At the end of April, 2013, I made a self discovery I wish I had never learned. It wasn’t something like I had to admit I love scrapbooking or that beer is far superior to wine – it was that a single drop of bloody puss was coming out of my left breast. There were no lumps, or bumps, no rashes or excruciating pains. There was just this single drop of something milky with a blood tinge.
I knew it was bad – I’m an RN. Option #1: trauma (nope), Option #2: infection (nope), Option #3: cancer (yep).
I made an appointment with my gynecologist for my favorite annual healthcare event (go pap-smears!) and discuss this little drop of blood tinged mystery.
After Dr. Quick Draw McGraw finished my pap in record time she sent me straight to the breast clinic where I was greated with the gold standard of healthcare smiles, invited to fill out paperwork, and instructed to wait.
I read about how to lose 12 lbs in a week.
I waited again.
Finally, just as my right butt cheek went numb I was called back! I followed the lab coat back to a private room – a crisp white room that could act as a perfect blank pallet for a designer, where I would be felt up by a PA that earned her special clinical breast exam pin and wore it proudly on her lapel. She did her routine and said I was ok to go home as she didn’t find any discharge, but there was a mass she’d like me to have a mammogram done on in my right breast “in the future.” I requested permission to attempt to get a drop of the substance in question. Permission granted, and Lo! Got it on the first try!
Suddenly I was an urgent case to have a mammogram and ultrasound. One image turned to two, then four, then magnification. Tech went to check with the radiologist and came back for one, two, three more magnifications.
Off to the ultrasound room. Same song and dance. Only I didn’t get the gold standard smile with the greeting. I was told, “Please do not ask any questions. I will not answer any you have. Even if they are yes or no, I will not answer your questions.” Okay, no questions. Got it.
After being rubbed on by the magic ultrasound wand, the tech met with the radiologist and came back. We needed more again. This time she was a bit friendlier, “You’re handling this way better than I would be if I were in your shoes.”
That kinda gave me a clue, and so I got dressed and was escorted back to the mammogram chamber. The tech handed me a box of tissues and didn’t say a word. I looked at her and said, “That bad, huh?” The radiologist rubbed his head and said he was sorry and that he was really worrie and started to tell me why. What looked like an aerial view of a city at night was my breast tissue. This wasn’t good. The marshmallow he pointed out to me was one of my lymph nodes. This wasn’t good.
I didn’t process any of it.
Next week were the biopsies that hurt like hell. A few days later grandma died, then Thursday I got the call. Stage 2 DCIS.
May 28, 2013 modified radical mastectomy with lymph node dissection. Chemo started 3 weeks later. Round 2 is done and this is where our journey, the one with you and I begins.