Waiting for results…

I had a mammogram and an ultrasound Friday the 17th. St. Patrick’s Day. The luck of the Irish was hopefully with me.

Yesterday my breasts were very painful. Even a hug made me cry. The mammogram was like hell. The technician explained (with pictures) how the more compression used, the clearer the picture. So I welled up with tears as she smashed my breasts 14 times (7 times on each side). She said she could lessen the compression but I insisted, knowing I was already in pain, because I wanted to make sure I got the best pictures possible.

A week ago, I took my body measurements in preparation for 5K training. Today, I felt like my breasts had quadrupled in size. They were so heavy it was insane. The pain was worse too but I am contributing that to the mammogram. I brought out the fabric tape measure and took my breast measurements. There was a 4 inch increase. From a week ago.

I had been trying really hard to not panic until now. But an increase in size of 4 inches, the itching, burning, painful pins and needles sensations along with slight peau’d orange on both breasts is way too coincidental. I am very much panicking over the possibility of inflammatory breast cancer. I know time is of the essence when it comes to IBC. I’m worried that my doctor won’t see the changes as worrisome and I won’t get the right testing to rule out IBC.

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March 15, 2017

Today has been such an odd day. Off and on throughout the day, my left breast has been in moderate to severe pain. More pain than when I was fully engorged while breastfeeding. But it’s not constant so I feel like it’s unrelated.

My husband thinks it’s because I’m hypersensitive to my breasts right now. Maybe he’s right?

I’ve been doing a lot of research on IBC tonight. I was always under the impression that IBC always started with swelling/redness of the breasts and that it happened quickly. I have had swollen, itchy, red breasts off and on over the last month but didn’t think much of it (contributed it to hormones). Now I’m reading stories of women who have had the same thing as me. It’s “gone away”, only to come back worse. Or women who have been tested during the initial symptoms and the doctors can’t find anything on the mammogram and there isn’t “typical” symptoms so they brush it off only to find out a month or 2 later that it’s IBC.

 

4 hours after I started writing this post, I have pain spreading into my back between my shoulders and around the left side of my neck. I don’t know if it’s related to the problems going on with my breasts. But I would put money on it being stress related.

Bucket lists

If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that we can’t wait until we retire to start working on our bucket list items.

I had been looking at 5K runs for several weeks and really wanted to complete one. So much so that I decided it would be on my bucket list. As an obese woman (44 BMI) with bad knees, exercising isn’t something I do on a regular basis. And completing a 3.1 mile run any time soon seemed impossible.

Until it came to my attention that I might not have more than “anytime soon”. I started searching for 5K runs that would be happening in the next few months. And I found one that stuck out. A night run that would end in a party. I may only be 25, but I have never been to a bar or a club. The biggest “party” I’ve been too involved a handful of people and beer. So with this 5K, I could kill two birds with one stone.

I started messaging different people I knew asking if they would do it with me. As much as I wanted to do it, I’m not the best at maintaining motivation. And I tend to be super excited about something for a few days then completely forget about it. But if I wanted to do this 5K, I’d have to have someone getting my butt out walking and eventually jogging. No one wanted to do it. My husband, as supportive as he is, said no. Best friends that are usually my fitness friends all said no. It just wasn’t a good time for everyone.

Then I sent a message to a family member who I don’t have the healthiest relationship with. I was frustrated and depressed. I vented about how I was having medical problems. And I really wanted to do this 5K but didn’t have anyone believing in me. I was starting to doubt myself and nothing was helping.

“Fuck it! Let’s do it!”

I was astonished! This family member lived hundreds of miles away. They couldn’t possibly be willing to drive to my town, just to complete a 5K with me. Their health wasn’t the best either. Obesity, bad knees, age, all against them.

“Hey, what’s your address again?” I gave it to them.

A few minutes passed. “Okay, we’re set. Tickets are bought! We will be doing this 5K together! We got this!”

Wow. This was happening. Someone believed in me enough to do this along side me. The final text of our conversation that night, “Hey. Good luck kid.”

Intros…

I never thought I’d be in this position at 25. I’ve got an amazing husband, three amazing children, a lovely home, friends that I can actually count on and I’m finishing up my bachelor’s degree… Yet here I am, researching every night until the early hours of the morning, “early breast cancer symptoms”, “Paget’s disease early symptoms”, “can a single bleeding duct be benign”, “itching nipples with discharge”, etc.

2 weeks ago, I bent over in my bathroom to pick up the roll of toilet paper that I dropped and blood dripped on the floor. I couldn’t figure out where the blood came from so I didn’t think much of it. A few days later, I wore a white bra for the first time in ages and, at the end of the day, there was a circular spot of blood where my nipple sat. My heart rate quickened. I had a strong family history of cancer, breast cancer ranking at the top of the list. But this was just a little blood. It could be anything.

I calmed myself down and began a breast self exam. I don’t do them as often as I should but I usually do 7-8 a year. Over the years, I’ve learned that I have naturally lumpy breasts. While I was feeling my breast tissue, I noticed there was some changes to my skin. Some dimpling on the underside of my breast. I started thinking about things that had been happening recently that I chalked up to hormones. Itchiness in particular. My nipple was constantly itchy. There had been some burning sensations that had gradually gotten worse.

Then I felt it. A small, lemon seed-like lump on the right side of my left breast. It was deep in the tissue. But it was there. My heart sank. I immediately thought about my girls. The youngest just barely 6 months old and very dependent on mommy. The oldest, 9. And starting the “change”. My middle child is starting school this year. Here I am with a lump, itchy, burning breasts and bloody discharge from a single milk duct.

I called my doctors office to make an appointment with my OBGYN. The lady at the appointment center asked why I needed an appointment so I explained about the bleeding and subsequent lump. “Can you please hold for just a moment?” Sure… 5 minutes go by “Mrs. _____?” Yes. I’m still here. “Mrs. ___, I’m not going to be able to schedule you for the OBGYN for this. I spoke with the office of our breast surgeon and they would like you to speak with you about your symptoms before any appointment is set. Are you okay with this?” Um. Yes? I mean, I – Yes. That’s ok. “Thank you Mrs. ___. Someone will be calling you before the end of today. Is this the best number to reach you?” Yes ma’am. “Great. I’ll make a note of that in your chart. And Mrs. ____?” Yes. “Good luck.”

The breast surgeon? Why was this necessary so quickly? I tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac. So I stay away from Dr. Google otherwise I’d be a bundle of nerves on a consistent basis. So I paced. For 2 hours, I paced. A million and one thoughts flashed through my mind. When my phone rang, I answered it without hesitation. “Mrs. ____?” Yes. “Hello, my name is Sheryl. I’m work in the breast specialists office. Do you have a few minutes to discuss your symptoms?” Yes ma’am. “Ok, can you tell me what happened, when it started and what your concerns are?” For the next 10 minutes, I explained in detail what had happened and when it did so. She was silent the whole time. When I finally took a breath, she began “Mrs. ____. Based on what you have told me, I think we need to get you into the radiologist as soon as possible. The symptoms you have described can be a few different things but they are most commonly associated with malignancy. I will be sending a message to your doctor to request orders for an ultrasound and a bilateral diagnostic mammogram to be completed as soon as possible. They have 48 hours to get back to you but be expecting a call by tomorrow morning at the latest. Do you have any questions?” Um. I’m sorry. Yes? Maybe. No. It’s ok. I’ll wait for the appointment. “Mrs. ____, I realize this is a lot to process. And as hard as it will be, try not to worry until after the testing is completed. Your symptoms sound like trouble, but you could be one of those women who just have a benign condition. If you have any questions or concerns or just need to talk about what you’re feeling, this is my personal cell number, feel free to call me.” Thank you Sheryl. I really appreciate it. “Good luck Mrs. ___.”

Dr. Google became my best friend after that phone call. I felt the only way for me to not freak out would be to read as much about the possibilities as possible. Knowledge is power. And I wanted as much power at this point as I could get. I didn’t sleep that night. All I could do was research. Photos of breast cancer, photos of skin changes, forums of survivors, questions asking about the same symptoms I had.

The call from the appointment line came early. “Mrs. ___?” Yes. “Mrs. ___, Dr. ___ has sent orders for an ultrasound of your left breast followed by a bilateral diagnostic mammogram. When is a good time for you to come in?” Um, as soon as possible. “Ok, I can get you in Monday at 9am, or Friday at 1pm. Do either of those work for you?” Friday, please. “Ok, great. On the day of your appointment, don’t wear any perfumes, body sprays, lotions, powders or deodorants okay?” Ok. “Alright. Your appointment is set for Friday at 1pm for your ultrasound and 2pm for your mammogram. Good Luck Mrs. ___”.

It’s been 4 days since my appointment was set. And 4 days full of searching, reading, worrying and dread. Last night, I had a dream that I woke up and found a dark purple bruise like coloring on my breast with a large dimple and puckering. It fast forwarded to a doctors office where I was informed that I did, indeed, have breast cancer. Normally this kind of dream would leave me in panic but I woke up and was oddly at peace. All day today I have been… serene. I opened up my computer this evening and found several cases where women have had dreams about being told they had cancer before it was diagnosed. A few where the dream was the sole reason they went to be checked to begin with.