Beating Breast Cancer – Diagnosis (Part Two)

After a lot of thought, I have decided to blog about my upcoming journey with breast cancer. As you might expect, this will include details about my boobs and medical procedures.  If you think that sharing this information borders on “TMI”, then my cancer updates might not be for you.  If this is your first visit, you can catch up on my story by reading these earlier posts:

1) Why I am Blogging About My Cancer Journey

2) Discovering My Tumor

3) Diagnosis – Part One

Beating Breast Cancer as a Thirty Something - Diagnosis, Part Two

After the long weekend wait, I went back up to the hospital on a Monday afternoon (December 19th) for a core needle biopsy.  This procedure was guided by (you guessed it!) ultrasound.  Ugh.

Today’s post is not going to contain a lot of details about the actual procedure, since you can read about it here. I will tell you how this biopsy went for me…

At my local hospital, this particular procedure is considered same day surgery.  Since I’m not a medical professional, I can’t tell you if this is the case everywhere.  Due to this fact, the expected protocols for same day surgery applied (like no eating or drinking for four hours beforehand, staying afterwards for observation, etc.).  So after getting registered for same day surgery, Mr. Blue Eyes and I were led to a patient room so I could change into a gown and wait for someone from radiology to take us down for the procedure.  Sidenote:  Waiting for something like this is hard.  I was nervous and wanted to be distracted by something like TV, but having the possibility of a cancer diagnosis hanging over my head had also changed my perspective about letting available minutes with loved ones pass in a mindless manner.  I say “mindless” because we ultimately would have been silently channel surfing through daytime TV. Believe me, I still watch my share of TV, but we watch certain shows that we are both into, that we can talk and laugh about together.

So…after turning down a few offers for the TV to be turned on, Mr. Blue Eyes and I chatted for about an hour and then the radiology technician came to get us.  I don’t know what it is about ultrasound rooms, but they are always freezing cold.  This is made worse when you are being prepped to get poked in the boob (I’ll let you connect the dots there).  Luckily, the technician brought me one of those heavenly warm hospital blankets while we waited for the radiologist.

The procedure itself was pretty textbook.  Lidocaine shot, then a poke that I couldn’t feel, which was the core needle.  Then, the burning started.  The radiologist had asked me to tell him if I felt pain because he might be able to adjust something.  When I told him that I was hurting, he informed me that the needle was now at the lesion, so there wasn’t anything he could do about that particular pain.  Awesome.  Really, the pain wasn’t unbearable or anything.  Mainly, it was just this crazy burning sensation that I have never felt before and I really have nothing to compare it to.

The doctor took two samples (each sample consisted of him counting to three, a big click sound, and then a rush of burning).  He didn’t like those first two samples, so he had to try a different approach and took two more. After about ten total minutes in the ultrasound room, we were done.  It is amazing to me that all evidence of a procedure that determines the existence of such a life-changing illness can be covered up with a band-aid.  He gave me a few instructions (like no soaking in baths or hot tubs for a few days) and answered a couple more of our questions.  The doctor told us that he normally quotes 3 to 5 days for results, but with the holidays coming up it might take longer.

Christmas Cookies

We left the hospital after 30 minutes of post-procedure observation.  Then we started a marathon of birthday parties, Christmas festivities, and moving “to-dos”.  All of the activity kept me fairly distracted from worrying about the biopsy results, but random pain in my breast from the procedure was an occasional reminder.  It was actually during a family cookie baking party, only two days after my biopsy, that I got the call from my OB/GYN.  She had my preliminary results.

“It is cancer.”

She said that my sample was being sent off for more pathology so she didn’t have much to tell me about my tumor.  She had some speculation about my genetics and possible hormone receptor status and was optimistic that my cancer should behave a little better than others.  She told me that, based on what we know so far, surgery will be the first step.  I was being referred to a breast surgeon.  Honestly, I don’t remember this whole conversation.  Hearing that you have cancer really is a surreal experience.

I believe strongly in the power of positive thinking, so after hanging up the phone I said a quick prayer of thanks that I received this news when I did.  Although it was a day early and I wasn’t mentally prepared for that call, it meant that I was surrounded by family who helped support me and insulate my kids from the situation after I heard the news.

So there you have it. Four days before Christmas and six days before moving from of our home, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Keep Reading – – > Weekly Update #1 (January 15, 2017) {Genetic Testing, Initial Consults with Cancer Team, Skin Biopsy,Tumor Details}