So, the cancer. Let me give you the rundown of how this has all gone down so far.
On March 18, during a breast self exam in the shower, I found a lump in my left breast. I’d say my immediate reaction was disbelief. It was like 5:30 in the morning, and The Hubs was still sleeping, and waking him up with “Honey can you feel that lump in my breast” was not something I wanted to do, so I went to work and tried not to think about it. I had case meetings and was super productive.
When I left work, I couldn’t distract myself with complex projects anymore, so I went to our car in the parking garage in The Hubs’ building to wait for him, and while I waited, I felt for the lump again. And there it was, right where I had found it the morning before, at the bottom of my left breast, right where the band of my bra sits. And then I started crying.
When The Hubs got in the car, I told him. And he hugged me and said, “Have you been carrying this around all day?” And I said yes. And he said “It’s OK, we got this. We got this.” Have I ever mentioned that he’s a fucking saint? Because he is. I don’t even have words to express what he means to me.
That night, I told my best friends, including my college BFF, whose awesome mother-in-law died of breast cancer. (SO UNFAIR, practically nobody has an awesome mother-in-law and hers has to die?!?! You see why I think cancer is such an asshole?) Everyone was supportive, because I have awesome people in my life.
The next day, right when they opened, I called my doctor’s office to make an appointment. Of course, my doc was booked up that whole day, so I saw her the following afternoon–that brings us up to Thursday. I also woke up that morning with an insanely sore hip, like, it hurt to put pressure on it. The Hubs came with me to the appointment, and we told the doctor about the lump and the hip. She sent me for a hip X-Ray, which came back negative and so she said “if it’s not better in a few days, see about starting PT.” She also wrote me a referral to a local breast clinic that does mammograms and ultrasounds and all that.
So, I call the breast clinic, and the only time I could get in that week was on Friday at 8AM, which conflicted with our first medication review appointment for The Boy’s ADHD meds. So, I schedule for 8AM on Monday instead. This would be the first of many weekends I would spend trying not to worry about what a test on Monday would show.
I’m going to now share a pro-tip I learned while on bed rest in the hospital after my water broke before The Boy was born. When you have a ultrasound, and the tech says, “I’m going to bring in the radiologist,” that’s a sign you’re about to hear bad news. It’s even worse if the radiologist spends a long time using the ultrasound wand. Both of those things happened that Monday. And I knew. I knew right then that I had cancer. I didn’t need a biopsy report. I didn’t even need the radiologist, a very kind woman, to say “It looks extremely suspicious and we need to do a needle biopsy right away. Do you have time right now?” I cried, quietly at first but with more force when they took me into the wig room (THE FUCKING WIG ROOM) so I would have a quiet place to call my husband while they set up for the needle biopsy. And after the biopsy, she walked me across the hall to make an appointment with a surgeon for Wednesday, when the biopsy results would be back.
After that, I cried some more, and called a bunch of people. My college BFF, even though it was her dead mother-in-law’s birthday. My dear friend and cruise buddy who survived breast cancer in her 40’s. And then I went to work. I mostly sat at my desk and stared into space, or cried. I talked to my sister too. I went home that night and cried some more, and barely slept, and took Tuesday off from work.
And then came the big day, Wednesday, March 26. When the kind radiologist called that morning, she didn’t surprise me with the news that it was cancer, and that it was in a lymph gland. What surprised me was that it was a form of cancer that is extremely rare in the breast. It’s called neuroendocrine cancer, and if you google it and “breast” you’ll find that there’s practically no research on it because it’s so uncommon, let alone in women as young as me. They aren’t even sure the best way to treat it.
I met that afternoon with the surgeon, another very kind woman, who talked to me about the cancer, how big it was, where it was, and how treatment can work. While we talked, her staff were busy setting up zillions of tests for me, so when I walked out of her office, we had a plan for next steps.