Twenty-eight days ago, I walked into the breast diagnostic center of the hospital for what I thought would be a mammogram, an ultrasound, and then draining what my OBGYN and I both believed to be a cyst in the outer-lower quadrant of my right breast. I remember calling a friend on my way to the hospital and mostly being nervous about how bad the mammogram would hurt, but cancer wasn’t even a possibility in my mind. I’m young. I’m healthy. Cancer? Not me.
It was 28 days ago, when the radiology technician asked to take “a few more shots” of my right breast, after a long wait while the radiologist reviewed my mammogram and then escorted me to a new room for an ultrasound of my right breast. It was then that the radiologist showed me the lump and said, “It’s not a cyst. A cyst would be solid black on the ultrasound and have clearly defined edges. Do you see how your edges look furry?” He then shared that there was a second spot that appeared on the mammogram, “some calcifications”, that were not in the vicinity of the lump. Under normal circumstances those spots would be benign, but in the presence of a lump – they become concerning.
“We will need to biopsy both spots. Can you stay longer so we can do that now?” Those two sentences set off my alarm bells. There was a sense of urgency without much explanation and I knew that wasn’t a good sign.
Twenty-eighty days ago I had two biopsies with nothing but localized numbing, on two different machines, in two different rooms from two different spots of my right breast. As I sat up following the second biopsy, the doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Look I’m going to be really honest with you. I’ll be really surprised if this doesn’t come back as cancer.” She put a rush on the pathology and 24 hours later she called – to tell me what heart already knew. Both spots came back as cancer.
Twenty-seven days ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the past 27 days, I’ve seen a breast surgeon, a plastic surgeon, my OBGYN, my PCP, an oncologist, and a genetic counselor. I’ve had an MRI, EKG, echocardiogram, two chest X-rays, bloodwork, a genetic test, a COVID-19 test, and a surgery to place my port. I attended a 2-hour “chemo class” where they walked me through the drugs, the side effects, and all the things nobody talks about when it comes to cancer. I have six new prescriptions that line my bathroom sink and more paperwork than a human can fathom.
I blinked and a month of my life has passed me by. Perhaps I should be glad it’s passed quickly and hopeful the treatment passes just as fast. But I want to be present. I want to remember. I don’t want to look back consistently on my life and have this year be “the year I had cancer” and recall nothing except that it happened. I want to remember it all – the pain and the joy. The grief and the laughter. I hope you’ll all join me as I try to remember it all.
I start my chemotherapy today – and to be honest, I’m anxious. My port is tremendously sore from having it placed Friday and I know that accessing it today won’t feel incredible. Mostly, I’m afraid of the all the unknowns: How will I feel? How will the port feel? How will the medicine make me feel? Down the rabbit hole I go!
More than anything, this Level 5 Type A Control Freak is learning that I can’t control everything and that I need to let go, give it to God, trust the journey, and find the joy along the way.
Feel free to put a little joy into the universe for me today. Till next time.