Over a month ago, I was busy celebrating my 34th birthday, working like crazy, and looking forward to a girls getaway in Vegas with my best friend. Until life decided that it had another plan for me…a journey through Stage 2 breast cancer.
Let’s back this bus up a little further to the end of April where my story first began…I was lying in bed one night and thought out of sheer randomness that I should do a self breast exam (never thinking in a million years I would find anything – I was only 33 years old!). The moment I felt a lump in my right breast though, my heart sank and my mind went nuts. I went straight to the Internet to research what it might be – the thought of breast cancer came firstly to mind – but I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms other than this odd lump. I needed to make an appointment with my doctor ASAP to be sure!
My doctor conducted a breast exam the following week and asked about my family history of breast cancer and my current lifestyle. Nothing seemed to put me at high risk for breast cancer especially at my age – my grandmother had breast cancer in her early 60’s, what some may consider the “typical” age of onset, and I was living a fairly healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet. The doctor advised me that 80% of lumps found are either benign fibrous tissues or cysts; however, I was ordered an ultrasound to be on the safe side.
The day after my 34th birthday, I arrived at the hospital for my ultrasound appointment expecting to be on my way back to work within a few minutes. After the tech was finished doing the ultrasound, she said she wanted to speak with the Radiologist and have him review my images. I knew something was up when the tech returned and let me know that they wanted to follow up with a mammogram.
Never having a mammogram before, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but let me tell you, it was not comfortable! Your boobs are basically mushed flat in all different angles to get a 3D view of the tissue. Thankfully the staff at the hospital were so nice and professional and made the experience a lot less awkward then anticipated. I was then asked to take a seat in the waiting area not knowing what was going on, but becoming very nervous that things weren’t looking good.
After a couple minutes, I was taken into another imaging room where I was advised that they would be doing a biopsy to check the tissue from the lump. The doctor came in to freeze my breast and then conducted an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy where he removed 3 samples from the lump. Once finished, he turned to me and was frank about what they saw from the images – the lump was not a cyst, was not a fibrous tissue, and it was highly likely that it was cancerous. Although my nerves were telling me things weren’t right, I was not expecting to hear the dreaded C word – CANCER.
Leaving my appointment and in the days following, I went through so many emotions: shock, anger, guilt, sadness. How could this be? Did I bring this on myself? Could I have done something differently in my life to avoid this? What am I going to do??? By the time my biopsy results came back 4 days later to confirm it was in fact breast cancer, I had come to accept that this was my journey and it was time to stay strong and start fighting this beast.