The day after my diagnosis I found out I had an appointment with a surgeon. I came to know that fortunately I was referred to a very well respected surgeon who was a man of few words but was very aggressive in the operating room in regards to the surgeries he preformed. For this I am thankful.
I was literally a wreck that day. The news of the previous morning still whirling in my head.
I remember sitting in the waiting area of his office wanting to scream " don't you know I have cancer". I am not so sure who I wanted to scream that at.
After going into his office he turned and looked at me and said " what would you like me to do". I think my brain exploded as I expected to be told what was going to happen. I thought that was his job. At this point all I know is I have cancer. I don't know what type, if its in my nodes or if it has spread anywhere else. What do I want? I want not to have cancer. I want this all to go away, to be a dream, a very bad one that I would wake up from and it would all be gone.
He then did a breast exam and was very thorough but I remember lying there and feeling completely invaded not only by him manipulating my breasts like they were like putty but by the cancer. I turned my head on the table and the tears came, I was completely overwhelmed.
When we returned to the room he ran through the list of choices like we were shopping for surgeries. I found it all totally weird and while he spoke I kept thinking " how can I keep my boob?" If I could find a way to keep it I would, no problem with that decision. In the end we asked him what he recommended for the best possible outcome and he said " Mastectomy". He has said it now, if I make any other choice it would be the wrong choice or would it? I wanted my boob!!!!! I think down deep I knew he was right. I knew that with a tumor with some girth like mine, a lumpectomy would leave me with not much of a boob after the excision and then clearing the margins around it. He had said that if the margins were not clear he would have to go back in. As I know now I had two tumors, a second one in the duct at 0.1cm had started.
I remember looking at him and saying okay to the mastectomy. I signed the papers. Decision done.
In 24 hours my life changed forever. I was called in a half hour of leaving the doctors office from OR booking. I missed that call but followed up the next morning. Surgery was scheduled the following week.
This was really happening. I felt like I was being swept along in a tsunami.
The next week and half was a mix of bravery and complete devastation. Some days my " big girl pants" just did nothing for me and other days I managed.
Pre-op was a disaster. I woke up with my first ever identifiable panic attack. I thought I was going to completely crumble. It was four hours of " sit here" " go there" " take off your clothes" " roll up your sleeve. I had my beloved with me and I could see him look at me with complete helplessness. No one could fix this it just had to happen.
The day of the surgery was surreal. It was really going to happen. I needed to do this so I could strive for tomorrow. They took me in and marked me for the Sentinel node biopsy. I gotta say this freakin hurt. They inject the radioactive die in close to the nipple area. I screamed out when she did it and then proceeded to sob. I had woken up with an unusual headache that morning, something I was not used to. I could barely look at the lights on the ceiling as I lay there crying. The doctor was great and completely empathetic and tried reassuring me. She has some success. Once done with the marking they sent me out to sit on the chairs in the waiting room with the johnny coat on. I feel asleep on my husbands shoulder.
" Sondria Browne" that is me I thought as the nurse called me to go to surgery. No turning back now it was going to happen. All the " why me's"seemed distant as at this point I was just in the moment. No lamenting. I was resolved to what comes next although, oh so very sad and scared. My headache had turned out to be a distraction on this very stressful day as I could barely keep focus..it was definitely a migraine not something I ever get, maybe a godsend on this day. I said good bye to my hubby and they wheeled me up to the OR. A young doctor came over to me after my arrival and marked me to ensure they took the right breast. She had two students with her and they were coming in to the OR. Then the anesthesiologist came with her student and talked about what they would do. I am thinking okay that is five in the operating room. The surgeon came to see me and just looked down and smiled at me, he had his mask on but I could tell in his eye's. It was then off to the OR. Three nurses were there, one fussing over me and one going around making sure it was all ready to go, she was in charge you could tell...
To tell you the truth at this point I just wanted to go to sleep, to make the pain my head and the pain in my heart go away. I hear the doctor say " we just gave you something for pain" " I think thank god".
"You are going to go to sleep now" I hear the doctor say...... good night irene................
Sunday, 15 April 2012
I wanted to write a blog or do something. To blog or not to blog that is the question. Do you put your stuff out there for possibly anyone to read? Do you bare your soul to the world , which for me is the worst time in my life? The one thing I do know is that the outpouring of support and love that I received in the last month has been both overwhelming and humbling. I receive a thought from people on a daily basis, whether that is in the form of an email, text or phone call. I do know that sometimes I can't talk anymore or my thoughts are completely lost because they have been running through my mind so much they run away. I wanted to be able to share with people how I am feeling and what this experience has been like for me as a way of reaching out with time to process what it is I want to share with you. Maybe through this blog someone might be a little more aware of their own body and treat it with all the love and tender care that sometimes we forget to bestow on the keeper of our fate. I loved my body and I don't blame myself for missing things but maybe as I reflect on how things happened and are happening people might learn something if not for themselves then to share with a friend.
I remember a few years ago a radiologist who was doing a ultra-sound on my breast said " if you did not have cysts you would not have breasts". I had a couple of infections in my breast by this time. I will never forget that statement as I thought it was cavalier and insensitive. I thought "how will I ever know if there is anything else in there"? So am I too just always think that is a cyst if I felt something?
Fast track a few years to November/2011 I noticed a new cyst( large) in both breasts. I remember thinking oh boy the one on my left breast was big. I decided I would wait for a cycle as it had the traits of a cyst as in being static or moving but not as much as I was used to. After my next menstrual cycle I noticed it was still there and when I dug around there was a hard mass below it. Ahhh cyst is hiding something. Not overly worried I went to Dr. first appointment I could get in Jan/12. She did an exam but just said " I think we know your breasts by now". She did however send me for a ultrasound to be safe. That took a month of waiting. The day of the ultrasound it was clear to the technician that something was there and showed the radiologist who looked at it with a puzzled look on his face. " It does not have the height of a malignancy but I won't feel comfortable letting you leave without booking a biopsy to be safe. Okay so I got flags going up the flag pole now.
I had a trip to NYC booked with girlfriends already planned and of course my biopsy was scheduled for the week I was gone so I had to push it ahead a week. My thinking was that if anything was to come of this I would not be going anywhere for a while. Even now as I type that statement I never thought I would be eating my words. This could not happen to me. I am glad I went.
I gotta tell ya girls for me the procedure of a core biopsy was tough. Its a invasive procedure that I hope I never have to go through again. I could feel each time she penetrated the mass. Five times they went in. Four samples. I was a puddle afterwards. A friends face there to greet me afterwards, thank god as I told everyone to stay home as it was a storm but she was pushy and had a four wheel drive. They told me before I left that rounds on biopsy's were on Mondays this was a Wednesday. The next few days left the thoughts of what the hell this was all gonna lead to in my head pretty much constantly. I went to work the following Tuesday. I was having a pretty upbeat day with lots of work to do and busy busy. I heard the phone ring in my purse. I remember I turned around and just stared at the purse. It thought " please don't be the doctor's office" I rolled my chair, picked up the phone and looked at the phone. It was her calling, the day after rounds. My stomach went crazy. I believe I knew at that moment what was happening, but no one had said the word. I rushed to her office that morning and I sat in the exam room. I saw the Dr. walk by and she glanced at me, I could tell this was not going to go well. She came in and sat down and I could tell this was hard for her to deliver the news she was about to share. She said she would not beat around the bush and then said " its
bad, its cancer". I can't exactly tell you what I felt at that time except disbelief and pity for myself. The room felt like it was swirling. " Why me " Why me" Why me"?????????
I had an appointment set for the next day with a surgeon.