How my journey started…November 2012

Me and My Rock!

Me and My Rock!

11.16.12: First off let me start off saying that I NEVER thought I had cancer. Did I think something wasn’t normal yes, but I just thought ..no, not me I’m too young. At the age 27, I found the lump. I was laying down watching tv and felt a bump on my right breast at the bottom. I am not much of a hypochondriac and for years and years never even had health insurance. 2 years ago I decided to get it just in case…I don’t always feel like I have the best of luck but I always say, “if you don’t have it you’ll need it and if you have it you, you won’t”..option 2 was the wiser so that is what I did. Never thought I would need it until I got pregnant so I went with a lessor insurance plan with BCBS. I was wrong..right to get it, but wrong to underestimate.

Always a girls question: How do you know what you are feeling for? Simple, normally you don’t know what you are looking for and this, this was definitely something. It felt like it was the size of jelly bean perhaps? I didn’t say anything at the time to my boyfriend but just sat and thought about it…..it was a Friday and I decided I would wait until Monday to get it looked at…over the weekend I became more and more worried it just kept popping in my head. Monday I told my Mom and got the OBGYN to squeeze me in.

I saw a Dr. I haven’t been to before since mine was no longer at the practice and well, I hadn’t been in a few years.. The Doc knew why I was there and did the breast exam of both breasts. She couldn’t find the lump and asked me to show her where it was. I know that it’s my body so I can notice it easier but this lump was very easy to feel out and that’s when I began to feel a bit skeptical about the PA examining me. She then let me get dressed and told me that she was sure it was nothing, I was so young and it was so unlikely that I could just keep an eye on it or come back in a month after my next cycle or if I really wanted to go get an ultrasound. I obviously chose ultrasound, saying that since I have insurance it would be silly not to..get peace of mind. I’m in Real Estate and one thing I have learned that never just take someone’s word, especially someone you don’t trust..you verify, verify, verify ESPECIALLY when there a ways to do it easily. I knew if I left assuming it was nothing I would have talked myself out of thinking it was anything to worry about and written it off a a normal tumor or lump girls our age get called, “Fibroadenoma.” I know because I immediately googled what are the signs of breast cancer, of course!

The following week I went for the Ultrasound. I went into the second waiting room and a nurse asked me if I was there for a mammogram and I said yes. A few minutes later I was told that I wasn’t there for a mammo I was there for an ultra sound..I didn’t even know the difference..I was definitely in the dark and had up to that point done no real research. As usual the ultrasound tech can’t tell you while you are in the room having it done what they are seeing on the screen so you have to sit there wondering but I asked a few general questions like, what is the difference between a mammo and an ultrasound and she told me that a mammo was normally done first but since I was young and my tissue was so dense that they go straight to the ultrasound, which made sense. I also asked her what she was looking for and what she was hoping NOT to find. She said that moveable is good but hard was not.

This didn’t sit easy with me while I waiting for the tech to get the results back knowing that mine was yes, moveable but yes, hard too. Then before I knew it she was back and let me know that they were going to do now do a mammogram too and that they had to call my Dr. Office to get approval so insurance would pay for it and lead me to another private little room.

This was the first time I really got scared.  I knew that didn’t make sense..going to extra trouble calling was not normal protocol. I had tears just well up and came down uncontrollably. I did not want them to see me cry and I didn’t know how to pull myself together. I picked up a magazine held it in the air (I had to look up to stop the tears) and tried to preoccupy my mind.

The mammo was done and I left, the second I got out the front door the tears resurfaced. I made it to my car and called my mom explaining my experience. She talked me down and told me that no matter what my family would be there and to go spend time with my friends and relax. I did and it helped for the time being.

NEW RULE: NEVER EVER, EVER GO TO ANY DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS LIKE THIS ALONE. I’m not a whiner and not the type that needs my hand held usually but in these times you are so vulnerable and don’t even know it.

The test was on a Friday so, naturally I had to wait longer for the results and they said most likely it would be Wednesday so on Wednesday the day before thanksgiving I waited and waited. Around 3pm the Dr called me and sounded a bit hesitant.  She said she contemplated waiting until after the holiday to call me so I wouldn’t worry but the results came back “suspicious” and that I needed to be directed to a surgeon to get a biopsy but not to worry b/c she was still sure it was nothing.

Needless to say, I was worried and I was not happy she contemplated not telling meaning that any necessary treatments would be postponed and knowing that I would worry anyway.

Thanksgiving Oyster Roast after the Feast!

Thanksgiving Oyster Roast after the Feast!

11.28: I went to see Dr. Scott for the Biopsy with my Mom, randomly finding out that she had sold him his first home when he moved to Wilmington 20 years ago. He was very nice, realistic and straightforward. He did a breast exam and immediately found the lump, continued to check both breast and decided to do an ultrasound of both breasts and told me what he saw. He let me know I had multiple lumps on both breast and that the others were small. Normally one would think more is worse but in this case it was good. It meant that they were likely to come and go with my cycle. He was to see the change in them compared to the one I found, wanting them all to disappear or shrink and told me to come back after my next cycle. Opting not to do a biopsy that day. He said it was most likely fibroadenoma, most common in my age group and not cancerous.

I remembered that I had just ended my cycle when I went to Delaney Radiology and asked him if it had shrunk since that time, he looked and said no. I wasn’t excited about that but I trusted him and knew that he needed the contrast for the next step.

..life goes on as normal..in the mean time and I went on Vacation with my friends to the Virgin Islands. The way I thought about it was, there is nothing I can do about it if it is something and worrying can’t help..that’s what I kept telling myself but being that far from home made me realize just how stressed I was on the inside.

Flying to the Virgin Islands!

Flying to the Virgin Islands!

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12.19 I was back again. It had been a while and this had been waying on my mind but it wasn’t exactly on the forefront. I just told myself that I couldn’t worry about it when I didn’t know if there was anything to worry about. I needed results. He did the breast exam followed by the ultrasound and then let me know that all the others had gone away but this one remained and was the same side and did a needle biopsy, pulling out a little tissue so the lab could test it.

12.21 two days later he called with my results. Straightforward let me know that the pathologist didn’t see the most common cell in fibroadenoma called staghorn and they said there were more cells than they would have liked to see. I asked him, “is that a sign of what we don’t want” I asked unable to say the word and he said …..yes. He did say that it was still very unlikely but he needed to do a full biopsy so the pathologist would have more to work with letting me know he would do it any day I wanted. Mind you this was a Friday afternoon and Christmas was coming up…this was frightening having a Dr make his schedule around you, knowing normally it’s the opposite. I told him I was open anytime he felt best and he suggested Saturday……….this was the very next day (more scared), I said ok.

This was all becoming all too real.

12.22 I arrived at New Hanover Regional Medical Hospital and got prepped for the biopsy surgery..gown, cap, socks, IV everything. Mind you, I had never been to the hospital for myself before and the closest thing I had to anesthesia, was laughing gas when I got my wisdom teeth out 5 years ago.  Next thing you know I’m awake and it’s over. A little groggy and numb I went home to rest. Again, being on the weekend and a Holiday following we weren’t sure when the results would come in so we counted on Wednesday to be on the safe side, the Day after Christmas. With that said this Christmas I was very thankful for my family and everything I had but there was this dark cloud hanging over me..I felt like I was in a fog but that could have been the pain pills they gave too..ha. I called first thing on Wednesday and the results weren’t in and the next day they said they would have them and for me to be there at 8:15am.

Going under for my biopsy in good spirits. They got my in early and I watched Ice Age..cute cute movie that made me feel better.

Going under for my biopsy in good spirits. They got my in early and I watched Ice Age..cute cute movie that made me feel better.

12.27 I arrived cheerful with my super supportive mom and boyfriend with my coffee and went back to the exam room. Dr. Scott quickly came in examined my procedure area said it looked good, told me they were faxing over the results within 5 minutes and left the room. We continued to chat and laugh as he reentered to the room holding the paper with a serious, shocking look and said, “Amanda it’s cancer, it’s not what I expected.”

As we burst in to tears he continued to talk, explaining everything and letting me know it was ok if I didn’t remember everything he said. He was very caring and nice along with the nurse. I watched my mom cry, Clark left the room for a brief minute feeling faint from the shocking news and I just sat there sobbing numb.

I felt like it was a bad dream, A VERY BAD DREAM.

Dr. Scott gave me more info. Told me that we would make a plan and stick to it. Get this done now, be proactive and let me know my treatment would be a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation…….some of the scariest news one can hear. He then was honest and told me I would lose my hair. I cried harder, it is the most superficial thing but it feels like that makes it real. I can’t hide it and everyone will know that I, me have cancer. I wasn’t ready for that. I also wasn’t ready when the nurse came back in the room with a briefcase size pink bag packed with breast cancer items.. all too real right in my face and at the same time just plain unreal.

I wait for my Dad to arrive and talked to him, seeing the sadness in his eyes and we pulled it together and went down for an x-ray and blood work. Clark, my boyfriend kindly carried that dreadful pink “cancer” bag for me..cause I just felt like that was like carrying a huge, “IJUST FOUND OUT I HAVE CANCER SIGN”.

The donation was sweet the timing was just overwhelming.

The donation was sweet the timing was just overwhelming.

We then when to me parents where my sister met us and we shared the news to her, shocked and sad she put on a smile and said, “well it’s a good thing I wrap one hell of a head scarf.” And we laughed.

12/28 received more results from pathology with some good news letting me know I would be more receptive to hormone treatments, which is good. I had a BRAC done that test genes to see what they are likely to do in the future and had a MRI done.

It's all in the odds right? We used to look at the risk vs. reward of all the different treatment options.

It’s all in the odds right? We used to look at the risk vs. reward of all the different treatment options.

12/28 night I spent researching things on the internet explaining some terms and goals, nutritional information and began to make a plan.

–        Step 1. Be strong and don’t be afraid to talk about how I feel. JOURNAL EVERYDAY.

–        Step 2. Understand exactly what is happening, going to happen to me. BE PROACTIVE.

–        Step 3. Utilize everything I can do on my own

  • Diet
  • Supplements
  • Exercise
  • Positive outlook
  • Be a role model and advocate
  • Payment options

–        Step 4. PRAY

One of the best things I did in the beginning was to go out and buy a nice planner to keep up with Doctors Appts. and everything else you are still trying to wrap your head around, mine had a section for filing where I could keep my bills in one place, contact info for my appointments, take notes. This really helped relieve a little stress from having all these things floating around in my head.It made me feel in control.

One of the best things I did in the beginning was to go out and buy a nice planner to keep up with Doctors Appts. and everything else you are still trying to wrap your head around, mine had a section for filing where I could keep my bills in one place, contact info for my appointments, take notes. This really helped relieve a little stress from having all these things floating around in my head.It made me feel in control.

My diet became important and I decide to eat as organic as possible. My friends gave me books, advice, shopping tips and stores, it was great...there is a whole different world out there when it comes to food! Not easy to do though.

My diet became important and I decide to eat as organic as possible. My friends gave me books, advice, shopping tips and stores, it was great…there is a whole different world out there when it comes to food! Not easy to do though.

and that’s how it began……………