It's been a crazy year for my family... from my mom's breast cancer to losing my grandmother, it truly has been a tough one. And I had the scare of my life last week, when I thought it was only going to get worse. Normally, I would spare you the details of my medical history, but I can't do that right now. Not because I'm unhealthy - thank God I've had only good news - but because I hope that maybe this experience will encourage all of you women to really pay attention to your body.
I found a spot on my breast about two weeks ago. After hesitating as long as possible, hoping with all hope that it would just disappear, I made an appointment with my doctor. I was optimistic going in... it was a small spot that I was truly convinced she would not even feel and would laugh me out of the building. As she asked me a few questions and did the exam, she confirmed that she could feel the spot and that she wanted me to go ahead and have some tests ran to make sure it wasn't cancer. My heart completely sank. Sitting on that table, tears forming, I realized that she was seriously talking about my body... that I could possibly have cancer. And while I knew that it would be in the early stages and that most likely it would not be life-threatening, I sat altered. I couldn't believe that she was actually saying I could have cancer. Me. Twenty-seven years old. Breast cancer. Me.
So, I choked back the tears, tried to listen to her words of encouragement, which truly meant nothing to me, and made my appointment for an ultrasound. Walking out to the parking lot, I stared at my cell phone, trying to decide who I should call first. My mom, Brad, and Cilla would all be waiting by the phone for me to call and tell them what they said. I called Brad first, thinking that after I said it out loud to him it would be easier to call my mom and Cilla. Before the end of the conversation, I was crying and had convinced myself that I had cancer. Brad tried to help, but I was hitting the realization of it all and poor guy couldn't figure out which way I was going with everything. Talking to my mom made all things better - she knew EXACTLY how I felt and she was able to make me laugh at myself, which is truly what I needed. She reassured me that I'd be fine, one way or the other. Cilla, as always, listened and told me she'd do whatever I needed, which was exactly what I needed to hear from her. She always knows how I feel and understands when I need words and when I need an ear. It's great having people who understand you!
My ultrasound was scheduled for Thursday and I was so lucky to have my husband go with me. Unfortunately, he had to sit out front the entire time, so I was a nervous wreck by myself, but that's OK. I went through the ultrasound and the much dreaded mammagram that I wasn't expecting to have. They took the tests to the doctor. I waited as patiently as possible for them to come and get me for the results. The nurse was really sweet. She told me she'd go and get my husband... she didn't look like she had good news. Brad came in the room and stood by my side. The doctor entered the room and introduced himself. He immediately made Brad sit down. I thought, "This is it... I have cancer and he's going to tell us now." Brad's face looked nervous, like he was thinking the same thing. He was opening and closing the clasp on his watch over and over. The doctor asked me a series of questions about my mom's cancer and then assured me that he did not detect any signs of cancer in my test results. The world was lifted off of my shoulders. I could actually breathe again. He recommended that I go to a high risk clinic in Lexington to have a consultation with an oncologist and to have an MRI. He recommended this in an effort to help me catch breast cancer early if I am going to have it. I have to have a mammagram each year and an MRI every two years.
So, what was a terrible experience will hopefully help me to catch any signs of cancer earlier. My appointment with the high risk clinic isn't until October 28, but I'm able to focus on things again... focus on living instead of not dying. Unless you've been there, you really don't understand what it's like to hear the "C" word in conversation about your body. It's terrifying, no matter what the result. I hope that none of you ever have to experience it. And I thank God every night that I didn't have to battle it... and pray that I won't have to later.
It all really makes you realize what is important in life... family, friends, fun... It's scary how fast things can change and how quickly you could lose it all. I have to admit that it makes me want to hold everyone a little closer and tighter.
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