Wednesday, March 14: Nick and I flew home from a few days in L.A. visiting friends. We were exhausted. Our plane had to make an emergency landing in New York because there was fog in Boston and the plane didn’t have enough fuel to circle. (WTF, right???) So it added many hours to our already long journey. I pretty much collapsed when I got home, but something – I have no idea what – made me think: I haven’t done a self-check for breast cancer in months. I should do that. So I did.
I always wondered if those self-checks were even worth doing. I only do it once a month – and in this case, it had been several months. I can’t even remember the last time I did one. Would I ever actually notice something different? If you’ve ever asked yourself this (and both women AND men should be doing them once a month), the answer is yes. You will notice it. I couldn’t quite believe it. I felt the lump on the outside of my right breast, and didn’t really believe it. So I felt the same place on my left breast – is this normal, does it feel the same on that one? No and no. I kept going back and forth, still not sure.
I was texting my cousin Tara at the same time. “I just found a lump on my right breast. But I’m sure it’s nothing.” “I’m sure it’s nothing, too. It’ll be fine. But go to the doctor just to make sure.”
Thursday, March 15: It was a crazy morning at work, even more than usual since I’d been away for a few days, even though I had my computer and did some work during my trip. It was lunch by the time I got around to trying to find a doctor. I hadn’t found one since I moved into the city and since Nick uses the car to commute to school, it would be impossible to keep my old doctor who is over an hour away. I was just starting my search when Tara texted: “I’m sure you’re very busy, but please call your doctor.” I assured her I was working on it.
I found a seemingly well credentialed female doctor on Berkley St. I called, they said she was accepting new patients and I explained my situation. I went in that afternoon and was glad I did. She was great. Asked many questions (including if it hurt – I said yes, but probably because I kept poking at it to see if it was really there and make sure I wasn’t bothering her for nothing) and was the right mix of concerned but reassuring. And action oriented: she wanted me to go to Beth Israel for a mammogram (my first) the next day.
Friday, March 16: I left work early to go to my appointment at Beth Israel. A few people asked if I wanted them to go with me. No – why would I? It’s just a mammogram. I can handle it. Well, the mammogram turned into a breast ultrasound – which is much easier than having your breast squeezed flat between hard plastic/metal whatever (so not fun, although the woman doing it was so nice, cheery, sympathetic and distracting). During the ultrasound, a second (smaller) lump was found. I listened as other doctors were called in to consult. I heard “not cystic” and my heart sank a little. That was what several people had told me it probably was: “It’s probably just a cyst. My aunt/mother/ex-boyfriend’s cousin/neighbor had one and it was all fine.”
The lead doctor turned to me and said, “We’d like to biopsy both of these. Can you stay?” Uh, yes. Do whatever you need to do. Take them out now, for all I care. Just get this whole thing over with! “Is anyone with you. Do you want to call someone?” No, but I’d be fine. I just wanted to get it over with.
Thank goodness Doreen had told me what a biopsy was! Forewarned was definitely forearmed in this case! Everyone at Beth Israel was wonderful and thoroughly explained everything, but definitely in more medical terms. Doreen gave it to me straight: Huge needle. Painful. Not fun. And she was right.
Before she left the room, the lead doctor said we’d probably get the results Thursday or Friday of the following week, and she would go call my doctor now to update her on the events of the afternoon. Then she told me one more thing, “You’re a young woman. I have to tell you: whatever is in there is not good. It’s going to have to come out. Please prepare yourself for breast surgery.” Okay…
I left with an ice pack clutched to my breast and two more in my bag. I’d be bruised and hurting for at least a few days. I settled in on the couch as soon as I got home. Nick, Alivia and Kevin had some pizza with me, went and got me tylenol and a frozen yogurt, then went out. Several people offered to come over and keep me company but I was so tired, in shock and just needed to be alone. I couldn’t believe this was my life. Still can’t.