Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Me and Cancer--Not a Love Story

How did this all come about? How did I discover the lump of coal in my boobie? One day in March, about four months ago, I felt a little tenderness on what felt like a ridge on my right breast. It bothered me for about a week, and then I went to see my family doctor.

The way the medical system works in Canada is that you go to see your family doctor for everything, and then s/he refers you to a specialist, orders tests, and all that other junk. It doesn't cost the patient anything in most cases, and the doctor just gets paid for your visit.

So I went in, and Dr. M. felt my boob a few times, and said that all he felt was "fullness." I'm not familiar with that medical term, but I guess it was full. Whatever that meant. He said it was nothing, wrote down "benign appearance" on my chart, and told me to come back if it got worse. That was on March 26th.

I went about my business, went to Asia, came back--lump still there. I could still feel it, and it was tender. But one night, there was a shooting pain in my chest where the lump is, and I'm like, really, that can't be normal. In terms of size, it was about the same. So I went in the doctor's a second time in the middle of June.

But Dr. M. wasn't there. Instead, there was a nice lady named Dr. S. She examined me and told me that it was some kind of cyst, probably benign, and she gave me a requisition for an ultrasound. She said they'd probably just drain it and that was it. She also told me that it might take 3 months to get that ultrasound appointment.

Perhaps because of my age, both Dr. M. and Dr. S. weren't so concerned that it was cancer. But at least Dr. S. had enough sense to order me an ultrasound. I still don't know why Dr. M. didn't do that in the first place, OVER THREE MONTHS AGO! It doesn't cost him anything! Argh!

Anyway, luckily, I was able to get an ultrasound appointment in two weeks. So I went in for my ultrasound on July 5th.

I watched the monitor and saw three obvious black blobs--two larger ones near the surface, and one small one deeper down in my breast. The radiologist came in and was concerned. She said that I was going to do a mammogram right away as well.

So I did the mammogram--and then another one, which was more magnified, and that was that. The radiologist, Dr. G., said that the Women's Hospital was booked full for the week, but that she would get me in first thing Monday morning for a core biopsy.

When I got there at my scheduled time, 7:30 am, the center was closed. They didn't open until 8 am! About a couple minutes later, the receptionist walked in, and they were expecting me right away! They basically opened up for my appointment, half an hour early.

While I was getting ready for the biopsy, Dr. G. told me that they saw a lump in my lymph node during the mammogram and that she would biopsy that site as well. She froze my armpit and used a regular needle to dig around in there--which didn't feel all that great. Lots of nerves in the pit, so it was kind of uncomfortable even with the freezing.

Then she began the core biopsy. It's like a big needle that they attach a stapler gun type thing to. So she stuck the needle in (after freezing my boob, of course), positioned it according to what she saw on the ultrasound, and fired away. It sounds lile a stapler gun. It was all fine until she went to get the small cyst deep down--the freezing didn't exactly find its way down there, so I felt that one. Ouch.

Three days later, my family doctor called, and I went in and was given the diagnosis, which was pretty vague. I just have cancer. That's all I know.

I have to say that things are moving so much more quickly than they should. Everything has been expedited for me, and I don't know if that's because of my age, or if it's because of my stage (which I don't know right now), or both. So it's nice to get the attention right away, but it also makes me think crazy thoughts, like, "is it that bad?"

I guess I'll find out later this afternoon.

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