Archive | April 17, 2017

The Sucker Punch

Feb. 13th – 

 

My Monday began like any other Monday.  I dropped my son off at the bus stop, came home, tended to the animals and started with house work.   Around mid morning I get a phone call from the imaging center.  I thought it was a courtesy call to see how I was feeling post biopsy, like they had said, instead it was a call telling me that my results were in.  She asked if I was able to come in for a consult in a few hours to discuss my test results, this puzzled me, but of course, I said, “sure, what time?”  We scheduled it for 1 o’clock.   This made me very nervous and my mind and thoughts were thrown into overdrive.   Panic immediately set in and the worst, no matter how hard I tried, came to mind.   I started crying.   Why can’t they tell me my results over the phone?   Why can’t they mail them like they usually do?  Why do I need to go in for a consult?   A consult for what?  Something is very wrong. 

Maybe it came back benign and they want to discuss a lumpectomy.    This is what my next steps were gonna be should it be benign.   I wanted that painful little sucker out of my body!!  But my gut was telling me other things.   Things I didn’t wanna hear.  My gut already knew what was going to unfold here shortly.

I drive to the imaging center, alone.  I have no one with me.  I’m extremely independent and have always done things like this on my own.   Why bother anyone to come with me?  I’ll be okay.   I’m strong. 

I get there and when I’m called to the back, I’m taken to this consult room and left there for a moment by myself.   I look around and this room gives me an eerie, empty feeling.  It’s calmly decorated with easy colors, a few flowers, a bookshelf with a phone, a sofa, coffee table and a couple of chairs at which I sat.   There are boxes of kleenex and my heart starts to pitter patter and it makes its way to my throat.   Why am I here?  In this room?   This room feels so lonely and sad.   A few moments later the doctor walks in with an assistant and a bunch of  papers.   He introduces himself and wastes no time and begins with – 

” I wish I had better news for you,  but unfortunately we found cancer.”

I look at him in total disbelief!   I literally can’t believe what he just told me.  Cancer?  How can that be?   Me?  Cancer?   What???  I’m in total shock.  I have no one with me, I’m all alone.   And I have cancer?  I had no words, nothing came out of my mouth.  I sat there emotionless.   No tears came out, no words, I couldn’t even think.   He began shooting out terms and words I had NEVER heard in my life!   Triple negative breast cancer.  No receptors to fight it off.  No estrogen receptor, no progesterone receptor, no Her2 receptor.    The best and only treatment for me would be chemotherapy.   I would need surgery and also radiation.

It was a sucker punch to my gut that knocked me flat on my ass!

 

What does all of this mean?   What are receptors?   What even is Her2?  I have never heard of any of this.   I need chemo?   What is triple negative?

Triple negative breast cancer.   Invasive ductal carcinoma.   It is the most common kind to have and also the most aggressive.   My tumor is 1.2 cm, it is small.  Maybe the size of my thumbnail and the goal is to cure me.   The surrounding tissue of the tumor has precancerous cells and at any moment some could break away and travel through my bloodstream to other places.   Chemotherapy is my ONLY option and there is also mastectomy.   Everything was coming at me so quickly that all I could do was just look straight ahead at him.

My world ferociously stopped yet it spun so quickly. 

When I was finally able to spit out a word, I told him,  ” I don’t understand!  I was just here 10 months ago and everything was clear.   How does something like this happen in that amount of time?”

He answered with,  “It is possible.”

Me,  ” I still don’t understand,  I don’t drink, I don’t smoke,  I don’t do drugs, overall, I’m pretty darn healthy and I believe I’m still young,  I’m only in my early 40’s.”

Him,  ” It is rare, but it can happen.”

Me,  ” And the area is painful,  I have always been told that the painful ones aren’t concerning or cancerous!!”   I’m starting to lose it.

Him,  ” No, they are not painful, that is very unusual and we don’t understand why it is painful, but some can be.  Again, it’s unusual, but it can happen. “

I have nothing else to say.  My mind just can’t think or process what he’s telling me.   He continues with ” a slew of doctors will be contacting you shortly.”  They have already sent my information to an oncologist.   Things will be happening very quickly.   And I will be meeting with many doctors to begin and discuss my treatment plan and that I will be in ‘good hands’.   He asked if I was okay and if there was anything I needed to say, and all I could mumble out was,  ” I’ll have a meltdown later”.

He left me with a stack of papers that had my diagnosis and all the information that I was going to need.  Rosie, the assistant, contacted the oncologist and the surgeon and they will be in touch with me soon.  She gave me a moment and walked me out.  I was still in total disbelief and shock, walking out the door. 

Once again, I’m sitting in my car.  This time with the news of me having breast cancer.  How did this come to be?  I’m really shaking.  My heart is in my throat and I think I’m choking on it.  Still, I have no tears to shed.  I pull out my phone and text my bestie and all I put was,

“Penny. . . . . my news isn’t good.”

Penny, is my very best friend.  I have know her for 25 years!  Seems like forever!  She is the sister I never had.  She knows just about everything about me, I tell her everything.   I tell her my happy news, sad news, funny news,  psychotic news, you name it.  We laugh at the stupidest things.   I tell her that we’re gonna be friends til we’re old and senile than we can become new friends.    She has seen me go through some of my worst times and no matter what, she is always there.  I just love her!  She IS my sister.   So, of course, she’s known all about this pain and lump and everything that I’ve been feeling since day 1.  She knows all about my ordeal and how I got to this day.

I left the parking lot and drove myself home.  How I even got there, I have no idea.  It was all a fog.   And all I could think once again was,  ” I need my Mom, I need both of my parents.  I need my Pops.  I don’t have either one of them, but I need them both right now.  Oh, how I need my parents!!  I don’t wanna do this alone. ”  😭

I got home, let myself in, went straight to the bathroom and blew my guts out.  My stomach was so unsettled.   I noticed Penny had sent several messages.  Messages like,  “Suzanne, what’s going on?”  “What’s happening?”  “Sue, are you okay?”

Me,  ” My biopsy came back positive.”

Her,  ” What?! “

I gather myself together and call her.   And with a voice as low as ever I went on to explain what the doctor had told me.  She couldn’t believe it!  Frankly, neither could I, even with the papers in front of me.  But she’s uplifting and positive,  like she always is, and told me that I was strong and that I ( we ) were gonna get through this.  Whatever it takes, I was gonna make it out the other end.  I needed to hear that.  But I was still in such a shock.  She reminded me that I had God in my life and people who loved me very much and that I was gonna get through this.  I did believe that.  We ended our conversation and I had a minor meltdown.   For some reason I just couldn’t cry it out.   I picked myself up, dusted off, managed to put on my happy face and waited for my son to come home from school.   I didn’t tell him a single thing and he suspected nothing.   All I had on my mind was, I have cancer,   how am I going to tell him?   How do I break that news to him?  I could never break his heart and this will break it.  How do I tell my brothers?  How do I tell anyone?

Later that day I spoke to one of my Aunties’.  We stay in touch all the time.  She is one of my Dads sisters’ and we talk almost daily.   She asked how my day was and I told her, “not so good.”   I hadn’t discussed my mammy or my biopsy with her and figured it was time to share.  I couldn’t bring myself to tell her my news but I did tell her that the findings on my mammy and biopsy were concerning and I was just waiting for my results even though I already had them.  I told her I should know by tomorrow.   I know I lied, but I just couldn’t get the words out of my mouth.  They were stuck in there and they didn’t want to come out.   She said that no matter what the news, she and the rest of the family would be behind me.   I hung up the phone with her feeling so guilty.    

I went about the rest of my day as if nothing had happened.  No, I didn’t tell my son.  No, I didn’t tell anyone.  At that moment, the only ones who knew were my bestie and her husband.   Later that afternoon she invited my son and I to dinner to get my mind off of things.   We went.  It was just what I needed.  Good company and other things to talk about.  Nothing was really said about my day.  We just enjoyed it, although I felt zombielike.   It didn’t seem like my world.    After we left I sent her a message,  ” Thanks for always being there!  Help me to stay positive and to not think the worst, you know how my mind gets carried away.  You’re the best!  I love you.  Don’t let me get depressed.”

My son and I came home.  I was mentally exhausted.  My heart was in turmoil.  I needed someone to talk to about it, someone who had been through it.  I needed guidance, reassurance, something.  I reached out to a friend I went to high school with, Tammy-Lou.  She herself had gone through her own scary journey and I followed it, for she posted it on facebook.  My heart was crushed when she announced her news and said she was going to need chemo.   She too, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.   I remembered sending her positive thoughts and prayers and reminding her that she would get through it and she did.  So I reached out.  I needed her at that moment.  I needed her to walk me through it.  To tell me what to expect.  I’m sure she felt the same way I did when I told her my news.  And bam, just like that, she was there.  Ready and willing to help in any way.   Tammy, I’m so glad you were there for me.  I was going out of my mind.   Tammy, you reminded me that as scary as it was going to be to just. . . breathe, take it one foot in front of the other and just breathe.  To take a few minutes out of my day just for me.   Make sure to take care of myself mentally and physically and to take care of my boy.  Stay strong, you would always be there  💚💚.  I love you for that!!

Later, Dominic and I got ready for bed.  Nothing was said and no, I didn’t tell him anything.

With a goodnight kiss,  ” Goodnight my Lovey!  I love you to pieces!” 

My heart broke.  It broke for this little person that soon was gonna get horrible news about his Mama.  News that I was gonna give him.  News that was gonna leave both of our future’s uncertain.

I laid in bed with my son on my mind and a zillion other things.

I didn’t sleep a wink. . . . . . . . . . 

 

 

Time to get Poppin’

Feb. 10th – 

Biopsy day

Well, here I am.  It’s biopsy day and I’m trying to be calm and collected but I have butterflies.  And all the pain from the week before hadn’t really eased up.  The area was still very aggravated and very painful, even swollen from all that darn squeezing.   I get the ultrasound tech from the week before.  Yay.  I really liked her, she was great.   The reason I got her again was because this was gonna be an ultrasound guided biopsy to pinpoint the exact area that needs to be tested.   Here we go again.  It’s gonna be painful.  She sends me to change.   As I return, she’s unwrapping all the tools form their sterilized packaging and setting them about the rolling table the doctor will use.   I caught a glimpse of those tools and couldn’t help but become fixated on a somewhat fat needle that was at least 10 inches long!   *gulp*  What the heck??   I tell her with my sarcastic self, “well, that doesn’t look intimidating at all!”  She says, “just try not to look at it”.   Well, it’s a little too late for that.  It’s all laid out in front of me.  

The doctor comes in who’s going to perform the biopsy,  he’s nice.   He has a jokey side to himself.   This is calming.  At least he’s not so serious.    I get positioned on the examining table and he explains the procedure.  He’s gonna clean and numb the area with a local anesthetic, lidocain.   He’s gonna give me shots in the surrounding area and also inside.   He goes on to explain the actual procedure and what sounds I will hear.   When he takes a sample of the tissue the needle will give off a popping sound, similar to a pop gun.  He will let me know when this is going to happen.  He will need to take at least 3 samples.  I’m given the anesthetic.  I feel the small needle pricks, not so bad.   But I really feel the one that has to be inserted all the way into the breast.  Ouchie.   Also, too, because the tech had to push down on the ultrasound wand to get the best image for the doctor.  This really hurts.   And if I hadn’t said it before,  I’m no baby when it comes to pain, I’m actually pretty tough.   So, when I complain about pain, you know it’s hurting me. 

I keep my eyes glued to the monitor and he gets ready to begin.   He presses around my breast to make sure it is numb enough.   It feels numb to the touch.  He inserts the biopsy needle from the outer part of my breast.  Holy heck!   It is not numb on the inside.   I feel that sucker go all the way in and I tense up.   I see the needle on the monitor and it made it’s way to the black blob on the screen.  He’s gonna count to 3 and take a sample.  

1. . . . .2. . . . . 3. . . . . POP!!  Oh my Lord,  I jumped and just about flew off of that table!!   That popping noise seemed to echo through the walls.   He pressed on the area and asked if I was okay.   It hurt like hell and I told him it was painful.   He gave me more numbing medicine and waited a bit.   Sample 2, again,   1. . . . 2. . . . 3. . . . POP!   That popping noise to me was just traumatizing.   That wasn’t as painful but it was uncomfortable and by the time the 3rd one was done, I didn’t feel it at all.   He’s all done.  He explains the ‘at home’ aftercare.  I’m bandaged up with steri strips and guaze, told I was gonna have bruising and of course, pain and discomfort.  The tech gave me water and tylenol and a nice ice pack to take home.  Since it was Friday my results probably wouldn’t be in until Tuesday, they would call me.   I leave with a sigh of relief for the reason that it was finally over.  

I get in my car and text my bestie,  Penny,  ” that was the scariest procedure I’ve ever had done!”  😟

Her,   “are you okay?’

I didn’t feel okay.   There was a nervousness that kept taunting me. 

I drive home and have an all out meltdown.    I need my Mom.  😭  I don’t have my Mom, I lost her when I was 22 years old and I don’t have sisters.  I really, really need my Mom right now.   She needs to go through this with me.  I don’t wanna do this by myself.   I NEED her!  I get home, walk through the door and straight to the bathroom.  I just had to blow chunks.   My meltdown continued and my need for my Mom was stronger than ever.  

Me to Penny,  “I’m a bit better, I have lots of pain.  I came home and had a meltdown”

Penny,  ” Ohh Sue!  I pray you feel better.  Love you, Suzanne!  I don’t like when you’re in pain”.   

Me,  ” I’ll be okay.  I’m a tough girl.  I had a meltdown cuz it’s times like these I wish I still had my Mom.    Pain won’t last forever.”

My weekend went by in a blur

 

 

 

It’s time to get smashed! Yay!!! NOT!

Feb 3 – 

Mammy day

I go into to get my girls checked.   This is all routine for me, so I’m not nervous at all.   I get called to the back, I change, and I’m off to get squeezed.  I’m not looking forward to this at all, cuz it hurts already to get squeezed, but this time I have pain, so this is gonna hurt like hell!

My technician comes in, she seems nice.  She gets me ready, she puts a sticker on my painful area just so she can target that area more to see what’s going on.

Smashing time – yuck.  She gets me in the machine, does my left side first.  Eh, it hurt, but it wasn’t so bad.  All done.   Oh gosh, time for the right side.  I’m really dreading this.  I go on to tell her how painful the area already is and that this is gonna hurt.   She tells me, “she understands, she gets her boobs smashed all the time like every other female”.  For some reason, I don’t like how she told me that and that just bugged the living shit out of me.  

We do the same thing on my right side and get to squeezing.   Holy effing balls!!  ( excuse the language ).  It hurt to high heaven!   It hurt so bad that I jolted back a bit, causing breast tissue to come out of the machine and the sticker falling off, this bugged her to no end.   And with that, we had to do it again.   Now, we can’t get the sticker back in the right place.  And I just hurt!   She starts squeezing again.  Eff me.    This time, I could’t take it, she squeezed and the tears just rolled down my face.   “Hold your breath, don’t breathe”  ( machine takes picture, releases )  “okay, you can breathe now, are you okay?”   Me – with tears strolling down my face and a low voice,  😢  ” yes, I’m okay.”  trying to catch my breath.  I’m not really okay.  I hurt really, really bad and I kept telling her this.  But that didn’t seem to matter to her.  She was doing her job.  You see, there are people that do their job and their are people who do their job with love, compassion and kindness and she wasn’t any of those.  She was just doing her job.   Now to do a different angle.   Oh gosh, we’re not done?  Same outcome and lots of pain and a technician who had no heart.  

I was sent out to the waiting room while they looked over my films.  Throbbing pain.   I really disliked her and her comments on how ‘every female had to go through this’.  Well, no shit!!   I felt like telling her,  “bet you’ve never had your girls smashed with a painful ass lump??”  😠  I don’t like to be negative, but honestly, she was awful.  Very careless.  No concern for her patient.

Now they wanna do an ultrasound.  They need better imaging of what they found on the films.   So, I get sent in to do that.   The ultrasound tech was full of understanding after I told her how much pain I was in from the mammy.   And that this was gonna be painful cuz the area was already aggravated.  She really took this into consideration.  So, as she was performing the ultrasound, she did try to be gentle but still getting the job done, yes, there were times she had to press firmly but at least she would warm me.   After a few moments, my eyes caught sight of the monitor and all I could see was this black blob.  That’s all it was, a ‘blob’.   She concentrated on that area and took many images.    As she studied what I was looking at, I noticed that there were no smooth edges.  It was out of proportion to a cyst, which I’ve come to see quite often with my history.   It had rough edges. This bothered me very much.  She went on to scan under my armpit cuz we have lymph nodes there that feed off of the breast.    She didn’t say a word, she was keenly focused on what she was doing.  After many images, she was done.   She cleaned me off and allowed me to get dressed while she went to get the doctor.  I asked her how it looked, but I knew better.   Per their strict policies, they are not allowed to discuss what they see or find.  But her face said a lot.  

A few moments later, she returned with the doctor.  The doctor went on to say that the area in question was concerning and that it needed further follow up.    A biopsy.  *gulp*  a biopsy??  If you’re anything like me, the mere mention of a biopsy could only mean cancer.   My mind started spinning and panic came on.  I went on to plead my case, saying that I get fibroid cysts all the time and that this could just be another one.  She answered with, ” it doesn’t have the characteristics of a cyst, which are ‘smooth round edges'”.   She went on to say exactly what I had seen,  “it has rough edges,  But it’s better to be sure”.  She didn’t think it was anything to worry about and it was probably nothing, but best to do a biopsy cuz she’s a doctor who looks for cancer and wants to rule that out.  

I agreed and the technician already had my appointment set up for the following week for a biopsy of my right breast.  Now I was getting worried.  Something in the pit of my stomach wasn’t easing my worried thoughts.  I need a biopsy??  On my breast??  What?? I’ve never had one of those.  

My nerves are very unsettled