Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another storm on the horizon?

After I created this blog, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep up with it. I don't have it open to anyone right now, so what's the point? But now it looks like there could be a storm brewing on my horizon and I really need a place to write down my feelings.

In keeping my promise to take better care of myself this year, I decided to do a self breast exam last week. I was overdue for my annual mammogram and decided it was time to take care of the "girls." Wouldn't you know, I found a lump - a very hard lump - in my right breast. Uh oh.

I am no stranger to breast lumps. After I turned 40, the girls turned lumpy. I have had two breast biopsies in the last three years - all of them benign. So I try to examine my breasts on a regular basis but it's hard for me to tell what's what. Is that a new lump? An old lump? Is it something I had before my period? Will it go away after my period? It's all very confusing to me. My girls are dense and lumpy and feel that way every day of the month.

But this lump is different. It is small and hard and easy to feel because it's really more toward my cleavage and not buried deep within my breast tissue. And as soon as I felt it, I knew it had never been there before. I am not sure how long it has been there but I would have to guess and say it's been less than two months.

So I called my doctor and she felt the lump - along with a couple more that I had missed - and gave me the paperwork I needed for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound of both breasts. Off I went to the Ellen Shaw de Paredes Institute for Women's Imaging here in Richmond, Virginia.

I had been going to a different mammography center here in town, and let's just say I did not get a warm and fuzzy feeling the radiologist was thorough enough (more on that later). As I said, my girls are lumpy. This is not my first rodeo. I have had two biopsies before - both at the Jupiter Women's Diagnostic Center in Jupiter, Florida. The radiologist there did not miss a trick. She biopsied everything.

So last week was my first visit to Dr. Paredes' practice. Her credentials are outstanding and her bedside manner is calm and comforting. I am so glad I found her!

Dr. Paredes came in during the ultrasound and looked at both breasts herself. She glided the wand over my left breast - there didn't seem to be much there to concern her. But when she glided the wand over my right breast, she looked more concerned. She zeroed in on the hard lump, took more images and then did something no other doctor had ever done - she looked very closely at my lymph nodes.

I thought she might have seen more lumps in my armpit area but she told me she was just looking at my lymph nodes. She said they were "clear" and "looked good." She wanted me to come in the very next day to get a biopsy of the hard lump which sent me there in the first place. Unfortunately, there weren't any openings last week (Friday) so I had to wait until today to have it done.

Talk about a L-O-N-G weekend. Waiting is not fun.

I did a lot of soul searching over the weekend and kind of prepared myself for bad news. Something about this situation made me think the lump is malignant. I hate to even type that word. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have been somewhat traumatized after losing my mother to cancer in 2007 (more on that later).

Anyway, I spent the entire weekend pretty much talking to myself in my head.

What if it's cancer? What will I do? Where will I get treatment? Is it worth the drive out to Charlottesville to go to the new, state-of-the-art Emily Couric Cancer Center? Why haven't I cleaned up my diet yet? I downloaded "Crazy Sexy Diet" by Kris Carr to my Kindle and started reading. I am a HUGE Kris Carr fan. I wished I could call her directly and beg her to come down to Virginia and wait this out with me.

So here I am - biopsy day. I went in first thing this morning for my appointment. I distinctly remember the nurse telling me last week that I would get my results the day after the biopsy. She said that someone from the office would call me with the results if they were benign - otherwise Dr. Paredes would call me and set up an appointment to come in for a follow up to discuss the findings (not good).

As soon as I walked in this morning, the technician told me they had already set up a follow up appointment with Dr. Paredes for tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 PM.

Huh? She hasn't even done the biopsy yet. Doesn't she need to see the tissue and get the results from the lab?

These were the questions in my mind when the nurse told me about the follow up appointment. I should have asked her directly but I didn't. I just nodded and said, "OK." What am I going to say? It is what it is.

So I wait until tomorrow at 4:30 PM to get the results of this biopsy on this little hard lump about the size of a pea. And while I try to remain positive, I am also trying to prepare myself and be realistic. This doesn't look good. There is a storm brewing on my horizon.

I decided over the weekend that no matter the outcome, I am going to face every day with courage and commitment. I am going to read "Crazy Sexy Diet" and start making those dietary changes that I so desperately need to make regardless of my biopsy results. Because if not this time, what about next time? I have already dodged two bullets. What makes me think I can dodge a third? I should have taken action three years ago after my very first biopsy.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. I can't go back for a do over although I sure wish I could.

All I can do is arm myself with information, try to stack the deck in my favor and commit myself to doing the very best I can to take care of my God pod (as Kris calls it).

More to come...

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