My Cancer Journey - the Diagnosis
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
I always used to wonder how you were supposed to tell if a lump you found in your breast was 'the lump.' It's ALL lumpy in there. But I still did the self breast exams...if not monthly then at least every few months.
It wasn't until I actually felt something that I realized that the purpose of monthly self exams is to get to know your breasts so that if you feel something different, you'd know it.
In July 2012, at the age of 50, while I was showering, I did just that. I felt something different in my left breast. On the outside of my left breast, I felt a hardness, not a lump. I waited a week to go see my doctor. I am so grateful to her because she said that instead of just a mammogram she wanted an ultrasound as well.
The mammogram didn't see anything but the ultrasound did. After a biopsy, my doctor's office called me. It was a Friday, early afternoon, and I was told that the results were in and Dr. V wanted to see me on Monday. I said I didn't want to wait until Monday, figuring that if I was being called in it was to tell me I had cancer. Why not just tell me over the phone?
Anyway, they agreed and I went in right away. I later found out that they had wanted to see me on Monday so that I'd have a good weekend before getting bad news. If that was the case, why not just wait to call me until Monday to begin with? :)
When the doctor came into the room, she told me it was cancer, specifically Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (invasive sounds scary, doesn't it!?!)
I grew up with the C word (my mom had colon cancer at the age of 32, my grandma had breast cancer twice, and others with various types) so it wasn't really an "I'm going to die" sort of reaction. Rather, it was a problem to be solved.
When I arrived home, after getting a long hug from, and snuggles with, my husband, I started to research. I found out that Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is the less common form of breast cancer, the most common being Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (lobules feed into the ducts, btw). With ductal cancer, the cancer cells clump together and form a lump which is why a mammogram can see it. Cancer cells in lobular cancer form a line, making it very difficult for a mammogram to spot it. Like I said earlier, I am grateful to my doctor for insisting on both. Had she just ordered a mammogram, who knows how long it would have been before the cancer was discovered!?!
Moral - do self breast exams to get to know your breasts and if you feel something 'different', insist on both a mammogram and ultrasound. And research, research, research.
Next up: Lead up to surgery