July 2nd, 2014
This coming 4th of July, I will celebrate the independence of a small tumor from my left breast. Talk about life’s curveballs! Not something I ever expected — colon cancer runs in the family, not breast cancer.
Although the guidelines have now changed, I’ve been getting regular mammograms every year for at least five years. A couple of years ago I was called back for an ultrasound as they found an abnormality; I was totally freaked out, but fortunately it was for naught. So when I got called back after my May 16 mammogram, I wasn’t concerned. (My breast tissue is dense, so it can be hard to read with just a mammogram).
During the ultrasound the doc was a tad concerned about one area (appeared as shading), but not particularly so. He said it very well could be how the breast tissue was formed, but he recommended getting a biopsy “just in case.” Again, I wasn’t concerned. Hell, I even scheduled the biopsy three days before a 50-mile race! (My über expensive yet highly supportive bra earned its keep: I ran a 30-minute personal best.)
They said I would likely get my biopsy results two days later. Friday came and went with no call, but I wasn’t worried. Monday came and went, and I decided if I didn’t hear by Tuesday afternoon, I’d call. My darling and I were sitting on the couch Facebooking Tuesday morning when the phone rang; my heart jumped into my throat when I heard my doctor’s voice. (Typically if it’s good news then a nurse calls). Once I heard the word “cancer” come out of her mouth I pretty much became oblivious to anything else she said. (It was like the adults in a “Charlie Brown” cartoon: “WAH WAH WAH WAAH, WAH WAH WAH WAAH.”)
I had to have her repeat what I had; she used the terms “infiltrating lobular, low-grade” and “in-situ.” She had made an appointment for me to meet with a breast cancer surgeon that coming Friday (the 13th, no less.) I hung up the phone and burst into tears. As I dialed my sister to inform her, my darling turned to Dr. Google with the information we had. As I blubbered to my sister about having cancer, he’s saying, “It’s not cancer!” Rather, it was “lobular carcinoma in-situ (LCIS),” which is not considered a “true” cancer. However, it means you’re at a greater risk for developing cancer in the future, so regular screenings and hormone therapy are recommended.
This information helped relieve me a bit, and I decided to hold off on telling my other siblings and my mom until after I met with the surgeon. But the waiting was the worst part (patience is not one of my virtues). It also gave me time to turn to Dr. Google myself. I kept coming back to the word “infiltrating;” while “in-situ” means “in place, “infiltrating,” well, means the exact opposite. My worries returned but all I could do was wait to meet with the surgeon.