Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Day I Found Out I Have Cancer

Look, everyone who HAS cancer, FOUND OUT they have cancer. I guess this doesn't make me unique. But it's ME we are talking about and it's MY blog. So here's how I found out I have cancer. 

Like all good and dutiful adult females, I had my annual mammogram in late December. Fine. No big deal. It's a bit uncomfortable to have your boob smashed to the width of a piece of paper but it's a fast visit. Although this time, I was called in a room to speak to the tech. She showed me my mammogram image and pointed to what looked like a tangle of bright veins and said while she thought it was probably nothing, she would like for me to have an MRI. I said, "right now?". Yes. So into the MRI machine I went. Now it's starting to be a bit concerning. I had had an ultrasound post mammogram in the past to rule out funky imagines, the MRI was a first. And it bothered me that we needed to go to so much effort to check out what may not be anything. So, when I got the call a week later that I needed to schedule a MRI biopsy, I became really concerned but still not terrified, given my history. I faithfully get my mammogram each year, surely this would turn out the same. 

It wasn't the same. 

The GW Breast Center hounded me daily to come in for my results, but I had a feeling it wasn't going to be good news so I waited them out until I could touch base with my doctor, Dr Malone. She had called on a Monday (a few days after the biopsy) but I missed her call. I traveled out of town for the next two days. My birthday was the next day and even though I called her office, she was not in. Friday was the presidential inauguration (i.e. no one works in D.C. that day) and so it was the following Monday and I again called - she wasn't in but she'd be in the office Tuesday. I called Tuesday morning and left a message. No call. I called again around noon with food in my mouth certain I'd get their lunch hour voicemail but instead got a human who immediately put me thru to the doctor. 

She asked if I'd spoken to a surgeon yet...I told her I hadn't heard my results (all the while knowing that if she had expected me to speak to a surgeon this wasn't going to end well). I could hear her pulling up my chart on the computer. She took time to refresh herself with my results and simply  said...... it's cancer.

A sudden rush came thru my ears, the room got dark, I couldn't breath - literally couldn't breathe. And I started to cry. Uncontrollably. She asked if I wanted to see her. To come to her office. I said yes.

I called Liz and told her I'd made contact with Dr. Malone and she suggested we go to her office. I did not tell Liz that I knew the diagnosis. I didn't want her to be upset as she needed to get herself from our home (she had called in sick that day) to my office. I had to figure out the "right time" to tell my wife I had cancer. I didn't want her to hear it from the doctor.

We made it the hospital parking garage, found a spot and Liz shut off the car. I looked at her, took her hand and she began to cry. I told her I'd talked to the doctor and that it was cancer. Liz balled for minutes. I held her hand and let her. Telling her I would be ok. She told me I'd better fight like I've never fought for anything before. I assured her I would.

We talked with our doctor - who has saved my life at least two previous times- and we made a plan. She identified a surgeon, called her office and made my appointment for the following Tuesday. She gave me a hug and her cell phone number.

We went home, held hands thru the night. Let Bettie sleep on the bed. I got little sleep, brought into tears several times and got thru the first night. Hope it gets better from here but I'm fearful there will be other nights like this. 

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