February 13, 2009
Because it’s been a little more than two weeks now, I’ve already yo-yo’ed through a million different emotions and stages of denial, depression, grieving, etc… But, before I go into any of that, I should fill in a couple of details. (Just so you know, this blog won’t necessarily be in chronological order, but I’ll do my best to have it make sense.)
I found a lump at the top of my left breast on Sunday, January 18th. No, I wasn’t doing a self-breast exam. I’ve never been a fan of self-breast exams (more on that later). Instead, I noticed a soreness in my breast while I was lying on my stomach in bed. Curious, I rolled onto my back and felt around a bit. The only thing I noticed was a little tenderness at the site of a small mole. I chalked the pain up to the mole, thinking maybe my bra had irritated it the day before. An hour or so later, in the shower, my attention was drawn to the area again, and this time I felt a lump. As it turned out, I could only feel the lump when I was standing up.
I called my doctor the next day. I saw her on Tuesday, January 20th. As expected, she felt it and said, “yep, you’ve got a lump.” Her nurse made an appointment for me to get a mammo at Bloomington’s only imaging facility. The appointment was for February 2nd, nearly two weeks away. I slogged home through snow and ice, veggied out on inaugural coverage, and resigned myself to waiting 14 days to take the next step in the discovery process. Thank god my sister called. Always level-headed in an emergency, she pointed out that waiting two weeks with a lump I could feel would be torturous. She encouraged me to call imaging centers in nearby towns. I took her advice, picked up the phone, and found a breast center in Indy where they could see me the following Monday.
On January 26th, I had a full day of mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies. The radiologist obviously didn’t like what she saw but reassured me that it was probably nothing. More precisely, her exact words were “you’re not the right age for this.” Back at home, I looked up a couple of stats and found out that 80 percent of breast cancer cases happen in women over 50. And that, as a woman in my 30s, my risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer was 1 in 233. Of course, that was cold comfort because barely 48 hours later, at noon on January 29th, during what turned out to be Bloomington’s worst snow storm in 31 years, a very sweet woman from the breast center called to tell me that I had cancer.