Cancer Schmancer…

You won't keep me down
Breast Cancer Ribbon

Day 1 (But seriously…feels like day 100)

posted by:

Today I had my appointment with my surgeon Dr. L to find out if I had cancer.  When I got there, I noticed an older gentleman on the elevator up to the breast clinic.  I wondered if this could be my surgeon and scanned his demeanor and facial expressions.  When we walked in the receptionist greeted him “good morning Dr. L” and he walked on back.  The week long wait had been making me paranoid and when I checked in I studied the receptionist face as well as she looked at my file.  I was looking for signs, of pity or really just anything, I felt like I was going crazy with worry.

The week prior was the hardest week of my life.  Uncertainty mixed with anxiety did not help me and I had a really hard time centering and remaining positive. Friends and family were incredibly supportive but I knew that they were scared for me as well and possibly a little annoyed with my anxiety.   They would reassure me that things would turn out fine, that 8 out of ten biopsies turned out to be negative for cancer, that I was young and that the lump was small and in a place where my under-wire probably rubbed and caused a cyst or some thing similar.  I understood all this and tried to rationalize everything but my anxiety would take over and I would research more and make myself more crazy and paranoid.  My biggest fear was that it had spread to other parts of my body through my enlarged lymph nodes. I envisioned my body full of cancerous cells multiplying and attack other good cells.  I prepared myself (as much as I could) for the worst-case scenario.  I rolled played what was going to be said to me and tried to work out good ways to handle the news.  I also envisioned great news and thought about how happy I would be and how I should never take anything, especially my health for granted.



After being called into the office, my sister S, my boyfriend G and I sat down and talked with the nurse Kelly that I met earlier in the week.  She explained that they didn’t yet have the biopsy results but that I would still meet with the surgeon.  That went all right.  He seemed very nonchalant and explained the findings from the ultrasound and mammogram.  He told me that it cannot be diagnosed cancer without the biopsy results but again the growth was suspicious.  He proceeded to do a physical exam of the lump and of my lymph nodes.  I explained how nervous I was (which I was sure he could tell by the sweat pooled in my armpits, grody) and he left the room and told us to meet him back in the office.


He returned to the office and told us that he got the verbal results from the biopsy.  It was cancer.  I didn’t react much as I kind of expected this.   After this I was kind of numb.  I kind of walked through the rest in a kind of dream like state.  Like I was looking in on this, not really a part of it.  I am so fortunate that my sister S and boyfriend were there.  I was lucky to have them help me.  I felt so supported and taken care of at that moment and still to this day.  I don’t know if I thanked them for being with me, as I seriously couldn’t get by without them.  I think I would have crumpled; all I had really wanted to do was roll into a ball and go to sleep.  But they were there with me, and a HUGE help.


I asked if it was in the lymph nodes and he said no.  I was incredibly relieved.  He said that this was positive news but that sometimes the biopsy doesn’t get all the cells or nodes and that it still may contain cancer in the other nodes.  I felt a little more anxious but was happy to finally have some answers.


He went through some options but seemed a little unsure what the best treatment would be as it is unclear if I had the breast cancer gene.  He explained that they would normally do a lumpectomy since the cancer was small, remove some (if not all nodes) and treat with radiation but since I might have the gene he had mixed feeling about treating me with radiation as the chance of it recurring is higher.  Radiation should not be used on the same area more than once, they say, so they had to make sure to pick the best time.  He was also concerned about my age, having cancer at 33 is rare (1 in 1000) and I really want to have children, so he wants to do the least intrusive treatment for this.  We discussed freezing my eggs before treatment and were told that my hormone estrogen levels will have to be tested because my cancer may have been escalated or caused by an imbalance.  It is super complicated, this cancer.


I got home with an arm full of reading material.  My plan was to nap, as I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before and from the stress.  I wasn’t able to.  I called my work to book the next day off and was happy about how supportive they were.  I love my work, my students and especially my coworkers so I don’t want to take any unnecessary time off (I also know it will help keep my mind at bay as I’m prone to worry).

Can I feel it?

I told my friends and family, well S and G did (thank you!) People reacted differently; some were sad, some worried and some happy.  Not happy in the euphoric way but more in the relieved way that at least it wasn’t worse.  I heard that I was lucky a lot.  I don’t feel lucky, I mean I am VERY happy and relieved that I’m not dying but for goodness sake I have cancer. CANCER.  It is not something I ever wanted, not anything I wished for but I have it and do not feel lucky for it.  I hate that I have to go through this and I know that it could be so much worse.  A lot of people have it so much worse.  My friend is paralyzed; another friend’s coworker just got diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Those are so much worse.  I know this but can’t help but feel a little sorry for myself.  Why me?  Why now? What caused this?  Was it my antiperspirants, my love of tuna, or just a fluke? I don’t think I will find all the answers anytime soon.  I just need time to get use to this.  Yes it’s treatable but I still have a long road ahead with testing (staging, genetic and hormone), treatment (surgery and chemical) and than more future testing.  I’m worried that I won’t be able to have children after this.  I’m worried that it will come back more forcibly; hopefully this will not always be in the back of my mind but for now it is.  It is not everyday you get diagnosed with cancer.

During the week coming up to my diagnosis my boyfriend and I promised each other that we will make each day count, not live as zombies as so many of us are prone to do.  We will live well and strong and do everything that makes us happy.  Never take life for granted.

I was so scared that I was going to get a death sentence.  I didn’t want to die young not doing all that I wanted to do.  I’m happy to know that not going to die from this but I still am unhappy with the diagnosis.  One thing I do know for certain is that I am done being a zombie.  I am going to stop procrastinating; I’m going to live.  So thank you cancer, thank you for the wake up call.  I needed it!

Leave a Reply

Featuring Recent Posts WordPress Widget development by YD