I was watching the season finale of Sons of Anarchy last week, when I found a lump in my breast. A big one (the lump, not my breast). Also, don’t judge about why I was doing a self exam while watching TV. (Very disappointed at the CGI at the end of that finale. Lame.)
I called my doctor the next day, and went in for a check up. She did an exam and said she was pretty confident it was no big deal. But advised that I get a mammogram anyway. Besides, I’m 41, and I should establish a boob-baseline.
Yesterday was the mammogram and ultrasound (ultrasound was necessary since I could feel the lump). I was joking with the techs, and watching on the screens. They took a lot of images, but since this was my first mammogram, I wasn’t sure what was normal. Honestly, I wasn’t worried. I’m healthy. There’s absolutely no cancer of any sort in my family. What could go wrong?
I knew it wasn’t good when the radiologist came in to give the results and asked if I wanted to have someone with me during the consult.
Um, I came alone. It’s just a test, right? Surely, she was going to tell me it was a cyst. Maybe it needed drained, but no biggie, right?
So, there are two rather large masses in my right breast. They’re solid, so they’re not cysts and unlikely to be menstrual-cycle related. They’re also not perfectly round. Good news: they’re not spider-webby, just a little pointy on each side. The radiologist was rating the area as a BIRAD 5. The scale only goes to 6, with 6 being a confirmed malignancy. The radiologist said I could wait until after the holiday to schedule a biopsy since there was unlikely going to be a change. Then she left the room so I could wipe the ultrasound goop from my chest.
I sat stunned as the tech ushered me back to the locker room to change into my clothes before meeting with the surgical nurse, who could answer questions.
I just stared at the tan and blue dressing room curtain. What the fuck does this mean?
Waiting for the nurse in her office, I did a quick google search for things to ask when your mammogram comes back suspicious. I never had a reason to pay attention to news articles or information about breast health. All I could think was “shit, I should have paid attention more to women’s health topics.” I felt completely uninformed.
The nurse was great. Straight forward, which I like and appreciate. I listened to information about the procedure, and then asked her my “what if” questions: what if it’s more than just a mass? What if it’s cancer? What are the options if it’s not cancer? What are the options if it is?
She answered everything, straight to the point, no-nonsense. Then sent me to scheduling.
I go in for a biopsy on Christmas eve at 8:45.
I spent last night researching. I’m a researcher, have to know my options. My head is like a flowchart: if this, then that. And I needed to fill in as many of those holes as possible. I like options, even if I never need them.
B called last night. He knew I was going in for tests. I broke down into tears when I was talking to him. It was the first time I cried since getting the news. I cried even more when I tried to go to sleep last night. It isn’t the procedure or even what it might show. It’s how this will impact the kids.