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.