April 27, 2013

Double Whammy (Part 2)

My wonderful husband came up the stairs right away to hug me and tell me that he took the afternoon off so he could come with me to the hospital. I was very relieved that they got me in as soon as they did because waiting to find out what in the heck is going on is torture.

After bringing my husband up to speed I Skyped with my BFF in Belgium who assured me that everything was going to be okay. She said that they just want to take more pictures so they can see what they need to see. She helped to ease my mind a bit by explaining the classification numbers to me. Apparently you are classified 1-5 with 4 being suspicious and 5 being cancer. We then discussed what she had been through and what her mom had been through and how wonderful her Mom is doing 5 years out.

I then called my sister-in-law who I knew would completely kick my butt if she had to hear about what was happening to me second hand. I’m not gonna lie, I cried. I cried when I talked to my BFF and I cried when I talked to my sister-in-law. I was scared. What do I do when I’m scared? I cry. She continued to reassure me that they are just running more tests and they want to see what they need to see. I also called my mother-in-law who also reassured me even though she herself had not had a biopsy on anything ever, she had been asked to come back a second time many times to take a closer look and stated that was pretty standard.

Then before I went to bed I called my BFF in Texas who has been my BFF since we were 12 years old. That was a HARD conversation to have and yes, I cried. Of course I cried because cancer is a tough conversation to have and I know how hard this would be for her to hear about all this from me because she had lost both her parents at young ages to cancer. But, I know deep down she wanted me to tell her about all of it so she could pray for me. She said everything she could to reassure me that they were just going to run more tests.

You know, I have to say that it really sucks when the hospital calls you at home and they can’t really talk to you about what’s going on over the phone. You’d think after all the privacy papers I’ve filled out that they could at least handle that initial call a little better. But, in their defense when you have to tell a patient the doctor saw something and needs to take more pictures what else could they have said? It’s only obvious they want you to come back because something doesn’t look right. She couldn’t tell me which side because then that crosses into the doctor’s area. But, come on – there had to be a better way to break it to me.

Then there is my brave Aunt. What an amazing faithful woman she is. I couldn’t help but to think of her when she first found out she needed to have her breast removed in her early 70’s. I know she was scared. But, through it all she remained steadfast. She told me at that time whatever happens whether in this life or the next God always provides us with a safe landing. You know what? She is right on!! Incidentally, she did have to have her other breast removed. Today she is healing and cancer-free so that’s good! I am grateful to my Aunt because she was able to help me fill in the blanks as far as family medical history goes. It’s important to have as many family history facts as you can because that can sometimes be a problem solver.

So, the next day Don and I drove to the hospital for my follow-up appointment. A completely different technician took me back and the pictures were completely different. There was a different machine, different positions, and closer images. This makes mammogram #5 at the young and tender age of 43.

After those images were taken the doctor called both Don and I back to his office where he showed us what he was looking at. He began to explain that previously he had seen a white mass on my right breast. He actually pulled out that picture and showed it to us. Yep, there was a white mass on my right breast. At this point I teared up. The doc grabbed my hand and told me not to worry because the new picture, the close-up picture, the most current picture that he showed me indicated NO WHITE MASS on my right breast. Where did that mass go? There is no explanation. The only thing I can muster up is the right people, including myself, were praying like there was no tomorrow for healing, wisdom, and answers. You know, I’d like to think that suspicious white mass he saw was just my breast tissue, or maybe it was a smudge on the machine? He showed it to me. I saw it with my own eyes. And then I saw with my own eyes the white mass not being anywhere in the most current pictures. Perhaps it was a modern day miracle? All I could think of for a split second was: BUT GOD. Either way I am grateful and thankful there was no more white mass to see.

Then the doctor showed me all the little dots scattered through my breast tissue. Those are called calcifications. Apparently, the doc likes to see them spread out and not in a cluster. The largest calcification that we saw was about 2 mm. The rest of them were 1 mm or less. He then explained to me that they would be keeping an eye on these calcifications and that he wants me to come back for another mammogram in 6 months. He then dived into the classification numbers that my BFF in Belgium was telling me about. There is 1-5 he said with 1 & 2 being almost impossible for anyone to achieve at my age, 3 is pretty normal with calcifications that need to be monitored, 4 is suspicious with a biopsy needed, and 5 is cancer. He then said told me yesterday I was a suspicious 4 with a white mass and today I am a clear 3. I was overjoyed!!

I asked him to show me a picture of a breast that had cancer in it and he could not because of dumb HIPPA but he did take the time to draw some cancer for me on a piece of paper so I could get an idea of what it looks like. We then talked about the fact that I had a double whammy with my OBGYN who he said is wonderful when it comes to figuring out what’s going on inside the body. I let him know to please check with him because we were waiting on more blood work to rule out uterine cancer and to find out if I am premenopausal. We talked about my thyroid problem. We talked about my lungs. He assured me there is no cancer in my body and that having me come back in six months is completely precautionary because he just wants to keep an eye on those calcifications to see if they change much between now and then. But, when we compared the pictures from today to the pictures from 2010 it shows the calcifications relatively the same in size and shape. So we are good and he told me absolutely not to worry. What a RELIEF!!

By the time Don and I got home from the hospital appointment I had received a call from my OBGYN’s nurse that my blood work came back and everything is fine. My blood work showed that I am premenopausal which explains why I haven’t had a period since last November. Because of that my doctor does not need to put me on medicine to make me have a period after all. The nurse did tell me that if and when I do have a period I’m supposed to give them a call because my OBGYN is going to want me to come in but not to worry. It’s all standard routine follow-up by the OBGYN. That sounds good to me!!

Incidentally, we talked about the fact that my thyroid is putting my body into a tailspin. We talked about the fact that I am having a hard time getting the weight off, too. He encouraged me to do a lot of walking and strength training. I’m going to need weights because my muscles are confused. As far as hormone replacement goes, I decided I’m not doing any of that. I don’t need to. At this point the only side effect of being premenopausal that I’m experiencing are the hot flashes, which I can stand, and no periods, which I cannot complain about. Who doesn’t like not having a period at the young and tender age of 43?

It’s so important to stay on top of your yearly screenings. OBGYN docs and BREAST docs know what they are doing and what they are looking for. Your FAMILY doc knows about everything else, too. See your doctor and please do NOT wait until you are 50 to have a mammogram. It’s important to have that initial picture so the doc has something to compare the rest of the pictures to. Screenings save lives people!!! Do not hesitate to stay on top of your check-ups. If you have a history of breast issues in your family you need to tell them so they can take precautionary steps to keep an extra-special closer-than-normal eye on you.

I don’t have Uterine Cancer.

I don’t have Breast Cancer.

What a seriously crazy roller coaster of a week!! I’m glad it’s over. In my next post I will share some of the things I focused on to help me get through the 24 hour waiting period between the two appointments. Thanks for being patient with my longer-than-normal-sized blog posts. XOXOX

4 comments:

  1. I am sorry to hear about the terrible scare...and equally pleased to hear the outcome!

    I had a lump–a big one– in my breast at age 29 (am now almost 42). I was flipping out. I underwent surgery and, it turns out, the lump was "normal fibro-cystic activity." I really learned that when it comes to breast health it is important to overreact or catastrophize. Seriously. Lumps, bumps *oh my* tend to be benign. Please take it from me: don't overreact when/if the doctors want "further tests." Glad to hear it's all A-OK.

    Also, I totally hear you on your thyroid. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a couple of years ago and am now on synthroid (the sad and worrisome part is that I probably had this underactive thyroid for years and did not k now about it). I just went back for testing and I'm pretty sure there's going to be issues. I've been incredible stressed, anxious and tired and my thyroid has felt like an avocado pit sitting in my throat. Sigh.

    Anyhow, kiddo, so so glad to hear you're doing fine. Just wanted to send you feel good vibes and empathy from another breast bumpy and crazy thyroid gal.

    All my best, Rach

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  2. Important NOT to overreact...oops. sorry. Rach

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  3. So happy to hear that everything came back normal!!!

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  4. Thanks Rach! I take Synthroid every day, too! I’m just super relieved that my doc wants to monitor my calcifications. I’m really glad I got to see them for myself, too.

    Thank You Jessie! I’m relieved that I am classified a 3 and not a 4 or 5. It’s a little rattling to be a 4 and suspicious one day and a 3 the next but that’s okay, I will take it!

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Thanks for the comment