Date: March 8, 2024

My Diagnosis

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This first blog post takes you back to the beginning. My hope, as I begin to share my story is the same as others who have done the same, to raise awareness and hopefully help others.

A woman is taking a selfie in a living room after receiving a diagnosis.

If you are reading this, you are most likely coming from my post, or maybe you randomly found this page. No matter how you got here, welcome to my little section of the internet. Here I am sharing my breast cancer story going back to the beginning.

My story started in the middle of October 2023. I was at my annual physical when my doctor and I were talking, and she noticed that I had not had my annual mammogram. She asked if I wanted her to write an order for one. Initially, I said no, I already had an order from my other annual appointment and I just hadn't gotten it scheduled.

After I declined, my doctor followed it up with how easy it was at their new facility. Scheduling would call to set up the appointment and I wouldn't have to do anything but answer my phone. For some reason, that sounded good, and something in my gut also told me to just accept the offer. In hindsight, I am relieved that my doctor didn't take no for an answer and that my gut told me to say yes!

To those who know me, it might surprise you to hear that I have not had a mammogram before this. Especially since my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. Instead of a mammogram, before this, I had done a thermal imaging scan of my entire body about a year and a half ago. That scan showed no cancer in my entire body so in addition to feeling good, I just wasn't that worried.

I also knew that my sister had done genetic testing and had no BRCA gene or genetic markers for cancer, so in my mind, plus my age, and my parent's health the odds of me getting cancer were about as slim to none as they could be. It would only be later that I would find out that in today's day and age, not having the BRCA marker doesn't mean what I thought it did, and cancer is unpredictable.

About a week after my appointment with my doctor, imaging called to schedule my mammogram. I went to the appointment without any concerns, but little did I know that night would be the last that my life was "normal." The imaging tech and I discussed what would happen during the appointment since it was my first mammogram. My appointment was quick, uncomfortable at best, and at 3 pm I was walking back out the door. I had checked a to-do off the list and was feeling good, that was all the energy I gave it.

Fast forward to the next morning at 8:30 am, I was in my office and my phone rang, it was my healthcare facility. I instantly knew something popped on my mammogram. Somehow I also knew that the chips were not going to fall how I wanted them to. Normally I am a pretty optimistic person, but my gut instincts are good and my gut was telling my brain what it didn't want to hear.

I excused myself from the conversation and answered the call. They let me know that a spot had been detected and they needed to get me in for a sonogram ASAP. Sitting there, a little bewildered, but allowing my instincts to take over and move in a forward motion I said ok, let's get it scheduled. The woman on the other end of the phone told me that "scheduling to call me." At that moment I was a little more bewildered and asked her why she couldn't schedule me. To which she politely responded, "That's not what I do."

If you are as surprised by that response as I was, buckle up, because I had no idea how often I would hear some version of this statement throughout all this! Within an hour, scheduling called and told me that I could get in the following week for my sonogram. Even though I took the appointment, in my mind, I thought A WEEK?!?? Do I seriously have to wait a week to see what this is? Then, thankfully, the magic of the universe came through and another local provider had an opening for that very afternoon, at 1 pm and I took it.

As the tech was finishing my sonogram that afternoon, the radiologist came in to visit with me. Every instinct in me to think positive, that it wasn't cancer, was sucked out of me like the air in the room. I worked in healthcare long enough to be dangerous and I also know how to read the situation when someone knows more than they are telling you.

Don't get me wrong, I tried to tell the radiologist what it was. Oh, doctor, I had a really hard fall a few months ago so it is probably from that! I am sure he was thinking this is 100% NOT from a fall, but he stayed focused looking at the images on the screen. I knew I was grasping at straws, but I had to, maybe it was me trying to manifest the outcome I wanted, I don't know!

Plus, this couldn't be happening, I had plans! The radiologist's response was flat and to the point, "you have a mass that needs to be biopsied." I thought, "Shit," but my response was simply, okay. What else can you say besides the previously mentioned, "Shit!" I know it is brash, but it fits, and I firmly believe that sometimes cursing does help.

Again I waited for the scheduler to call me to set up my biopsy and I thought to myself, do I tell people about this? Of course, I had told my husband and my business partner because I needed coverage at work, but what would I even say to my friends and family? Do I want to give the people who love me something to worry about? No, absolutely not, that answer was easy. From that moment it was decided, I wouldn't say anything. After all, this was just something from a fall a few months ago. I will tell them when I get the all-clear!

My biopsy appointment came a short time later on November 1st, 2023. While it was a little nerve-racking, it was virtually painless. The doctor and tech were amazing. They kept me informed and explained everything that was happening and made sure I was comfortable the entire time. After the biopsy portion was over, I went in for another mammogram. This mammogram would show the marker, or "clip" as they call it that had been placed inside my tumor. After the mammogram was finished, I headed home to rest and wait.

Confirmation came quickly, in fact, the next day. On Nov. 2nd, I was at a client appreciation party when my phone rang. It was my primary care physician calling. I could tell by the tone of her voice that the news was not good. She informed me that I have Stage 2, Infiltrating Ductile Carcinoma. We talked briefly, and I asked her about the next steps. She said she would refer me to a surgeon and we would go from there.

After I hung up the phone and called my husband, I knew that I had dodged the inevitable for as long as I could. I had no choice, I had to begin telling people. Ironically telling people, was the one thing I knew for sure I did not want to do! I never want to cause people to worry, mostly because I know that worrying is the most wasted emotion, but mostly because I knew how lucky I was and how much worse my diagnosis could have been.

For anyone reading to this point, I know what you might be thinking. I know what has been said to me since but we all have to walk in this life how we feel is best for us. Whether people found out a day, week, or month later, it was not going to change the results or my treatment plan. What was going to change was the knowledge I could provide them when I delivered the information.

We all have so much going on in our lives and I wanted to be clear-headed and calm when I shared the news with them. That meant slowing down, processing the information, and also being able to answer initial questions. I wanted them to know that even though this is scary, let's be thankful for what it is and that it was going to be ok. So many of us have been affected by cancer, and there are so many who are not as lucky as I was, this was something I wanted to be respectful of as well.

I hope to add more next week for those who wish to follow along as I share my story, you can either check back or follow the blog on social media. I will share when the next entry has been uploaded, since this is not my day job it takes some time to transfer from paper to the blog. My goal for sharing is like most, to spread awareness and to hopefully help others who also might be going through this.

Next Entry: Telling my loved ones...

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