Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Know Your Boobies

Update.. check out this post and this post from Smart Mouth Broad. She works for a breast surgeon and it was her wise advice that sent me off to find the best breast imaging on Oahu.

Part Three. Here are parts one and two if you want the whole story. Also, the featured post under the sunset has been updated....

As a general rule of thumb, I’d have to say that if and when your doctor calls you up personally to tell you the results of an ultrasound on a suspicious breast lump, and if that doctor says that she wants you to come to her office to explain the results to you in person, and if on top of that it is Sunday and her office is closed and she is there by herself doing paperwork so she asks you to knock on her back/private entrance to her office….

You get where I’m going with this, right?

Let’s just say I knew the news wouldn’t be good.

When I arrived at my doctor’s office, she grabbed a box of tissue and set it by me. Also not a great sign.

As she explained the radiologist’s report, I got that ache in the chest you get just before you start balling your eyes out. Which wasn’t good at all. I had questions to ask and being all choked up made it difficult to get my words out.

She was patient with me. And dead on honest at the same time.

I had a couple of options. I could get a needle biopsy or a core needle biopsy to confirm the radiologist’s suspicions. Then if his suspicions were correct I could go in for surgery. Or I could go straight to surgery and a lumpectomy and have the entire thing biopsied.

My doctor recommended the last option. Radiologists have a scale for rating a lump’s possibility for malignancy. The scale is 0-6. Zero means definitely benign and six means diagnosed and definite cancer. My lump earned a five. My gynecologist showed me the film. The lump looked a little like tooth, with roots and all. She explained how those roots were what made it highly suspicious, along with its odd shape and its inability to move freely when palpated. Fibroids and cysts are more or less the opposite of all that.

Fast forward a couple weeks later and I am post surgery and in my surgeon’s office discussing the lump biopsy report. My breast cancer had started in a milk duct, and had burst from the milk duct. Its size was between one and two centimeters. It was a fast growing type of cancer, but had been caught early and no cancer had shown up in any of the lymph nodes they removed.

As a nice balance of exposing the medical douche bags from yesterday’s post, I will pause here to report that my surgeon is an amazing doctor and awesome human being. It was my surgeon who always had time to answer my questions and never seemed in a hurry to rush me out. He is also a leukemia survivor. He gave me the sound advice to take as much medical leave as I could garner up; that the chemotherapy and radiation treatments would put my body through hell and the best thing I could do was rest and sleep and let myself heal as much as possible while the treatments beat up my healthy body while attacking the cancer. I would pass this advice on to anyone who goes through cancer treatments.

If you remember from part one, my mammogram in October had not shown the lump. I found the lump myself during a self breast exam 5 months later. My surgeon said that all women, but especially for someone like me, with fibrocystic, dense breasts to begin with, self exam is an important front line of defense against breast cancer. Had I not found the lump, I was not scheduled for another mammogram until the following October – seven months later. At the rate that little fucker was growing, seven months would have made a huge difference. Life changing perhaps.

So ladies. Feeeel yourself.

In honor of October, and breast cancer awareness month, please click on the pink ribbon in the sidebar and help someone get a free mammogram.

37 comments:

Amy said...

I am so glad you had a wonderful surgeon to help you through this. I am glad you posted this for others to read. Then we can be more aware. Thanks again. I am so happy I met you and got to read and know your story...

Have a great day...

Cairo Typ0 said...

A great doctor really does make the difference. Thw last time my mother found a lump her doctor was ineffectual and really didn't help her through the process. Her doctor this time was amazing - he ruffled feathers in the doctor hierarchy if he knew it would result in better care for my mother. She felt her doctor cared and that made her feel so much better at each stage.

Linda said...

Pseudo- I haven't been here for a while so I didn't know. It is so strange how I think of people I have never met and have never met me while I am in the shower- LOL I read in the paper how schools in Hawaii were going to close on Fridays and i thought of you.
I don't think I have ever commented on your blog- but I jump over now and then from Jan's Sushi and 24. All that said- You have my thoughts and best wishes to recover wholely from this and be WELL. (((hugs))) PS.. I did a self exam last week in the shower also.

Linda T

Jeanne said...

This is a terrifying story, wonderfully and bravely told. Thanks for sharing this -- hoping everyone who reads it becomes a self-palpater.

I, of course, always feel a lump, because I have a BB in my leftie. Finally got to see it for the first time last year, when I got my first digital mammogram.

And still can't understand why, when I forget to mention said BB, they call me to ask if I was wearing a necklace.

Because, honestly, that thing looks nothing like my shell-casing earrings....

ds said...

Your doctor and the surgeon both sound like wonderful people--physicians who put their patients first (unlike yesterday's "douche canoes"). Thank you for so candidly sharing your experience. So so glad they--you!!--caught it early. You are one gutsy Pseudonymous High School Teacher!!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

You were lucky with your surgeon. I don't do the self exam nearly enough, but I try and impress upon my daughters how important it is. Hypocritical, I guess. I need to be better.
Thank you so much for sharing this!

True Blue Texan said...

I for one, am certainly glad that this all worked out. Who would I had to email out of the blue when I had suspicious results?

Thanks again for listening to a complete stranger babble.

Having a doctor who listens and treats you like a real person is such a treat. Hold on to her. She's a keeper.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Amen for quick thinking and time taking doctors!
I'm very glad you're here to tell the story, Pseudo.

Linda said...

Excellent advice! ANd if you aren't happy with what the Dr is telling you see another one and another one and another one. We know our bodies better than anyone. So glad you're here to tell your story.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I'm so glad you're sharing this story, Pseudo. It means so much more than a poster, a ribbon or a commercial. Real live people get this awful disease and hearing your stories leads many of us to follow thru on what may have been disregarded for a busy schedule....which reminds me....I'm overdue. Can you believe that!

Michele said...

Thank you for stressing the importance of self-exams. Too often I think that women forget.

Christy said...

Wow - what an amazing story. Thanks for sharing, and for the reminder to feeeel myself. So glad your surgeon was a real person, and you found it all in time...

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm glad you had a wonderful doctor, but I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

Jan said...

Let me just say how incredibly GLAD and RELIEVED I am you found it in time.

(((Pseudo)))

Kristan said...

Andy can tell you how rare this is: I have no words.

{hug}

Cristin said...

Yay for surgeons who also happen to be human beings!!

You kick ass.

mo.stoneskin said...

Thanks for sharing, I don't know quite how to react and find it hard to comment, well, it is easy to comment but you know what I mean. ;)

Hit 40 said...

OMG!! I have a tear in my eye. Did you have to find out this information by yourself!!! I had to find out that I had MS by myself. I will never NEVER forgive my workaholic husband for this. ASSHOLE!!

When I had the MRI to check out my vertigo, the tech said that they were sorry that it took so long to complete the MRI due to seeing something. They would not say what!! So... I knew that something was wrong.

My husband said that he would go to the appointment with me only to back out at the last minute saying that I would be just fine by myself. So...

I got to hear the news by myself. Sorry for unloading.

My friends have had similar experiences. We are now linked up as hospital buddies. If one of us needs to go to the doctor/xray/etc...we have someone to tag along with us and to drive us home. Driving the car home with this kind of info sucks!!!

I am seriously having a tough time forgiving him. I don't know how to let it go. I don't feel like I could ever depend on him if the chips were down.

only a movie said...

Yep. I'm due for a mammosquish. Thanks for the heads up.

Thanks for putting me under your sunset.

I am so thankful that you are here to tell this important story.
xxoo

blueviolet said...

I heart you. So much.

Erin@TLLI said...

Thanks for sharing and thanks for continuing to make my days.

Beth said...

While I hate that you had to have breast cancer, I'm glad you are a survivor and in a position to spread the word about self-exams. You are such a strong woman!

Irish Gumbo said...

Clicks done and in.

Madam, I bow before your strength. Thank you for sharing this, and I wish you good luck, good health and happiness.

Mrs. K said...

holy crap! my God everyone around me! I'm so glad you caught it so early...i just felt myself up after reading your story. PLEASE keep on top of this- so what's next? you're all done? goodness, you made me tear up....hugs

otin said...

I am glad that you found it, I am glad that you are helping others, and most of all, I am glad to say that you are one of my friends!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

You already know how much I adore you and how proud I am of you for sharing your story! Big hugs!

Mrsbear said...

Just read the three part series. Wow. Scary that discovering it was almost accidental. Scary all the could-have-beens. Glad you're here to share the story. Now I'm off to feel myself up. ;)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"So ladies. Feeeel yourself."


I'm feeling, I'm feeling.

♥ Braja said...

It's the week for it, isn't it? I read that somewhere. I think. Good on you, Pseudo....

Gaston Studio said...

Thank God you're smart enough to feel yourself up and smart enough to get a really great doctor who knew what they were doing and smart enough to take his and her advice. Whew, Pseudo! Good on you, girl!

Kristan said...

Hmm, and in a timely, somewhat confusing move... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/health/21cancer.html

Captain Dumbass said...

I'm going to go feel up Supreme Leader. It's for a good cause.

Kathryn Magendie said...

oh! I did not know this was happening to you *hug* -- and I am ashamed of myself for not doing breast exams - and I am late for my mammogram -- shame on me!

please keep us updated ....!

Now I need to do what I should be doing - I know someone else who had the same experience as you - mammogram didn't show it- but she found it or her doctor did on a routine exam....scary isn't it?

theycallmejane said...

Thank you for sharing your very personal story and this valuable information!

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Wow. ((HUGZ!!)) Glad you got through all that - and are here to tell the story. I'm going to be feeling myself up more often, now. :)

The Crap Blog Detective said...

I was looking up "Narcissism" on an online dictionary, and the definition contained a link to your "The Thank You for Being My Follower Contest" blog.

I understand what it means now

shaunna said...

oh, baby.

when the doctor shoved that box of tissue across the desk at me i dashed any tears from my eyes and stated, "this is just so totally fucked."

i heard thru the grapevine that i was the talk/amusement of the medical scene around this town for a while.

(but) i still feel the same.

it's just so totally, totally fucked.