Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You never know unitl you know...

I come to you with ramblings from a mind that couldn't sleep but a couple hours.  I decided that I would tell you how I came to find my lump, getting my cancer diagnosis, selecting doctors, getting support, and taking it day by day.

I woke up one morning with breast pain.  I thought that was odd.  I must have slept on it wrong.  It lasted through the morning.  I decided that night that I better do a self breast exam.  Yes, I think I feel a lump.  I had hubby check.  Yep, it feels like one.  I have already had one lump removed 10 years prior.  It has been determined that I have lumpy boobs.  I call the doctor the following morning.  I know the drill that will occur.  This is where I get incredibly nervous and start to sweat and apologize for being sweaty to the doctor who feels the lump and orders an ultrasound and mammogram.  Go to get these tests.  Again apologize for getting sweaty from being nervous and smelly because you aren't allowed to wear deodorant for mammograms.  Get told that along with a lump on the right that I also have calcifications on the left.  Now have to get biopsies on both boobs.  Get biopsies.  The numbing medication didn't work with one.  Definitely felt the punch biopsy as sample was ripped from boob.  Ouch!!!!  Wait while everyone tells you everything will be fine.

The call.  Hello Mrs. says the doctor.  I think not a good sign the doctor not a nurse.  He continues to say I'm sorry but you have breast cancer.  The doctor continues to tell me over the phone that it looks like it has been there a while.  This is where my perfect little world turned upside down and crashed over my head.  Hubby is out of town.  I text 'call me now.'  I call my mom and while crying spit out I have cancer.  She immediately says I'm on my way.  The next thing I did was call a dear friend from my old MOPS group from church.  I knew I just wanted immediate prayers.  Within the hour, I had a member from the group that lives in my neighborhood show up with a much needed hug.  I grapple with the news and an appointment is made with a breast surgeon for the next day.  Hubby gets a flight home that night from Boston to Indy to be with me.

Surgeon one, who we will name Dr. It's Up to You tells me my surgery options and orders an MRI for the following week.  With only one day of this knowledge under my belt, I was pretty much a pool of tears.  Thank goodness I had my hubby with me.  I didn't get anything straight that the surgeon said.  I get the MRI and get told that they aren't concerned with anything other than the lump I found.  Something about the surgeon just giving me my options to let me decide just  wasn't enough for me.  I ask around and get recommended to another breast surgeon for a second opinion.  I will call her Dr. Action.  I meet with her and know she needs to be my doctor.  I asked her what she would do and she told me what she "did" when she had her breast cancer.  That sealed the deal.  She told me what I needed to do for the best end results.  I liked, no, I needed someone who had experience with this to tell me what to do.  Dr. Action sent me directly to see an oncologist at 6:30 at night who stayed and answered our questions until 7:30.  So, now I knew I had a dedicated oncologist who coincidentally was my father's oncologist.  It just seemed like it should be so since she is referred to by first name in our family because of my father's 5 years with her.

I get a call the next day from Dr. Action.  Her and her radiologist has taken another look at my MRI and think they have spotted more tumors.  I get scheduled for a second look ultrasound.  I am floored.  How did Dr. It's Up to You and her radiologist say everything is okay but my original lump and Dr. Action an another radiologist see more???  Go in for ultrasound at 9:00.  Have 3 techs in ultrasound to find all of these allusive tumors and mark for a biopsy that day!  Dr. Action has to go to surgery.  I come back in an hour and a half.  By 4:00 that afternoon, I walk out after having a painful 3 more biopsies with a total of 3 techs and Dr. Action in the room.  Who knew you could have a small party for a biopsy?  I'm an emotional mess.

Results come back that yes, I do have three additional cancerous tumors.  This is where I impart the lesson on getting a second opinion.  If I would have followed Dr. It's Up to You least invasive options, I might of had a lumpectomy with chemo and never have known of the other tumors.  Therefore, I might be right back at square one in who knows how long.  How could two different doctors and two different radiologist see completely different things looking at the exact same MRI????  This is where I thank God for Dr. Action.  I am right where He knows I should be and need to be.  

Are you guys still with me?  I did warn you about my rambling thoughts right?!  Okay, here we go again.  So, now I have been diagnosed with Stage II Invasive ductal carcinoma.  My biggest tumor is between 2 to 3 cm and 3 of the 4 tumors are grade II and one a grade III.  The plan has become chemo, double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery, and a lifetime of thoughts of recurrence.  Before I can begin, I have to have test for my heart due to being born with a whole in my heart.  Not only will chemo kill the cancer and many other healthy cells, it can be toxic to your heart as well.  So, now I have an additional worry that maybe the cancer won't kill me but my ticker will give out.  Can it get any worse?  Okay, I have learned not to ask that because you might not like the answer you get.  My heart gets the seal of approval.  This is where the fun starts.

I have 29 lymph nodes removed with only 1 showing cancer.  Blast that one lymph node!!!  It just added another month of chemo to my treatment plan!  I wait a week after surgery for the lymph nodes and port installation before starting chemo.  It felt like I would never  get that darn drain removed.  I get the drain removed on Monday morning.  Eat lunch and get plugged up for chemo.  This is one of the hardest things that I have ever done.  I don't think anyone can understand the fatigue you feel unless you have went through chemo.  I spent all last week feeling like I was on the verge of falling asleep every minute.  No food or drink tasted the same.  By Saturday, my emotions were raw and seeked comfort from my mom.

Monday, I woke up feeling normal.  Just like I had never entered this nightmare.  A great friend of mine had began a blog for people who wanted to bring us meals (thanks Stephanie).  You don't realize how these little things help until you find yourself in need.  I realized that Monday night someone had signed up to bring my family a meal.  I kept looking at the name.  For the life of me, I did not know who this person was.  Then, she showed up.  Let me tell you this just so you understand that you may never know just how much your small actions can affect someone else.  The girl was a parent of my daughter's preschool friend.  I had not really talked to her other than small talk around preschool.  I certainly didn't tell her about my situation.  But there she was, with a wonderful meal.  I felt bad taking the food because I felt so good that day.  I didn't look sick (I still have hair), I didn't act sick or feel sick but gratefully took the wonderful food.  She probably didn't know how impactful her encounter was with me because it didn't fully hit me until she left.  We talked briefly.  She extended help driving my daughter to preschool or having a play date.  I couldn't believe that a casual acquaintance would extend support and help to me.  It was really the last thing she offered that really got me.  It was her prayers.  After she left, I realized that I have never wanted more prayers lifted up to God's ear for me than I do now.  I began to think that if God didn't answer my prayer maybe just maybe he would answer hers.  I believe in the power of prayer.  I know that God is with me.  I know I will be drawing upon his strength as I have already begun to do.  I can honestly tell you that this girl was just the angel I needed to see to remind me of God's love.  So, the lesson is never ever underestimate the impact you may have on someone.  You may never learn of it but know that you can make a difference to someone.  I believe that God put her right where she needed to be at just the right time.

So there you have it, my journey with breast cancer so far.  I have some thrifted items to show you after I get the camera out.  But for now, I thank you for letting me have a journaling therapy session giving you a peek into the ramblings from the mind of a breast cancer gal.  So I leave you with a poem from a card I had given my sister during a difficult time for her that she has since sent back to me.

God has not promised skies always blue,
flower-strewn pathways all our lives though,
God has not promised sun without rain,
joy without sorrow, peace without pain,

But God has promised strength for the day,
rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
unfailing sympathy, undying love.
I pray that you have a healthy and wonderful day!


  1. I read your blog often, have never commented, but today, I just could not just read and not say you inspire me. Perhaps because I have a couple of cousins going through some of the same things you mentioned about your treatment. I have found that prayer, and the smallest of things one does is so greatly appreciated. So glad you have such warmth and goodness around you. I too, will keep you in my prayers. God Bless you, take care.

  2. You are beautiful inside and out! With or without hair. With or without the boobs that God gave you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. There are so many people praying for you- you have no idea how many. You are a survivor! And, next year, you can walk in the Race for the Cure as a Survivor!!!

  3. Powerful story and thank you for reminding me to always check for lumps and changes. I'm glad to hear you found yours when you did. And I too believe in the power of a second opinion. 15 years ago I had a bump on a bone that my doctor blew off... went for a second opinion a few months later when the pain and bump did not go away. It was a tumor. Benign but a tumor that required a bone graft because it had got so large...

    You didn't mention how recent your diagnosis was?

  4. I am so sorry for what you are going through. I have been hearing about a lot of cancer through blogland. It is so horrible. I think a positive attitude and lots of prayers and support are half the battle. You have my prayers! Keep thrifting and doing things to keep yourself positive. You will get a lot of support here, and prayers, I'm sure. Bloggers are awesome!

  5. I'm really sorry you are going thru heart goes out to you. I didn't know you couldn't wear deodorant for a mammogram...I am suppose to have mine Monday and I would have worn it had I not read your post! I will be praying for you!!!

  6. Wow that's quite a post. Thanks for allowing me to have a very small understanding and insight into your journey.....B:)

  7. didnt want to read and not respond - this was a very empowering post. I wish you nothing but the very best as your journey to recovery continues.

  8. Julie, I am praying for you every day! This was such an emotional post for me to read, having had the cancer/chemo experience myself.
    You will get through this, and be so much stronger for it on the other side. This I know for sure!
    It is a HUGE mountain to climb, and you will feel like you can't go another step, but that's when God will carry you.
    Thank you for sharing your journey so far! Stay strong. Please know that I am here to talk anytime you need an ear, or a shoulder!!

  9. Julie it was such an emotional blog and what a great way of sharing your experiences with all of us. Its good that you got the second opinion and you are in my prayers and yes GOD is alwyas going to be with you as you are such a nice person. I wasn't able to help with meals as I wasn't able to sign up in that meal blog but if you need any help please do let me know. And yes if you want me to baby sit Lilly, you are most welcome. It would be nice to spend time with her and she can play with my son Dhruv. Good luck with your treatment and keep up the good spirit!

    Take care


  10. Wow! I'm just trying to get caught up on your story. Praise God for that nudge from Him to get a second opinion. I know your advice in all of these areas is helping someone else out there and thank you for the encouragement that yes, we never know how a simple act God prompts us to do will minister to someone so we always need to be obedient.

  11. Julie, why did they remove 29 lymph nodes if only one was cancerous? I know they end up taking more than necessary but that's an incredible amount. I had, I believe, 23 removed and 20 were cancerous. That's pain enough. But to have 29? Wow. As I write this I think that I already wrote these same questions, but maybe not. Another joy of chemo is it scrambles your brain. On the plus side, it's nice to have a built in excuse! Take care. I'm really glad you're in our family. Pam


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