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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Finding Cancer

Many of you are asking how I found the lump and why it was even on my radar screen.

10 years ago I had a suspicious lump.  They removed the lump and it was negative.  I was told I have Fibrocystic breasts, which basically means I have dense and lumpy tissue.  I was instructed to get to know my lumps and be aware of any changes.  Since then I have been a pretty faithful "lump checker"

(still getting used to talking about "lumps" and "breasts" in such a public manner.  oh my...)

Last year I had a couple of areas on my right breast that worried me a bit.  They decided to order a mammogram and an ultrasound.  I was sent home with the diagnosis of breasts cysts, which are fluid filled and no big deal.  Nothing showed up on my left breast.

Around Christmas, I noticed a rather distinct lump on my left breast.  After opening Christmas gifts, I made my sisters come in front of a mirror with me as I discretely showed them my concern.  They were amazed that they could see the lump just by looking at the reflection in the mirror.  Most lumps you can only feel.  Now granted, I am not the most voluptuous woman in the world, so to see it would not be as hard on me as some, but its distinctness bothered me.

I went back to my physician.  She agreed there was indeed a lump.  She sent me to get an ultrasound.  The radiologist just said it was normal tissue with a bit of scar tissue from my previous biopsy 10 years ago.

Fast forward to May, I felt the area was changing and was more distinct.  I went back to my physician  She sent me straight to a surgeon to have it evaluated for removal.  This surgeon came highly recommended and is very well known in this area.  I trusted her.  She did a quick exam, and in the most confident manner said "I know what I am feeling is normal breast tissue" &  "I am very confident that this is nothing."  "I do this everyday and I know what I am feeling"  She told me it felt distinct because of the scar tissue to the side of it from the previous biopsy, and the changes I "think" I am feeling are do to age (breasts get softer which would make the scar tissue seem more distinct) and a few pounds I had lost. Her explanation made sense to me.  She was the most confident doctor I have ever talked to.  I believed her.

Todd happened to come with me to that appointment and really pressed her.  She kept giving us her same confident answers.  I sat there feeling so relieved, but Todd pushed for at least another ultrasound, so we could compare it to the one I had around Christmas.  She reluctantly gave in and wrote up and ultrasound order, and handed it to me flippantly and said "if you really need this for peace of mind, here you go"

We left feeling so very happy and relieved.  I slipped the order into my purse and thought "maybe I should get it done before school gets out.  I was in no hurry.  I had never had a Dr so confidently tell me I was fine like she did.  I trusted her.  I should not have.

Kids got out of school for the summer, and following up on the ultrasound was in the back of my head,  but the Dr made me feel like I was wasting my time, and we all know I like to procrastinate.

Throughout the summer I would periodically look a the lump and wonder if it was growing.  I also had a hard time keeping weight on, and noticed that I was losing a ton of hair with each shower I took.  I thought it was lack of protein so I increased my protein.  Weight loss and hair loss were the only two things out of the ordinary.  Both were easy to ignore during a super fun summer with my girls, and I did not connect that at all to the lump.  I still don't know if they are connected or not...

Girls go back to school, I start having some pain below my left rib, in the spleen area.  It started waking me up at night, so I went to the Dr.  They ordered an ultrasound for my spleen and I thought to myself "I might as well get that lump looked at since I have an order, and hit two birds with one stone"

Ultrasound showed a very healthy spleen, but not a healthy breast.
They wanted me to have a biopsy as soon as possible.

I had a needle core biopsy -which was one of the most painful tests I have ever had!  Stupid area would not numb during the procedure.  Grr.  I was not a happy girl leaving the clinic that day.  Pain makes me MAD!

2 days later, the same surgeon that told me she was so very confident that what she was feeling was normal breast tissue, called my home and told me "I'm sorry, you have breast cancer."

I froze. I knew I was in trouble because this lump has been around awhile. I started to hyperventilate, but then remembered I was home alone with my girls and 2 very rowdy neighbour kids.  I pulled myself together in time to hear the doctor say "I'd like to set up a time for you to meet with me."

I calmly but coldly reminded her that she was the doctor that told me I had nothing to worry about months ago, said I had no interest in seeing her again, then I hung up.  I blame the shock for my rudeness.

How I feel about that doctor is something I think I still need to work through.  I know she is human.  I know she has done a lot of good for many other women in my situation.  I just wish she were not so confident, her confidence kept me from feeling the urgency to get the ultrasound back in June.  I need to forgive her and I think I have, but my emotions toward her are confusing.

I called my husband, he rushed home.  The girls had Bible Club that night, so we had 3 hours alone, together.  It was so surreal.  We just kept looking at each other in disbelief.  I started making phone calls, Todd took to the treadmill to walk it off.

I felt very lost without a doctor and had no idea where to start.  I have so many good friends and family members who went to work right away trying to get names and recommendations.  Even that process took some faith, as one person would highly recommend a doctor, then the next person would give me a list but say "do not go to so-and so" which would be the very name I was just told to go to!  We heard numerous times the best surgeon in town was the very doctor I hung up on.  It was overwhelming, but even in the midst of it all I knew God had the perfect doctor out there for me.

My sister -in -law's sister, is married to an doctor here in town.  They were on their way out of the country when my sister- in- law, Wendy, called them and asked what we should do, where we should go.  He not only gave a recommendation, but called the Oncologist and told her my story.  It is only because of God working though that phone call that I was able to be seen by Thursday, two days before a long labor day weekend.  I now know that was a huge blessing, as it is not easy to get into an oncologist so quickly, especially a good one.  I got a lot of testing out of the way Thursday and Friday, which gave us a good jump start on the slew of tests that it takes, to stage and grade cancer.

I am so very thankful for my Oncologist and love her already.  She is so very smart, kind, and tough.  She is straight forward, but will also make jokes at appropriate times.  For example, she is Indian and while listening to my heart, she says in her soft Indian accent "Oh, my. Your heart is going like a train.  We must find a way to calm you"  :)  It made me laugh which calmed me instantly.

As of now, here is what we know:
~I have breast cancer
~The tumor is 4 cm.
~There is a suspicious, swollen lymph node under left arm pit.
~ CAT scan is negative-Praise God!
~Bone scan is negative-Praise God!

*Tomorrow I will have an MRI and meet my surgeon for the first time

*Thursday I will have PET scan and have a big meeting with my Oncologist, in which she will tell us the grade and stage of the cancer and our battle plan.

*Friday-I will have surgery to place a port.  More than likely, I will receive chemotherapy first, to shrink the size of my tumor, then surgery.  The port is placed so the drugs can go directly to a main artery and so I won't have to be poked a thousand times.

I sigh and smile (and pout) as I read this.  I am supposed to be on a plane to Chicago to enjoy a week away at a conference with my husband.  How quickly life can change.

 I will do my best on this new journey, thanks for coming with me.

53 comments:

  1. just found your blog. know that i am praying for you.

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  2. Wow, what a journey.
    It is so frustrating when a doctor makes you feel silly for wanting to be checked out. I do agree that, for your own piece of mind if for nothing else, that forgiveness needs to be given. On the other hand, that doctor needs to realize that she is only a human and that she needs to be more cautious with other people's lives.
    Hooray for the negative CAT and Bone scans!
    I will be praying for more good news on Thursday and for peace and strength for you and your family.

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  3. I just wanted to let you know I have been thinking of you and praying for you. Praise God for the negative tests!

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  4. I'm so sorry. My mom is currently going through treatment for breast cancer and I know that the road ahead will be difficult for both of you. I wish you good news and a speedy recovery.

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  5. I am amazed at how well you were able to tell this story. I'm sure your thoughts & emotions must be a jumble of about a million things. But, your description of this story makes me feel like I'm right there beside you.

    Please know that there are so many of us out here in blogland who, even though we've never met, are beside you in prayer.

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  6. Oh Amy, I am so sorry to hear this news. Thank goodness you were watching your tissue and paying attention to the lump, and that your husband pushed for the ultrasound order so you could get it- even if not right away. And thank goodness your sister in law's brother in law was able to get you an appointment with the oncologist so quickly. I really wish you the best of care and a speedy and complete recovery!

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  7. It looks like God allowed the spleen pain to get you in to have that ultrasound when you did! I have been there before. Told the nurse sypmtoms I had and ended up with premature labor and lost my baby, where maybe it could have been prevented if the nurse would have just put a positive mark on my chart. I am so sorry you have to go through this, but it looks like they caught it early before it spread! PTL!! We are on this journey with you...thank you for posting here as you go! God Bless!

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us . . . you have just given so many the courage to speak up in the doctor's office.

    Although our families don't know each other, my family is and will continue to be praying for your family.

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  9. I will be praying for you Amy! I am glad you were persistent with your doctor. My oldest daughter who is 18 just went and had an ultrasound for lumps in her breast a few months ago. We will be watching her. Thanks so much for sharing. Please keep us informed of what's going on so that we can continue to pray for what you need!

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  10. Oh my Amy!!! I read your announcement on Saturday and have prayed for you everyday. I will continue to pray for you!!! I am glad you like your doctor, it is very important, you have to feel that you can trust that person. God has placed amazing dr's in front of me to help with my babies, and I know the importance of that. All my love to you my blog friend. I will pray for you and your family. I truly wish I could just give you a hug. OOOOOO There!

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  11. Karen said: "Please know that there are so many of us out here in blogland who, even though we've never met, are beside you in prayer." Count me among them!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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  12. you are so strong amy. thanks for sharing your story and letting us in on your process through this. praying for you and love you tons!

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  13. I just want to cry with you. Life just doesn't seem fair sometimes but God has such a plan for you. Your strong and have so many backing you and praying for you. I have young children as well and this just hits home to know that our lives can change so fast. Know that your in my prayers that God will have his way in your life and through this storm that you will be able to praise His name. I pray for peace in your heart and for your husband and your children to have understanding and peace during all of this. May God richly bless you during this time.

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  14. Hi Amy~ I was behind on blogging and just got caught up with you and your situation today. Please know that I'll be praying for you throughout this journey. I've enjoyed reading your blog and getting to know you ever since that first day I stumbled on your site, and I'll continue to look forward to your posts. You're an amazing woman with a strong and beautiful FAITH to get you through this. Sending prayers and ((HUGS))!

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  15. Oh no, Amy!! I am so very sorry. What a nightmare. I would be so angry with the doctor too! I really do think that doctors need to take lessons in humility...like a course in medical school!!

    Praying with you as you begin to journey down this road. So thankful that you know the Great Physician. He will carry! Praying, friend!

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  16. I'm so sorry for your current challenges, Amy!! What blessings that the tumor was finally diagnosed correctly & that you've found a great doctor! Please know you'll be in my thoughts and prayers - continued blessings!

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  17. Found your blog through SortaCrunchy and just wanted to offer up my prayers too, for God's amazing grace and peace and blessing on you and your family!

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  18. Oh my goodness, Amy! Your an amazing woman and I know your going to pull through this. It sounds like you already have an amazing support system outside of the web, but you also have a crew here that is praying for you daily...and the Lord will carry you through. Your such a brave woman and I will continue to pray for you daily!

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  19. You are in my thoughts. I don't blame you at all for not wanting to go back to that dr. who wasn't concerned. If it was a lump in her breast, I wonder what she would have done!

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  20. What a rollercoaster of events and emotions for you in such a short period of time. You faith is keeping you strong and it sounds like your support group is fearless. You ARE going to come through this!

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  21. Hey Amy,

    You told the story well, girl! Strangely, quite the opposite of every Dr. I came in contact with, they couldn't wait to cut on me!

    This is a battle but you're equipped for it. Take one day at a time, one minute at a time, what else can you do? Try not to project too far out, just stay in the present.

    Jesus will give you the strength to take each step....cry when you need to, yell when you want, praise God as you feel led.

    Praying, praying, praying for you!

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  22. Amy, so sorry to hear what you've found yourself in the midst of. I'm reminded that God wants to lead you beside quiet waters and have you lay down in green pastures. I'll believe He will restore your soul and BODY in this crazyness. I will be praying for you. love, Jenni

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  23. 2 years ago I had cancer of the colon, and it is gone. I was having panting and breathlessness. Two doctors said stupid things but the third I insisted do tests. I was in the hospital the next day and operated on within a week. If I can do it you can too. Hang in and trust.

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  24. I love reading the comments almost as much as reading the post, which was beautifully told. Your readers are so wonderful. Doctors are human, huh? Sometimes even they don't know that. It must be so hard to keep it out of your thoughts. I hope you can let your mind rest at the conference and get some mental, emotional rest. We are praying for you in our house! Lisa~

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  25. what's in my thoughts, you ask? YOU are in my thoughts. fight strong, you've got the most beautiful gifts in the world to do it for.

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  26. Thank you so much for sharing your story and journey with us. You are so brave and making a big difference just by helping us remember the importance of the vigilance in being aware of our own bodies. God bless you!

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  27. Oh I am so sorry to hear this. Thank you though for having the courage to share your journey with us. I'm sure your story will help other women as well.
    I'm praying for you and your family that things will go as smoothly and positively as possible.

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  28. Dear Amy 5 years ago I went through some of things you have gone through. I have since had a double mastectomy. The lump was large and in my rt breast
    and after the core biopsy they decided to do lumpectomy but found out that there were other lumps in breast and they all came back positive but no positive lymph nodes, very lucky so I had mastectomy. Two years later made decision to have other breast off and was glad I did because their were some precancerous cells. Tried cancer meds had lot of bad side effects so chose to stop. Have been 5 years cancer free. Try and find a breast cancer group it was the most positive thing I did other then praying. I will pray that everything goes well for you. If you need to talk just e-mail I am always here for support. God Bless Sandra davidson.sandra0@gmail.com

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  29. wow. cancer so mean. i'm praying for you and your family during your fight. i think your feelings towards your former doctor are totally understandable. i would be livid. i am praying that you will be able to live out your faith in a real and inspiring way during this journey. God has you, no matter what.

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  30. Praying, praying, praying for you as you go through all those appointments this week...that God would prepare the way and demonstrate his power...

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  31. "What time I am afraid I will trust in you" became my mantra when I was initially diagnosed. Even though I couldn't trust perfectly the Lord knew my desire and held me so close to him that I couldn't feel my feet on the ground. I'm a cancer survivor of many years and know that you are a precious, precious woman whom our Lord calls "mine". Praying for you in NVA - Kelly

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  32. Thank you for sharing your story and you're in my prayers. The unknown can be so scarey, but it sounds like you are grounded in your faith and have a wonderful husband, both of which are key to navigating this strange journey.

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  33. You and your family are in my prayers. BTW, I do not think you were at all rude to that doctor. If she's as good as everyone has made her out to be she has already taken to heart what you said to her and won't be so cavalier with other patients in the future.

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  34. Jenna Zoll- Everhart9/7/10, 9:14 PM

    Sweety...I am praying for you every day and I know you are strong enough to get through this!
    I had a scare last year but it turned out to be
    fibral changes due to aging. Maybe I should get rechecked as well...

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  35. Hi Amy, I just found your blog last week. I was so sad to see this post! I am a breast cancer survivor. I can relate to you because I also had a large lump. I had chemo first also and it worked really well for me. Mainly, I just want to say- You can do this!! It's so hard, but you will find a strength you didn't know you had. May God bless you! If you have any questions about any of this, please email me. pjthomas2000@yahoo(dot)com

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  36. What do you even say to someone you only know through blogging but feel such empathy for? Just know that we are all pulling for you and we care.

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  37. Still thinking and praying for you. God works in mysterious ways, and I hope the surgeon and oncologist are the perfect fit for you and what is going on.

    I pray that exams you have scheduled, and the appointments you have coming up, all go smoothly, and that the doctors are guided by the Lord to do their best work on you.

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  38. I can't imagine what you are going through so I want to thank you for being so open about whats happening. You have reminded us all that breast exams are sooo important and above all don't doubt your instincts and fight for the best health care you can. A similar thing happened to my mum who found a lump in her neck and for two years her doctor told her is was glands. Needless to say it wasnt glands and was cancer. I wish you all the best.

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  39. What a wonderful support group you have here in your friends online. I can just feel all the love oozing from all the comments. You are so loved and cared for Amy.
    This is a crazy rollercoaster ride that you and your family are now undertaking....but just know that we are there with ya (prayers are being said for you all over the world...amazing!)

    PS I have done a breast exam because of you..haven't done one in 3 yrs..and I will be more mindful of doing it more regularly now.

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  40. Amy, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences and tellng others about mis-diagnosis as it will educate others. Remember God is with you and we all are praying for you.
    God is your bridge over troubled waters.

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  41. Amy- lots of prayers to you and your family as your go through this journey.

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  42. Your breast cancer diagnosis saddens me. May you have the strength, every step of the way, to make a full recovery. Your "brush off" by the dr. enrages me. I, too, have been seriously wronged and physically damaged by a group of dr's and surgeons with nary an apology. But instead, a condescending attitude. I am hopeful that you are now in good hands. You can get through this!!!

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  43. I am almost speechless! I am so proud of how you have handled this & finding your new doctor (she sounds incredible!). About a year ago both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer within 24 hours of each other. Today they are doing amazing! I am certain that it is because of their faith in God. Please keep your faith and keep us posted. Feel the love & support from all of these people that read your blog. We all know that you can do this! It won't be easy, but please know that we all support you and that we are praying fervently for you and your family! hugs, Cathy

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  44. Still praying for and with you. We also added you and your family to the prayer request list at our church.

    Side Note: I love your spirit and how you are publicly handling this. Keep fighting the good fight of faith.

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  45. I imagine writing this all out has been somewhat therapeutic for you, at least I hope so. You are a brave soul to share so much of this time with all of us here. It is reassuring to know whatever this time of your life is about, you have Christ and do not have to fear. Now to shine for Jesus as you endure your treatments- that is a challenge. You sound up for this calling so I am praying for all the lives you are touching along the way, and for you and your family to be the help you need. God is faithful.

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  46. you are so brave to write all about this. a few years back I met a wonderful women who had breast cancer. she changed my life at the time I lost a baby...a few weeks later she passed away but I will always always be grateful to her and her strength.

    maybe you can be someones strength and I have a wonderful feeling you will beat this and be great for others in the same situation

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  47. Amy - first time visiting you here, but your story (and the way you write your posts) has blown me away. I can understand your frustration - I even feel angry at that Dr!!

    So glad you have a faith in God - an anchor throughout this storm.

    All my love and prayers for the journey you are on.

    xox

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  48. Amy - I praying for you today as you meet with your oncologist. I seem to be so strong and I know you will beat this! Good luck!
    samantha

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  49. prayers with you and for yourfamily

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  50. Hang in there Amy - thanks for letting us in on your journey. Praying for you.

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  51. It's good that you feel you have forgiven that doctor, but it's no excuse for her to be so overconfident and then out right rue to you when insisting on an ultrasound. She should be calling you and apologizing! Thank God you were able to find a good Oncologist and hopefully this will soon be all behind you.

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  52. I appreciate you wanting to share your story. It's a reminder that life does change in a heart beat. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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Thank you so much for your lovely words to me! Due to the number of comments I receive, I cannot respond to all of them - but know that I read and love every word. If you have a question in need of a response, please e-mail sponsornewnostalgia@gmail.com and either Robyn or I will get back to you.