The most feared words a woman could hear…

A Life Hijacked

That is what it feels like right now. I didn’t see it coming…there was no alarm or suspicious lump…it lurked, malevolent and evil, waiting, until DCIS was discovered by a mammography exam.

What is DCIS?  Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (starting in the ductal gland of the breast..it could be invasive or non-invasive in stage found.)

So it is now September 5th…Labor Day.  The discovery took place on July 8, 2011.  Let me back up with how I got here, and where that is….

I was diagnosed with some ‘suspicious’ micro-calcifications in my left breast that appeared in two little clusters deep by the wall.  The radiologist suggest I have a stereotactic biopsy.  That diagnosis was sent to my Primary Care Physician too.

I attempted to schedule the biopsy and found I couldn’t easily slide into anyone’s schedule, so it was pushed out about 3 weeks…still, I was not a basket-case at this point.

About a week later on Friday night at 7:30p.m. while I was out walking with a friend, my PCP calls me and sends me into an emotional spiral into hell with her anxiety level and frantic pitch.  She had let my file actually SIT on her desk, knowing the diagnosis, because she waited for a staff person to fetch my phone number… then she proceeds to complain about them and how her office is in chaos (she was not selected to continue with the group and was relocating)…and offered these calming words… “I’d rather be in my situation than  yours though”…nice…. what about “physician, do no harm” do you not understand?

OK, enough about her…. I’m still on my path but not convinced that I’ve got the best and accurate reading, so while I waited, I had copies sent to Duke Medical to the chief of radiology (who is awesome by the way).

First he thought it might be in the muscle, in which case, there was no cancer… so I came in and we took additional mammograms…. drat.  In the breast tissue.

My appointment for the stereotactic biopsy ws held on 8/8 at Duke (at this point, I wanted someone who was experienced). Because of the position of the area that needed biopsy, it was unsuccessful, they didn’t have enough tissue for the needle…. next stop, 8/19 for surgical biopsy.

My oncology breast surgeon at Duke (also awesome) performed the biopsy. This went well.  Results to be obtained one week later.

Bad news.  both cancerous, one Stage 1-2, one Stage 2-3.. far worse than any of us thought it would be. A mastectomy was my only option (with small breasts, a lumpectomy would remove most of it because they need clean margins, and then I’d be subjected to radiation, at the least.. after the Brain Tumor with Gama Knife Surgery after the craniotomy and getting over-radiated in error, I am in no mood for more radiation.

Next step:how far progressed is it?  I was scheduled for a Sentinel Node Biopsy procedure.  This was held on 8/19.  Three Lymph nodes are removed (near your underarm) for biopsy… this is where I am today – waiting for the results when we meet this Wednesday, 9/7 at Duke….waiting.

So here’s the fishbone diagram du jour:

If the news is that it has not spread (that’s my vote), I proceed to the mastectomy on 9/29… I can opt to have reconstruction (which may be lengthy in process) or not.  If it has spread, my world falls apart in little pieces… chemo, radiation and who knows what before a mastectomy can be performed…. I don’t even want to think about it….

So I fluctuate with feeling pragmatic and just doing the next thing, being angry, and feeling like I’ve lost my life of biking and kayaking and the things I love to do. I laugh sometimes and remember to enjoy my life here and now, and then I temporarily fall back into disbelief.

My husband is my gift. He takes care of me in all aspects… I don’t know how I could get through this without him.  He is my rock. I’m finding my friends and family are supportive as best they can be…what do you say to someone diagnosed with breast cancer after the words ‘that sucks’….

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