In early December I noticed a lump in my left breast. Finding these little lumps was nothing new to me. I have what doctors call fibrocystic breast disease, better know in my house as lumpy boobs. Fibrocycstic breasts are very common and despite "disease" being in the name, it's not a disease. I've have several breast exams and nothing was ever cause for concern until this one lump showed up. I didn't rush to my doctor because I knew what it was and I had an appointment with her for the first week of January.
My appointment with Dr. A went pretty much as expected. I showed her where the new lump was and she agreed that it was probably nothing but since it was new and it did feel a little different than the others, we needed to get a better look at it. I was scheduled for a mammogram and an ultrasound before I even left the clinic.
Wednesday, January 11 was my appointment for my mammogram and ultrasound. I got there before my scheduled appointment so they took me in right away. We did the mammogram and I was sent to the hospital for the breast ultrasound. There I waited for a while. About 30-40 minutes later a nurse came up to me and said that the doctor needed more images. Off for another mammogram. This mammogram was a little more painful the the first one because they needed to compress the breast tissue more since they were looking for something specific.
We finish up and I head back to the area where they do the ultrasounds. The tech calls me in and I'm done within 10 minutes. As expected, I have several cysts. I could see them on the screen. I get dressed and wait to hear if I can leave or if I need to see the doctor. Of course, I need to see the doctor.
I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally, I asked the nurse what was taking so long. I had been waiting for over 1 hour and I really wanted to get home. She calls me back to tell me, "The doctor is too busy to talk and he hasn't had lunch yet." Nice, huh? She goes on to say that I have 5 masses. 3 in the left breast and 2 in the right. She sends me off saying someone will contact me soon to discuss the biopsy.
Later that afternoon someone does call and explains things a little bit better. She said that I do have a total of 5 masses but 4 look to be cysts. 1 is a solid mass, it didn't show up on the ultrasound but it could also be a cyst. They won't know until they try to drain it. She tells me someone will call me to schedule the procedure soon.
I didn't hear anything for a few days and I really didn't tell anyone what was going on. I debated telling the kids because I didn't want to scare them. Granny had breast cancer, twice, so they know what breast cancer is. I didn't want to keep this from them either. Jordan knew already. She's quick and catches bits of info and can piece things together. She was fine. I asked her not to tell Matthew and she said she wouldn't. I decided to tell Matthew a few days before I got a call to schedule the biopsy. I told him that there was going to be a day where someone else might need to pick him up. He asked who and I told him. The first thing he said was, "What if it's breast cancer?" I told him if it was, we would worry about that when the tests came back. He gave me a hug and went on his way.
I got a call on Tuesday, 1/17 to schedule the biopsy. They had an appointment for Wednesday, 1/18 at 10. I took it. We went over everything again and she told me there were only cysts. I had her double check because I was told there was a mass to biopsy and I didn't want to go back if they messed up. I was right.
Wednesday morning I get the kids up and get them off to school. I remind them that someone else might be there to pick them up. Rick and I leave around 8:40. As we're driving to the hospital we drive by the cemetery where Granny is buried. I started crying. It wasn't until that moment that everything became real. But still, I kept all this to myself. I wanted to post on FB and Twitter that I needed thoughts and prayers but I didn't. Only a few people knew what was going on and I wanted to keep it that way.
We get to the clinic and I register. Rick and I are sent to this little waiting area. A nurse calls us into a treatment room and explains that the radiologist is going to hopefully drain the cysts. After that is done I'll have another mammogram done to see if I need the biopsy.
I go change and she calls me into the room. I lay on the table and the radiologist comes in and does a quick ultrasound so she can see where the cysts are. They clean my breast, numb the skin with a spray then the lidocaine shots. I felt the poke but nothing more. She was able to get 2 pretty easily but there were several (5 or 6 in the left breast alone) that were hard to reach. I felt a lot of pressure as she tried to reach those. She was done with the left side in about 10 minutes. I flipped around so she could do the right side. There were only 2 on that side so it took about 5 minutes.
I go back for the mammogram then sit with Rick for a few minutes. A nurse comes out to tell me that I do need to have the biopsy done and they were prepping the room. The mass they were going to biopsy is something that was found on my first mammogram on 1/11. I had no idea there was anything in that spot - I can't feel a lump.
I go into the room and they have me lay on a table with a hole. This type of biopsy is called a stereotactic breast biopsy. It was uncomfortable. you have to lay perfectly still because they need to know exactly where the mass is so they can get a tissue sample from the mass. Again, the skin is numbed with the spray, then the lidocaine shot. The doctor makes a small incision and the computer does the rest. Once it's all done there needs to be pressure applied for 10 minutes so the bleeding stops.
I get up, and I think I had another mammogram done. I don't remember. They put steri strips on the incision and band-aids on the holes where they drained the cysts. I got ice packs to wear inside my bra and I was sent home.
Something that was supposed to take 2 hours turned into 4. I was exhausted and emotionally drained. I know that the chances of having cancer are slim. I was told that 80% of women who have biopsies do not have cancer, and that is great. But my mind kept going to that 20% who do. How many of them are young like I am? How many have young children?
On the way home I had enough. I think I posted on FB that the biopsy was done and I had ice in my bra. About 75% of my FB friends are autoimmune friends and they have always been there for me when I needed them. I was overwhelmed and needed support. So, pretty much everyone knows now.
We got home and I didn't do much of anything. I sat with frozen vegetables on my chest all night. I fell asleep around midnight and didn't wake up until 5:30 PM on Thursday. I'm still tired.
Results should be in late next week. I'm still confident that I'm OK. This experience has showed me how unbelievably stressful a simple biopsy can be for any woman. If I had a strong family history of breast cancer I would, without a doubt, be a complete mess.