After the initial whirlwind of finding out I have breast cancer has settled a bit, thought it would be good to explain a bit about my type of cancer and how it was found. Here is the beginning of my cancer story.
On Monday, December 1, 2014, I was officially diagnosed with Stage 2a Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with lobular features. Meaning that the cancer originated in the milk duct, close to the lobe – hence ‘lobular features’. Invasive simply means that it has left the duct (not that it has invaded my entire body). The cancer is contained on a thickened tissue. The doctors are calling ‘sclerosis’ because it is not normal breast tissue, but this tissue, in and of itself, is not cancerous. The cancer is dots of cancerous tumors along this tissue. So, I don’t have your typical mass/tumor/lump.
Almost two years ago I found two lumps in my right breast. My doctor sent me for a mammogram. The lumps did not show up on the mammogram, so an ultrasound was done. One was ruled out as being a normal cyst but the other did not show. At this point it was determined that I have fibrocystic breast – meaning lumpy boobs. Many women have this and it can make it more difficult to find lumps when screening for breast cancer. The other lump, I was told just to watch it for changes.
In March of last year, I turned 40 and was sent to have another mammogram and all looked well. I informed them of the lump, but when I said it had not changed, there was no concern. And again, it did not show. Fast forward to the end of this summer. I noticed that the lump seemed larger, but didn’t think too much of it. After all, I had two mammograms, it should be just fine. Finally in October, it had grown to a point that I was very concerned. Trekking back to my primary care doctor we decided it was a good idea to get another mammogram. Again, it did not show, but they ushered me into the ultrasound room. Nothing really showed, but because of the size of it, the radiologist came in to take a look. At this point, they ultrasound-ed every millimeter of my boob, only to not really see anything. But because of the size of it (you can feel it) I was referred to a breast surgeon.
Not knowing what to expect Jason and I nervously went in. After a physical examination she said lets look at it with an ultrasound and biopsy it. Right there she told us, even if the results come back “normal” she would still push to figure out what is going on. We get a call a week later that the biopsy results came back negative for cancer. Still not satisfied, she recommended an MRI. Well, insurance would not cover it as I had a “normal mammogram result”. So an operational biopsy it is! The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with the help of an absolutely lovely anesthesiologist, they rolled me in. Five days later, on Monday afternoon, we received the call that you don’t ever want to hear.
But on that same note, I knew. I absolutely knew something was wrong. That lump should not have grown, it shouldn’t have been there in the first place. And in an odd way, it was a relief to know. Now we can fix it. At this point, my breast surgeon is one of my favorite people on the planet. She pushed as hard as we did and also just knew that something was wrong.
The thing I want to convey most is this: if you feel something is wrong, push. You are your own best advocate. I had three (THREE!) mammograms, two ultrasounds and an in office biopsy that this cancer did NOT show up on. Yet, I have cancer.