Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Words I Never Thought I'd Say

I have cancer.

Saying it out loud the first time is the hardest, but it gets easier after that. Six months ago, at my post-partum pap, my obgyn did a breast exam and thought he felt cysts. Since I was nursing at the time, I couldn't have a mammogram so he sent me in for an ultrasound. They did find cysts, but said they were too small for him to have felt. He most likely felt milk ducts. Because they did find regular nothing-to-worry-about cysts, he wanted me to go back in 6 months for a mammogram (or another ultrasound if I was still nursing) to make sure they weren't growing.

I had my first ever mammogram on the 10th.

The mammogram itself wasn't that bad. They did, however, find something. The radiologist said it didn't appear to have any "alarming characteristics," so they thought it was probably another cyst. An ultrasound was scheduled for the following Tuesday to be sure it was just a cyst. After doing the ultrasound, the tech went to show the radiologist (totally normal, they did the same thing the first time). When she came back with the radiologist, I started to worry. He told me they still thought it was a cyst, but it appeared to be a "complex" cyst because it had a thick wall around it. Still nothing to worry about, but the chance of it being malignant went up a bit. He ordered a biopsy just to be on the safe side.

I went back, for a third time in as many weeks, last week for the biopsy. They were still talking cyst, and weren't too concerned about it. I was to come back again Monday for the results, something routine in this office no matter the results. On Monday, they called and told me to come back yesterday instead because they didn't have my results yet.

The constant waiting is the worst! And now they wanted me to wait a couple more days! All of us went back yesterday to hopefully get good news and be done with all of this. It didn't turn out that way.

I have cancer.

This is probably the scariest news I've ever been given about myself. No one ever wants to hear the "C" word. Once we got over the initial shock and fear, however, we discovered it's not a death sentence. I don't have breast cancer; it just happens to be in my breast. I have a very rare form of cancer, and it was caught extremely early.

I met with the surgeon today to discuss my lumpectomy. My type of cancer, dermatofibrosarcoma, is a slow-growing type and will not spread to other parts of my body. It does tend to be difficult to get it all, though, because she said it has little "tendrils" that make it necessary to take out a very wide margin around the lump. If they don't get all of the "tendrils," I'll need radiation because it will come back. Since mine is so small, she's very optimistic she'll get it all and I won't need to go there. She's planning on taking a chunk a good couple inches in diameter out of my boob. Thankfully, I have big boobs, so she was confident it wouldn't affect me too much, cosmetically. Besides the big scar I'll have right in my cleavage.

Dermatofibrosarcoma is so rare it often goes undetected for years before any action is taken. The surgeon said she was very worried for me when she heard what it was because at best, she's had to take a good quarter of boob. At worst, she's had to do a full mastectomy, including removing a good portion of chest muscle. She said my sarcoma was the smallest she's ever seen in her 25 years of being a surgeon! I'm so fortunate my obgyn mistook my milk ducts for cysts! It would've been at least 5 years before my first mammogram otherwise.

Someone from the surgeon's office will be calling me in the morning to schedule my lumpectomy. In the meantime, I have a mole on my boob that will be coming off Tuesday. Yes, same boob (I can't catch a break!). She wants me to go ahead with that, and we'll schedule the surgery for a couple weeks later, after I've healed.

Once the surgery is over, we'll get the pathology results in about a week. She did warn us that because it's so rare, pathology will most likely get a second opinion and it may take longer than a week for the results. That's exactly what happened with my biopsy. If I get the all-clear, I'll be going in for mammograms and ultrasounds every 6 months for 2-3 years. If not, well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I have cancer. But I'll be fine.

32 comments:

libbie said...

you're in my thoughts. I'm not sure what else to say but that I will think of you.

fivemonkiesreview said...

So true darlin! You will be alright. Prayers are being said for you all over. Hugs. So glad you have an amazing obgyn. Remember to send em a thank you card.

Marinka said...

I am very sorry, but I'm grateful that it was discovered so early. I wish you the very best, you'll be in my thoughts.

Meghan Justice said...

I am so glad they caught it so early! You are in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep us updated!!

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

It's times like this when an excellent doctor makes all the difference. How fortunate that yours pursued this!

You seem to have such a good outlook, and that is wonderful to see. Very best of luck with the lumpectomy and I'll be wishing for a quick and carefree recovery!

Amy said...

I'm so glad they caught it and it's slow moving. I will think of you - it sounds like a very positive prognosis! Hang in there.

Mike and Jill said...

So glad you posted an update with an explanation. For me, the unknowns are the toughest. I was thinking of you all afternoon. Your awesome attitude, positive thinking and sounds like great care will do wonders! I hope you give the C a swift kick in the booty!
j

Heather said...

Oh Brandi, I'm so sorry to hear about this. I'm so glad they caught it early and that they're being aggressive about treating it. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts while you work your way through this process.

HJC said...

DARLING!!! YOU ARE SURROUNDED WITH LIVE AND PRAYERS! I am praying for you always!!!

Cecilia said...

I just wanted to let you know that I will be thinking of you and praying for you. Your post is so optimistic and I truly believe that positive thoughts go a long way. How great that you have big boobs! And what an amazing mama your girls have!

Brandi said...

Wow! Thanks everyone! LMAO Cecilia! It's definitely a good thing I have plenty to spare.

Missy said...

Brandi, thank you for sharing your story. It has definitely opened my eyes - I am 29 and have never had a mammogram and probably should. My prayers and thoughts go out to you!

Missy said...

Brandi, thank you for sharing your story. It has definitely opened my eyes - I am 29 and have never had a mammogram and probably should. My prayers and thoughts go out to you!

Heather said...

Oh, Brandi! You are in my thoughts and prayers. I can't imagine how scary it must have been to receive this news. It sounds like you have a great medical team who is very on top of things. And you are surrounded by love, best medicine there is. Prayers and hugs to you,
Heather

Heidi said...

Brandi, I read this last night right before bed and didn't know what to say.
I am amazed by your positive outlook, grateful to your doctors for their quick action and your follow-up. Based on your post you have a very optimistic view and you will be surrounded with prayers. I pray that has you attack this head on the Lord would sustain you, your husband and those sweet girls. You will kick cancer in the butt. And bonus for big boobs.. :o)

Rachael said...

oh brandi, i am so sorry that you had to receive this news. it must have been incredibly scary at first, but you really seem to have a positive outlook + that is so important as your body heals. i will be keeping you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I have everyone I know praying for you!

Love always,

Mommy

jodifur said...

you are in my thoughts. I wish you all the best. This was such a brave and amazing post.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

You are certainly in my thoughts and prayers and I am praising God that it was found when it is so small- what a blessing!

WM said...

I love your positive outlook. I imagine it's such a challenge to stay positive in light of such news.

I'm wishing you all the best (and if it helps any- my mom got a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007, had bilateral mastectomy, chemo and radiation and is now doing wonderfully)

Dawn Johnson Warren said...

Beautiful post. You are in my prayers, may you always be fine.

Brandi said...

Thank you so much! You have no idea how much your love and support means to my family and me right now! Unfortunately, they didn't call me today to schedule the surgery, so I have to wait until Monday to know more.

Brandi said...

Thank you so much! You have no idea how much your love and support means to my family and me right now! Unfortunately, they didn't call me today to schedule the surgery, so I have to wait until Monday to know more.

toddlerplanet said...

Hi, Brandi. Jodifur pointed me to your site today. I've just completed tons of treatment (for a much more advanced cancer) and have come out the other side.

It sounds like your cancer is quite treatable. That's really good news! No, really, it is.

The next few weeks may seem like a whirlwind; hang in there, and if it helps, write about it. People are amazingly willing to help.

If you need to talk, feel free to email me or visit me & my friends at Mothers With Cancer. We're just a bunch of bloggers writing our way through treatment too.

Maureen said...

I'll be thinking of you for sure. It's great that it was caught so early, and that you have such a great attitude about everything. I'm sure you will be fine. Too bad they can't take the mole with the lump.

Lorri said...

HI, I too saw your blog mention at Mothers with Cancer. Just stopping by with support. I was 39 a year and a half ago when we found my cancer. I'm also in Colorado and if you need anything or have any questions, let me know (you can email through my blog.) Best wishes! Love, Lorri S.

http://www.lorriscancerupdates.blogspot.com/

throwslikeagirl74 said...

Hi Brandi! I'm hopping over from Mothers With Cancer. So sorry you had to join the club nobody wants to be in. :P Like Lorri, I also live in Colorado. You can contact me if you want over at my blog.

www.throwslikeagirl74.wordpress.com

Sounds like you've got great people working with you!

Nicole

Laura said...

Brandi, you have been in my thoughts since I heard the news a few days ago. I am glad that the prognosis seems pretty good. I will continue to pray for you and let me know if I can do anything.

RivkA with a capital A said...

It does get easier. I hope you get past this soon!

Thanks for sharing!

Spruce Hill said...

Sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41. Did chemo and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. I am a year out and am doing very well.

I wish you a speedy recovery and am sending some prayers your way!

SaraBelle said...

Oh wow -- I'm just catching up on your blog. I wanted to share that you will be in my thoughts. It sounds like you have a great plan going forward and I know from personal experience that having a positive attitude (and family support) is so key.

Sugar Boogers & Tantrums said...

Hugs Brandi, I will be praying for you.