A little update for you … actually it’s not little. It’s a big update. I have bad news.
I have been diagnosed with Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (a form of breast cancer).
In mid-January I was sitting on the sofa watching a movie with Gerry when I suddenly felt like someone stabbed me in the right boob with a knife.
I sat up and grabbed my breast “what the???”
I felt my breast in the area where the pain was coming from and there was a giant weird square-ish lump under the skin and a good sized dimple that wasn’t there before.
This is what the dimple looks like.
A little back-story. I have thick/dense breasts (yeah I do…). They have always been lumpy and thick and that’s why I’m religious about checking my breasts after my period as well as going for regular mammograms.
This pain/lump happened during the week of my period so I decided to wait a week before going to the doctor. After a week the lump didn’t go away so I made an appointment to see my GP. He felt the lump and he felt my other breast and didn’t think it felt like anything other than an inflammation in that area from my period but he scheduled me for a mammogram and a ultrasound just in case.
Gerry and I went to the UK. We had a blast and I came home and did the mammogram/ultrasound.
During the mammogram the technician commented on how dense my breasts are. Yes. I know.
During the ultrasound the technician commented on how dense my breasts are. Yes I know.
Then she said “I found a hazy spot in this swollen area but your breasts are so dense I’m going to call the doctor in.”
He did a quick exam with his hands and the ultrasound “Wow. You have dense breasts” Yes. I know.
He then said “There IS something. I can’t see it in the ultrasound but I can feel it. We need to do a needle biopsy.” and started to get everything ready. Oh. Now?? Oh wow … ok … wasn’t expecting this to happen so quickly.
He did the needle biopsy. He froze my breast with lidocaine and took two core samples. He was great. He showed me how the machine that takes the biopsy works before he even touched my breast. It looks like a giant ear piercing gun and makes that same snap sound when it takes a sample.
I didn’t feel a thing (other than anxiety) and he talked me through the whole thing. “Now I’m doing this. Now I’m doing that.” It went great …
Once he was done he grabbed my hand and held it while he explained things “The sample will go to the lab. It should take about 5 days. Your doctor will call you with the results. It was really nice to meet you and I wish you lots of luck with this.”
As he was talking to me all I could think is “Fuck. Why is he holding my hand for so long …This seems a little intimate.”
I had to wear a bandage for 2 days and I was a little sore but nothing major. When I pulled the band-aid off I was worried there would be a giant hole in my breast but it was a tiny little spot but a GIANT bruise.
I got a call from the doctor about 2 days later. I was happy to hear the results came in so quickly and in my naivety I figured they just got the results sooner then they expected. I think that’s called denial. Ha ha.
Gerry and I went together to the doctors office. After some idle chit-chat with the Doctor he said “There is a very good chance it’s cancer…”
It was so weird to hear him say that. I kind of feel like I’ve been waiting for the cancer hammer to drop my whole life. My Mum passed away suddenly from Ovarian cancer at 39 and losing her at such a young age I have always felt like the same fate was going to happen to me … it was just a matter of when. So I’ve thought a lot about this moment.
But in 2008 when I turned 40 and passed her in age I felt like a weight had been lifted. I lived past her death age. Wahooo! I felt like now I had a “get out of cancer” free card.
When the doctor said “it’s cancer” … all I could think was “Of course it fucking is…”
It was just like in the movies actually. My doctors voice turned all muffled like the Charlie Brown teacher and I felt like I was out of my body and watching everything from up above. My bra got really tight and all I wanted to do was get out of that stuffy room and go home and take off all my clothes and climb into bed.
Thank goodness Gerry (my beloved wonderful husband) was there with me because I was only able to grasp about 1/2 of what my doctor was saying. What I was able to grasp was that my doctor didn’t have the pathology report yet. This indicates what kind of cancer I have, etc but that wouldn’t be available for a few more days. Gerry and I went home stunned.
We told our family and a few close friends and all of them said “is it or isn’t it”. It was kind of confusing. The way the doctor told us didn’t seem to actually confirm yes or no. I started to get mad. “Why the fuck would he call me in if he didn’t have any conclusive information?”
It was a very long 5 days of sleepless nights but all this rage I had building up towards my doctor kept me going. I was pissed off at him and was going to tell him how pissed I was that he called me in to the office when he had no real info.
Early Monday morning I called the clinic and asked if my pathology report had arrive. It had but they couldn’t give me an appointment with him until 3:45pm.
No. Sorry. That’s not acceptable. I needed to know everything immediately so I asked if I could come and just find out through the walk-in clinic doctor (that’s attached to my doctors office).
BTW. This doctor who broke the news to me is not my usual doctor. Mine is on holiday so I’ve really only seen him twice. It’s not like I have a relationship with him … I told them I was coming in to the clinic and I didn’t care who gave me the report.
We arrived at about 11am and sat in the clinic for about an hour before they called my name and we walked into the office to find the doctor we saw last time. I guess maybe they called him in? Who knows… but I was actually glad to see him so I could give him a piece of my mind for making us so upset all week.
We sat down and he said “It’s Infiltrating Ductual Carcinoma. It’s a type of breast cancer.” … and then we started to talk about what happens next.
What I realized during this conversation was that he had done me a favour telling me to be prepared for cancer. Even though he didn’t have all the information at our last appointment it gave me time to absorb what was happening. So when he gave me the “official” diagnosis I was actually able to take it in and have a normal conversation about what happens next.
So I have cancer. It’s official.
My next appointment is March 20th where I go talk to a surgeon about the pathology report and this is the appointment where I will find what we’re dealing with.
We’re doing ok. I mean. There’s been a few tears but mostly Gerry and I are holding on to each other and hoping that the surgeon on the 20th has positive news like “take this magic unicorn and have him live in your bra and then you’re cured.”
I broke the news to my family and a few close friends but I have so many friends (like you) in my network that live far and wide and on the internet and it’s difficult for me to reach individually to everyone and write a personal note. So I am using my blog to reach out.
It’s not the ideal way to communicate something so serious but it affords me the ability to say what’s going on and all of you can keep up on your own time.
I plan on blogging about this. Why? Because I want you to get serious about your breast health. I go for regular mammograms and I do self-breast exams after my period every month. If it wasn’t for the regular montly self-exams I wouldn’t know how lumpy my thick breasts normally felt and that this particular lump felt different then the rest.
So do me a favour and go into the bathroom and feel yourself up. Get to know your breasts because the better you know them – the sooner you can recognize if something is different and set a timer on your phone to remind you to do a monthly self-exam.
If you don’t know how to do a breast exam properly then ask your GP or a local clinic and they will show you how. You know what?? Get on the phone right now and make an appointment to do that today. Will you do that for me?
This news sucks and all this not knowing and waiting for results is horrible torture.
But what I do know is that I am surrounded by a loving family. I have an amazing network of friends who are like family. I also have all of you out there in internet-land who have been with me through everything I write about in my blog.
So no matter what happens … I know you all have my back and that makes me the luckiest woman in the world. I wish everyone could have this much love and support.
A friend recently asked me if I was going to continue to blog/tweet/facebook and be public or keep this quiet and to myself. Her question kind of threw me. I didn’t even dawn on me not to blog about it.
Maya Angelou says “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” and this is my way of unburdening myself and connecting with all of you.
As for what’s going to happen with the store? I don’t know yet. I’ll know more on the 20th and we’ll make a plan based on that news. But in the meantime the store (retail and online) is still open! I’m at the store everyday hanging out and selling vegan stuff. I feel fine. I don’t feel sick. Please don’t feel weird about coming in. Just come in and give me a hug and buy some stuff. Ok?
I have pulled out of a few commitments I had this year. The big one is that I have decided not to do the Victoria Vegan Festival so I can focus on me. The rest of the organizers had a meeting last night and decided that they are moving forward and I wish them well.
Now where are my punk rock boots so I can kick some cancer ass?
Love you guys.