Last night, on the evening of the anniversary of my Mom’s death, I found a lump.
After work last night I went to Carvel and got myself a chocolate ice cream cone rolled in colored sprinkles; one of my favorite treats of all time. As I sat and ate that ice cream cone I wondered how many of those cones my Mom had bought me as I was growing up. Hundreds probably. I can tell you that back then – they weren’t $3.49! I went to the grocery store and finally got home. It was a long and sad day and it was about 7:30. I was upstairs changing, the bathroom light was off but there was daylight coming in the bathroom window. I took my cami off and pulled off my bra and with the reflection of the light hitting the mirror I saw it. I could actually see a small nodule on my chest. My heart literally hit the floor. I felt around the little bump and was hoping it was a tendon or something that was not in the form of a lump. Or a bump. Or a nodule. It was between my collar-bone and the top of my breast. Left side, the same side where my cancer was 4 years ago.
I dressed and went downstairs to work in my office on our personal bills and budget and I kept getting up to look in the bathroom mirror to see if that little lump was still there. And it was. As you can imagine, I didn’t sleep well last night.
When I got up this morning the first thing I did was check, yup – still there. I went to work with a heavy heart not saying anything to anyone about this. I emailed my breast navigator and asked her what to do. My oncologist is still on personal medical leave and my surgeon has retired. In waiting for her return email I called Dr Appel’s office. They told me to come in right away….so out of the office I ran telling Ev what was going on and that I had to go. Dr Appel felt the lump and thought it was possibly leftover drama or swollen lymph nodes from my recent capsular tear and all of the swelling I have had for 6 weeks. He also said it could be dead cells from my fat grafting surgery last September. Dr Appel is always proactive so he wanted me to have an ultrasound….he would order one right away. I thank God for this doctor on a regular basis – I am so fortunate to have him in my life. I left his office and went to my already scheduled appointment with my oncology counselor. Does God have perfect timing or what? While I was in her office I missed 10 phone calls and when I came out of my meeting with her I grabbed the last one. Could I get to the Novant Breast Center by 1:30? Could I?? I was five minutes away and it was one o’clock. They must have had a cancellation and once again – the timing was perfect.
As soon as the tech rubbed the ultrasound across my chest she said “well…there it is.” I immediately felt relief because I knew then that I wasn’t crazy. “You actually see something?” I asked. “Absolutely” she said. She did some clicking and measuring and then I knew there was something solid there. They always do that click and measure thing when they see something. She went out to get the doctor and as I laid there I began to really think this through. “What if”….what if my cancer is back? What if it’s triple neg? What if I found the nodule on the anniversary of my Mom’s death? What about the JellyBean? What if? What if? What if? For me, things tend to become crystal clear at moments like this. I lay in that room alone for probably 15 minutes. I remembered what it was like to be diagnosed 4 years ago and I also felt the magnitude of “what if?”
The radiologist came in and put the wand on me – measure, click, tilt, measure, and click. On and on – then he said that he thinks it’s a cyst. It has clear and smooth edges and is flat…apparently cancer is kind of craggly and doesn’t present as smooth. “What about the other one?” the tech asked. He moved his wand over and sure enough – there was another nodule. He also thinks that is a cyst. Phew…the tension left the room and I thanked God for His timing and protection again. These cysts need to be clinically watched over the next month or two and if they grow in the meantime – I will have to go back in…but for now, I am ok. What a great way to find a lump and know, in less than 24 hours, that it is not Mr Lumpcake coming back for revenge or to wage another war on my body. When I was diagnosed last time my healthcare provider was Charlotte Radiology and I tell you, as nice as they were, I had to wait weeks. Not kidding. Weeks. From my original mammogram, to the diagnostic, to my biopsy, it was weeks. Now that I am in the Novant Health Care System it was hours. For this I am extremely grateful and thankful to be taken care of with such professionalism and urgency. I cannot say enough about my doctors and healthcare team – they saved me an awful lot of nail-biting, stomach churning, and mental stress today. I love them.
So, I know I haven’t blogged about this in a while and shame on me. Do your self-exams friends. If you are a cancer survivor, know your body, know your breasts, and LOOK at yourself. Be diligent. If you have a concern, don’t bury your head in the sand – just figure it out. In that same manner, don’t let every single ache and pain make you crazy, but be diligent. A lump or nodule around your breast area or lymph nodes – get them checked. Immediately.
As soon as I got home tonight to change out of my work clothes I saw my area of concern again; plainly and clearly in the mirror. You can bet I will be watching this area like a hawk over the next few weeks/months. Poor Dr Appel is going to have to set up a room with my name on it. Be proactive friends and take care of your health and your body. Please.