body was shaking but it was over.  Now comes the wait.  They told me the results were going to one of the faster labs and I should hear at the earliest on Monday or the latest Tuesday or Wednesday.

Waking up this morning, I had the pain they warned me about.  And I still can only take Tylenol.  Please, that does nothing for me.  I guess I’ll keep icing that sucker down and hope the pain subsides.  It’s going to be a long weekend.

Why is it that every commercial I see on TV right now is either for Cancer Treatments Centers or the Breast Cancer 3-Day.

Positive thoughts.

Every Woman’s Worst Fear

Anyone that knows me, knows how diligent I am when it comes to my health and annual exams.  I go religiously for my annual OBGYN, mammogram, teeth cleanning and general physical every year.  In the past, when I’ve gone for my mammograms, I’ve been called back before for a “closer look” but the word “biopsy” was never mentioned until now.

When the doctor called me a week ago, she said they can’t determine what they see in the second mammogram so I have to go in for a biopsy.  My doctor isn’t the warm and fuzzy type, and that’s okay, I’ve gotten used to it.  She matter of factly mentioned that she had just had one herself that past Friday.   She said that 90% of these come back negative so that was good news.

So far I’ve been lucky to be the only one in my family who hasn’t had Cancer so I’m trying to keep a positive thought that my luck will hold out.  Right now my fear is the actual procedure not the result.  Once I get through that, I’m sure the anxiety of the results will kick in.

It’s going to be a very long week.  Here’s to good thoughts.