Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5% chance

I am sorry that I have not written another entry. I am going to try to write at least one entry per week.

I am going back and writing my experience with cancer. I am now a 3 year survivor but I wanted to share the beginning of the journey then I will blog about my life and experiences now.

My goal is to share how I felt when I was diagnosed with cancer. I felt so, so alone and I thought I was the only person to ever have the thoughts and feelings I was having. I now know that what I was experiencing was normal.

I would like for newly diagnosed women to read this blog and know they are NOT alone or abnormal in anyway for how they are feeling.

Okay, so I had to wait for the 2nd biopsy results. It was supposed to be about a week. While waiting for the results, I fell apart.

***I have to say that I am going to be very honest and open about everything so please prepare yourself for this.***

I couldn't stop thinking about CANCER! How did this happen? Why me? Why me? Why me?

I truly spent every second thinking about having cancer. I wasn't able to sleep or eat. Really all human functioning stopped. I was a mess!

My mother was visiting and I would go to her room and curl up next to her and cry like a baby in the fetal position. There I was a 34 year old woman with my own children curled up next to my mom. I really just wanted my mom to make it go away. My mom asked me what I was most afraid of---dying of course and leaving my 2 children without a mother.

Would I die?, Would my husband remarry?, Would my kids remember me?

I had a whole week to find out if it was definitely cancer. They told me they were 95% sure it was breast cancer but I was hanging on to that 5%. I had found out my first biopsy result on a Wednesday and by Saturday my husband took me into my cancer facility because I hadn't slept at all. He really thought I needed an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. The nurse and doctor I saw that day (not my oncologist) said I was just having a normal reaction to the diagnosis and they didn't think I needed anything except something to sleep.

Well, they gave me something to help me sleep and I still wasn't sleeping. I called my family practice doctor after the weekend and told her I guess I needed an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant. This was very difficult for me because I considered myself a strong person and didn't like the idea that I needed a drug to help me.

I finally started sleeping after the anti-depressant.

More later!

Wiggy Girl

Thursday, August 20, 2009

CANCER, really? I am 34.....

I have decided to start this blog to share my story in hopes of helping others. Here we go! My name is Tina. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34 years old. I had no family history, didn't smoke, didn't drink, ate healthy, had my kids before I was 30 and on and on. This wasn't supposed to happen to me!

You think CANCER happens to the woman over there, on the news, in the paper----not to you! I had always felt this way. I would have been the last person to ever have cancer. My friends and family would say the same.

I didn't do self exams because I falsely believed you had to have a family history. One morning in the shower before attending church, there it was raised up---the lump. I touched it and my mind was racing. I didn't really just feel a lump, did I? I touched it again and wanted to believe it was a mistake. I showed my husband and he said you are so neurotic. There is no way it is anything. He followed up with if you are concerned get it checked. I called and scheduled an appointment the next day with my family practice doctor.

I went in the next day terrified. I knew in my gut something was wrong. I had been very tired. Not the kind of tired I normally felt as a wife and mother but an unbelievable exhaustion. Also, I had this sensation in my left breast and in my left arm. Sometimes it felt like let down as if I was nursing and then other times it was tingly. I had kept checking it and looking at it but I didn't see or feel anything until the lump raised up BARELY!

I told the receptionist how scared I was and she said oh, she had lumps before but they were nothing, mine was probably nothing too. I really appreciated her kind words but my stomach was twisting. The doctor felt the lump and said it was most likely a cyst. Cysts are very common and standard of care was to wait 30 days and see if it went away with the menstrual cycle.

I called Dr. Julie, one of my great friends, and asked if she would do a breast exam. Kind of weird to have your friend feel your boob but I trust her. Julie felt it and she thought yes, probably a cyst and we could watch it. I had an appointment the next day to see a breast surgeon.

We started with a breast exam and the surgeon said I don't feel it, you will have to show me where it is. So I did and she said oh, you are so thin probably anything would stick up on you. I said no, this is different. By the way, not that thin anymore---thanks to all of the drugs from treatment. We did a mammogram. I had never had a mammogram, I was 34----too young for this.

I remember the nurse gave me this little cape and told me to put this on without my top and bra. I looked like Bat Girl! I came out to this special little waiting room in my cape with all of the other ladies. I was the youngest there that day by 30 years. All I kept thinking is okay, time to wake up, this isn't happening.

They finally called me back and said show us where this lump is. I did and they put a marker on it so that they could make sure they got it in the mammogram. I really thought the mammogram would hurt but it didn't. They moved me many different ways and the tech said I am not supposed to say but I see how scared you are and I don't see anything wrong here. What a relief!

I called my husband, mom, and best friend. Mammogram was good! I thought boy I was all worried for nothing but then the anxiety sneaked back in. WHAT ABOUT THIS LUMP! I prayed about it and God was pushing me forward. I had to go back in a couple of hours and meet with the breast surgeon about the mammogram.

Time seemed to drag on forever. Finally the surgeon came in and put my films up on the wall and turned on the little light. She had confirmed what the tech wasn't supposed to tell me, there was no cancer. I still had this lump and what were we going to do. I felt as though the nurses and doctors in the room were looking at me like we have crazy here today. We then did a sonogram. She put the wand on the lump and it was tender. When I touched the lump it hurt. People say if the lump hurts, it isn't cancer----who made that up?---so not true! I looked at the screen and I could see the lump, it was round and dark and cast a shadow below it. She started referring to it as a dark mass and started measuring it. She asked how long I had had the lump. I didn't know. I didn't do self exams. She said we need to biopsy this. I said when do we need to do this, she said NOW! Wait a minute, a second ago I had a normal mammogram and I was being told I was the least likely person in the room to have breast cancer and now we are moving to a biopsy.

I had never had a biopsy. I was healthy or so I thought. She asked me if I wanted 2 sticks or one and I chose one. She put the needle in and took out a sample. She said she didn't give good news or bad news over the phone so I would have to come back tomorrow.

That evening I had remembered that one of our kids had kicked me really hard in the same spot when I was putting eye drops in for an infection. Oh, that is what it was---a bruise under the skin or something. My husband and I convinced ourselves that was it so I went by myself the next day. I remember I was wearing a black classic shirt, dark jeans, and a really cool belt I had just got, around the shirt--you know like they were showing in the magazines. My mom was flying in to do some fall shopping, today was going to be a great day! My long blonde hair, that I had just spent 2 years growing out after having short hair for 10 years, was in place and I was ready to pick my mom up and do some serious shopping.

The nurse told me to put the cape on again. I thought this is odd but maybe they just want to feel the lump one more time or something but that didn't make sense. Why did I have the cape on to be told, go home you don't have cancer.

The surgeon walks in. She was very tall and beautiful. I was relieved to see her and I said hi and started to say good to see you when I realized there was another woman behind her. I had never met her. Dr. K introduced her as Gail the blah, blah, therapist. I don't remember the blah, blah part only heard therapist. Wait, why is a therapist in here? I don't need a therapist if I don't have cancer. Before the surgeon could even say anything, I knew. Dr. K said you do have cancer. WHAT, WHAT, WHAT! Seriously yesterday everyone thought I was a head case, they didn't say that, but today I have cancer!

I said what kind of cancer. I didn't say this earlier but my lump was above my breast not in the boob part. It was on my chest. She said you have breast cancer. I said but the lump isn't even in my breast. She followed up with your breast tissue goes all the way up to your collar bone??? Okay, that is new! No one in my 34 years of life had ever told me that! Why not? Isn't this something women should know. Breast tissue goes up to your collar bone! So do your self exams ladies and check all of the way up to your collar bone, the breasts, and under your arms.

I felt as though I had been punched really hard. I had CANCER! I couldn't even say the word. Cancer in my mind happened to people who didn't take care of themselves, who weren't educated, well spoken, etc. I don't mean that to sound snotty in any way, I am just being honest about my misconceptions about cancer. Cancer can happen to anyone at any time! Let's repeat that Cancer can happen to anyone at any time! None of us are exempt.

I was supposed to go pick up my mom and have a day of shopping. It is really dumb but the first thing I said is will I lose my hair. Not will I lose my life but will I lose my hair. I now know that most women think the same thing.

There I sat in my cape with cancer. I was alone. I think that is the most alone I have ever felt in my life. They asked me what they could do. They called my friend Dr. Julie to come up to the room and my husband was meeting me at the hospital. Scott was meeting me to deliver our kids so that we could go pick up Grandma. He had no idea waiting in the waiting room what he was about to hear.

Dr. Julie came in and I burst out crying. It is cancer! She just hugged me. They needed to do another biopsy to make sure. This time it was a tissue biopsy where they took out long strands of tissue. Dr. Julie stayed with me as the surgeon did this. I will never forget the sound of the instrument taking out long strands of my breast tissue. This was a really bad nightmare.

Dr. Julie went out to be with the kids and sent my husband, Scott in to see me. When he walked in the room, he knew. I mean they don't call you back if your wife is just fine. He walked in and I can still see his blue shirt and his sweet face. I said it is cancer....the tears ran down his cheeks. How could this be? We hugged each other and I know our thoughts were what about our kids. They were 3 and 5. Now what? I was 34 years old with breast cancer......