Saturday, 9 February 2013

So, apparently I have breast cancer...

I started this blog 18 months ago with the intention of posting cute things I found on the Internet, along with updates on my baby girl. Then I discovered Pinterest and it was all over!

Now I am back, and from the title of this post you know why. Exactly three weeks ago I was told I had cancer. I am 27 years old, with no family history, and i have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma stage 2a. Here is how it was discovered. (I apologise in advance for the very long, most likely very boring post. I promise they won't all be like this.)

I was very proud to have breast fed little birdie until she was almost 16 months. To be honest I was more than happy to be stopping by then, and the transition from boob to bottle was very easy. A little after I stopped I noticed that I had a hard mass in my left breast that I assumed was related to stopping feeding.

Two months later I still had the mass and it even started to be slightly painful so I decided to show my GP at my daughters 18 month check up. He didn't act too concerned but told me to go for an ultrasound. I booked the ultrasound for later that week and ended up having to reschedule it 3 times. The last time I almost just cancelled it but something made me change my mind and book it.

I went along to the ultrasound expecting to be told it was nothing. I took little birdie with me and she actually sat an my lap while I had the ultrasound. First they looked at my right breast and as suspected found nothing. When they looked at the left side they paid much more attention. I was told they were almost done and just had to check under my armpit. I was asked if I had ever noticed any pain under my arm. I had and had assumed it was from an ingrown hair or something as equally insignificant. The radiologist then left the room saying she wanted to speak to the doctor and see if they wanted to examine me. After being gone for what felt like 10 minutes she returned with a plastered on smile to tell me that 'everything was fine' and that I should just pick up my results in 2 hours and then go back to my GP. I think she also casually mentioned that i might need to have a biopsy. Once I left I tried to tell myself it was nothing to worry about. I booked an appointment with my GP for the following morning and went about the rest of my day. When I returned later to pick up the results I red the report and immediately called my husband. There were three lesions, the largest measuring over 2cm, and three questionable lymph nodes. A biopsy was recommended. I then called the GP and changed the appointment to that evening. I thought there was a chance that he would be able to do a biopsy himself but was wrong. He gave me a referral and told me to call the same people who had done the ultrasound and organise the biopsy. By the time we left his office it was too late to book any biopsy as everyone was closed so I had to wait till the next morning.

First thing the next morning I called the radiologist I had seen the previous day to organise the biopsy but they couldn't fit me in for a week. I called someone else and they couldn't get me in until the following week either. There was no way I could wait that long so I called a third place who had their breast specialist in that day and they booked me in for 1.15pm the same day. I organised for a friend to come with me to help entertain little birdie and we even planned to go shopping afterwards...that never happened!

We arrived at the radiologists a little early and little birdie wasted no time in getting into all the toys and snacks I had brought for her. Luckily I didn't have to wait very long till they called my name so I kissed little birdie goodbye and went off for what I was expecting to me a quick and fairly painless experience. After being asked to undress and put on a lovely blue gown the radiologist did a quick ultrasound and then called in the specialist. After a quick introduction they both left the room. A few minutes later they told me that had called my GP and decided to do a mammogram as well which needed to be done before the biopsy. They walked me down that hall to the mammogram room and the first thing I heard was my daughter crying in the waiting room. They told me my friend could bring her in to see me and I could tell she had been crying ever since I left. I held her for a while and then had to give her back to my friend. Even though we were still in the same room she was still crying when I wasn't holding her (she is a definite mummy's girl) and they did my mammogram, which seemed to take forever. Then I had to say goodbye to birdie and go off for my biopsy. It turns out it wasn't as simple of a process as I had imagined. They had to do a core biopsy which meant the specialist numbed the skin and then used a scalpel to make a small incision and then inserted a very long and thick needle which was very uncomfortable. This was while the radiologist did an ultrasound to guide her to the lesion. They then had a pathologist come into the room and did a simpler fine needle biopsy of my lymph node. They gave the pathologist samples as they were taking them to make sure they had taken enough to be examined. Once she told them she had enough they applied a large dressing to the incision and a small bandaid under my arm, told me my results would be ready in three days time (Monday) and sent me on my way.

THE RESULTS- kind of
The next day (friday) i went and spent the day with my sister who had just gotten out of hospital after giving birth to her fourth baby, a beautiful little boy. Little birdie absolutely loves her cousins so she had a wonderful time too. No more than 10 minutes after I headed home I received a phone call from my GP's office saying my Dr wanted me to come in to discuss my results and asked how soon I could be there. As soon as I saw it was them calling I knew it was bad news. I asked if my husband should come too and was told that would be good. My husband met me there and when we got in his office
we were given the news we expected. I had cancer. My GP had only received the results from the lymph node biopsy so there wasn't much else he could tell me but it was definitely breast cancer and it was definitely in my lymph nodes under my arm. He had tried to get a hold of a breast surgeon as soon as he received my results but hadn't been able to. He told me he would call me with the rest of my results on Monday and also have an appointment arranged with the specialist by then.

On the Monday we received my full results. I had a form of aggressive breast cancer called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I had an appointment with the specialist on the Friday. And to make things even crazier we were picking up the keys for our brand new home on the Wednesday and would be moving the following week.

So, it's now three weeks later. We have moved into our new home. I've met with my surgeon three times (who is absolutely wonderful!) had another core biopsy, more ultrasounds, a full body CT scan (which luckily came back all clear) and in four days time will be having a single mastectomy including lymph node removal. This will be followed by 6 months of chemotherapy and 12 months of herceptin treatment. I've been surprisingly fine through the whole ordeal. I think the big move and an active 19 month old have been a wonderful distraction. The most upsetting part of the whole thing was that a week after diagnosis I discovered I was pregnant. As soon as I found out I burst into tears and just knew I wouldn't be able to continue the pregnancy, which my surgeon confirmed. I had to meet with an obstetrician who performed the termination this week. When we first met he said 'so the pregnancy was unplanned?' To which I replied 'no, the pregnancy was planned, the cancer wasn't!' As difficult as it was to go through, my husband and I just had to treat it as the first part of my cancer treatment. On Monday I will be spending the day with my sister, getting manicures and pedicures and getting my hair done. I figure it might make me feel better after surgery if my hair and nails look nice.

I'll hopefully post again before my surgery on Tuesday. If there is anyone reading this at any point in time who is going through something similar and has any questions I'm more than happy to answer them.

1 comment:

  1. Marissa this was such a hard post to read but you're very brave for sharing your story and detailing what you've been through and what you have to come.

    I wish you all the best and I know how strong you can be. You've been through a lot the past few years so I know you're a fighter!!

    Sending all my love to you and the family xx

    Jesse Nel