6 years ago today on November 14, 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Below is what I wrote about the day I received the life changing news. As I read back there are details I’ve forgotten, how refreshing since it was etched in my thoughts for subsequent years to come and remains there but in a gentler place. I will admit that I’m crying right now. I’m happy to say I’m still N-E-D (no evidence of disease), and for that I am grateful, and forever indebted to my team of hard core bad ass medical professionals who brought me back to life. One thing that has increased is having no filter (HA!), and COURAGE which to me is one of the biggest gifts #sexybreastcancer bestowed on me. Always tell your truth.. as a wise person once told me ‘you do you’ and all should fall into place.
How did I find my cancer? In November 2013 I felt a lump the size of a large gumball when having a bath. I knew I had something there before I even felt it. A couple of months before, I was in a meeting at work which wasn’t overly stressful but I did get some anxiety from wanting things to run smoothly and having to manage various hats. At the end of the day I could feel this weird sensation, like something gathering in my boob. It sort of felt like when you get cold and your nipples go hard and everything tingles. But I only felt it in the left side and my nipple wasn’t hard. I will admit that I knew at the time I should run out to the bathroom and feel around but I purposely didn’t. Did I instinctively know what I would find? Maybe but I consciously made a decision to NOT check (for two months). I’ll tell you why I didn’t later, that could be a whole other blog….
Back to November – I made an appointment with my family doctor for that week. My first instinct was to go to the emerg but I hesitated because they would have told me ‘get out of here this is for emergencies only!’ And of course they would have been correct. This is not an emergency, right!?!, it could be anything. So, my FD sent me to what is called The Women’s Breast Health Centre for a mammogram and ultrasound. Still feeling confident it was NOTHING, I had the mammogram and waited for the ultrasound. My life could not take the cancer route – no way! Since I had worked in the hospital I was familiar with a few of the staff so I felt really comfortable, even chatty. I like to talk a lot (not so much anymore – I blame this on cancer treatments). The ultrasound lady squeezed the gel and started moving around my left breast and armpit area. I’ll put it this way, my life changed within the first few minutes of this. It was taking a long time going back and forth on top of my boob, then my armpit, and she was taking a lot of images. Then the quiet whispers started ‘I’ll be right back’, ‘it’s ok our radiologist reads images in house while the patients wait’, ‘be right back, she’ll come talk to you’. And bam I knew I was screwed. Quiet tears started to fall before she entered the room. She came into the darkened room minutes later and leaned over me while my arm was still above my head and these were her words:
Dr: ‘Hello my name is Dr. I don’t want to scare the shit out of you but I have to it’s my job – we are going to need to schedule you for an ultrasound guided biopsy next week’
Me: ‘So you’re worried’
Dr: ‘Yes, we’re worried’
F*ck. And she left the room. Brain spinning, I came out of the room and was whisked to a small room with a small round table and chairs, a telephone, and that always annoying box of Kleenex. I wish they took you to a room with an open bar because seriously shouldn’t someone being told they have a 90% chance of having cancer be offered a tequila shot?!