I am so thankful for those 24 healthy years. I am grateful to my doctors, nurses, researchers and God. Whoever played a part in my successful outcome. I had 24 years to watch my boys grow into wonderful men. I had 24 years with the love of my life and best friend, my husband Jack. The whole experience brought us closer together, to appreciate each day together and to never take anything for granted. People have often commented on how awful it must have been to have such young children at the time. Yes, it was scary but it was also a blessing. First, they kept me going everyday. It made me want to fight even harder. They also were too young to begin to understand what I was going through so I didn’t have to deal with their fear as well as my own. My oldest son, who was 2 1/2, once asked me why I was going to see the doctor again. I simply told him that mommy had a boo boo that the doctors were fixing. He completely accepted this and went back to playing with his toys.
So life is good and fast forward 24 years to where I began this story on a cold February day in 2015. I am sitting in a tiny dressing room in a robe waiting to be brought in for a mammogram. I have been trying to read an article about the new colors for spring but can’t seem to get past the first sentence. Has this gotten any easier over the years? No, it has not! I remember when I first read about the new technology called Digital Mammography. I made an appointment at the new Breast Wellness center . When I entered I was so impressed by the decor. It looked more like a spa than a health center! This is great, I thought. Boy, was I disappointed when it was explained to me that it was a clearer picture and therefor easier to read, it was still the same procedure. It still hurts! But I digress.
I have my mammogram and am shown back to my room and instructed not to get dressed until the Radiologist has read my images. So I go back to trying to figure out what are the hot colors for spring. Then the moment that all women dread in that situation. The Radiology Tech came back into the room to inform me that the Radiologist would like a few more films taken. I feel myself start to shake. “It’s nothing, It’s Ok” I keep repeating to myself over and over as I walk back into the room. The images are taken and the tech leaves the room only to return a few minutes later needing to take even more images. OK, this isn’t good and what really freaks me out is that they are focusing on the right breast instead of the left side where I had the the cancer the last time. The next thing I know is that I am being ushered down the hallway into another room where another tech performs an ultrasound. Then the doctor appears and explains to me that there is a mass in my right breast. All those feelings of fear and uncertainty from 24 years ago immediately come rushing back! They tell me that I need to come back for a biopsy. I make an appointment and somehow find myself back in my driveway, not really remembering driving home. For a very short time I think about not telling Jack about the biopsy until after I get the results. No sense worrying him if it turns out to not to be anything. But that plan is short lived. You see, no one knows me better than my husband. He always teases me about not having a great poker face, so as soon as he walks in from work, he takes one look at me and asks”What’s wrong?” I fall into his arms and tell him about the mass they found on my right breast. I was wrong to try and conceal it from him. This man has held me and cried when both of our sons were born and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time. He is my rock and I need his strength now. We try to console each other over a glass of wine but we are both worried. However we both agree that we won’t tell the boys until we have more information. At this point I cannot stress enough, that whoever you have in your life, let them in. Let them hold you, love you and take care of you. Don’t try and go it alone.
Early the next week, I arrive back at the Breast Center for my biopsy. So many things have changed since I was last diagnosed. The biopsy is is very different. I am lying face down with my right breast put through an opening in the table. They raise the table and the doctor is actually below me. She numbs up the area and then I hear several punch gun type sounds. I don’t feel anything and the whole procedure is over pretty quickly. No general anesthesia to recover from like last time and the incisions are quite small. Recovery was easy. I had 2 days off and then went back to work.