My eyes went wide. I inhaled a quick, short breath and held it. I shuttered as I felt a lump on my left breast while I showered. "Oh my God," I silently said to myself. Scared, I promised myself I'd call my doctor as soon as I could, and then continued my routine as usual.
The next day, I immediately made an appt. to see my gynecologist. When I went to see him, he agreed, I needed a Mammogram. Something, I'm ashamed to say, I'd never done, but at 34 years of age, I was told I didn't need one until I turned 40. But I did the deed even though I'd heard it feels like slamming your breast in the refrigerator door. (They were right!)
A week later, I went in for my mammogram. I sat in the waiting room after it was done, watching all the other women there, all much older than me, waiting their turn, reading magazines. This was just another annual thing for them. Or so it seemed. The one woman, 71 years old, was bold enough to share that she was engaged to a really wonderful man, of 80. How inspirational, I thought. I was then taken to another room for an ultrasound. Dr. Nicholson came in and as she began talking, she explained everything to me. Every step of the way. What she was doing and why. She showed me the lump on my left breast on the ultrasound screen and pointed to a very black, round area. "It's a cyst," she told me, which is very normal. She actually thought it was a very pretty thing to see.
However, the right side was what concerned her. She showed me the right side on the screen and two very gray, cloudy areas. She said she wanted to biopsy them, but to keep in mind that 80% of biopsies they do are clean.
I went in for the biopsy about a week later. All I asked was that they numbed me well, which they did. It wasn't a bad experience, but then again, I'd been through worse biopsies before. They made a small incision and inserted a large needle into the gray areas and after hearing a machine make loud ticking noises, I felt what could only be described as someone flicking me. They did that 6 times, 3 times from each gray area.
The next day, I received a phone call. I didn't fall into that 80th percentile group. It was breast cancer. My whole world came crashing down. I couldn't hear a word the Dr. was telling me, but I knew she was saying something. It just all blurred into nothing. I couldn't speak. All I could think about was that I have breast cancer. I'm suddenly pulled back into the conversation when I hear her ask me, "Are you ok?" I murmurred mmhmm, but it was still too much to speak. I hung up the phone, not knowing what she really told me. It all seemed pointless.
On June 24, 2009, at 34-years of age, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma of the right breast, stage 3. I underwent a mastectomy with removal of 19 lymph nodes and a 6 cm tumor on September 11, 2009. I opted for the immediate reconstruction with an expander inserted at the time of surgery. I had three drains that were really uncomfortable, a bit embarrassing, but necessary. I began chemotherapy on November 6, 2009. My oncologist had told me at that time that I was healed enough to begin the chemo. I went through 8 treatments under the "ACT" program: 4 doses of Adriamycin & Cytoxan every other week and then 4 doses of Taxol every other week. My final chemo treatment was held on January 28, 2010. I then began radiation therapy of the area in February, finishing on April 16, 2010. The reconstruction of the breast was affected by the radiated tissue so some complications did come into play and I am still today, waiting for my final reconstructive surgery to take place. I will continue to take 25mg of Tamoxifen for the next few years.
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