Cancer Schmancer…

You won't keep me down
Breast Cancer Ribbon

In the beginning…

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Yesterday marked my 6 month anniversary of having breast cancer.  Well formally I should add. I’ve had a few people ask how I found it and realized that I’ve never written about the days before my diagnosis.  So here goes…


I never use to do daily breast exams, I would mostly check them every few days or once a week or just when I thought of it.  It would make me feel uncomfortable and nervous when I did them and I always thought that since my breasts (and I guess all breasts in general) are lumpy I would never be able to tell if I did find a lump.  Well, I was wrong.  I was in the shower when I found my lump.  I remember reading or hearing about that being the best place to do your exam, and so mostly would check when I soaped up.  So I felt something different, but it wasn’t huge and I couldn’t feel it if I pressed hard.  It felt like a small pea, just under my skin and near where my underwire (of my bra)  would be.  I was concerned, but was also concerned over a small bump near the bridge of my nose.  I showed G both, he had a hard time finding the lump on by breast, like I said you had to feel the skin very lightly and it was small.  But I could feel it, and it was different.  I had a bad feeling about it.

I made an appointment with my doctor right away and went it the next day.  He was not concerned.  He said it was most likely from my underwire and told me not to worry.  He was a little wary over the bump on my nose as he had no idea what it could be so he sent me in for x-rays.  He told me return in a month and he would check things again.  It was a hard month for me, I got more and more concerned over the lump but tried to reassure myself.  I went in for the x-ray and went back to the doctor.  The x-ray results were good but very weird.  I had jaw surgery over 10 years ago, and the bump I could feel was the screw from the surgery.  I was and still very grossed out by that.  I guess I’m sorta like Frankenstein!  Grody! We talked more about the lump, and I pressed him again to get it checked out, he reassured me (again) that it was most likely nothing as I was so young and that it was small but he went ahead and booked me a mammogram.

The day of the mammogram was one of the worst days of my life.  I went there for 8 (I had told work that I was going to  be a little late but should be there for 9am)  I was nervous, but surprisingly not very much and just kind of wanted to get it over and done with.  I reassured myself time and again that it was nothing so I was beginning to believe it. I even told G not to come with me, I was just going to be in and out.  Now, I know differently and I never want anybody to be alone in this situation so please bring someone with you if you find a lump.  I never want anybody to have to go through what I did alone.

So, I got changed and sat in this little waiting area with a handful of other nervous looking women and my named was called and I was brought in for an ultrasound first, they told me they usually do the mammogram first but there was a delay.  There were 2 ladies doing the ultrasound and I pointed out where the lump was and they began.  They saw the lump on the machine and started talking to one another “do you see that?”  “oh wow look at that Aura!”  I asked them if everything was alright, as they were talking amongst themselves and they looked at me kind of like remembering I was still there.  “ummm yes, we are just going to get someone else in here to help read this”.  So one lady left, and the other remained silent, and I just lay there worried.  Two other people returned, and introduced themselves, and they kept talking and ultrasounding.  I remember laughing nervously because there were so many people talking and looking, but no-one was talking with me and one lady looked down at me and asked if I was ticklish. I lied and said yes.  They continued pointing to the the screen and talking amongst themselves, and I started to cry.  One of the doctors, finally recognizing me, asked if I had any questions and I asked the first thing that came to my head and I felt was the most important “Am I going to die?” and she said “no, we are going to take care of you.” And that was that, they didn’t tell me anything else and whisked me off to get a mammogram.  Right after the mammogram they told me I had to stay, and put me in a small room.  They told me they needed to get a hold of the surgeon to book an appointment.  I remember I asked so many times if I had cancer and was told nothing other than ‘we found something suspicious and can’t tell you more’.  I was told I was to have a biopsy for the lump and my lymph nodes.   I waited over an hour by myself in that room.  I called work to say I wasn’t coming in, I called my sister to ask about my grandmother who had cancer and to find out if other relatives had cancer.  I filled out forms after forms but had no answers and was so confused, nervous and scared.  It was horrible.  They finally got a hold of Dr. L (the surgeon) and booked an appointment for June 15.  I remember asking why I needed an appointment with a surgeon if they didn’t know it was cancer and was just told it was a formality.  Now, I know they knew it was cancer from the beginning.  The nurse told me on  the 15th that they knew all along, but they needed it to be confirmed 100% before telling me.

My experiences post mammogram were great, everyone was polite and very professional.  I did complain to the manager of the Breast Clinic about how unprofessional the workers were and she reassured me she would have a meeting with them.  I hope for other patients sake, she did.

I know that this post is very long winded.  Thank you for reading, and making it this far!  I do actually have a point in writing all this but I needed to explain my situation before getting to the reason I’m writing about this.

The point is, we are the only advocate that will totally fight for what we personally need.  We know our bodies, we can feel if something is not right, if something feels different or out of place.  Call it intuition.  If I had taken my doctor to his word, not to worry about it than I might not have pushed to get a mammogram.  My prognosis would be very different.  I’ve heard many stories like this, and the stories have happy endings ONLY because the people involved pushed to get the tests they needed and saw many, many different doctors and therapists.  They did not drop the ball on themselves and are here only because they advocated for themselves.  Trust your body and trust yourself, it’s only your life to lose and that is the most important thing of all.


4 Responses to “In the beginning…”

  1. Sandra Spicer says:

    First off, I sure hope your doctor rethinks his future responses to patients who come in. You’re right, you can’t dismiss things that appear like ‘nothing’.

    Secondly, I’m glad you spoke to the manage at the Breast Clinic and told them about how the other people had treated you.

    Thirdly, your words have made an impact on me and I promise that I’m going to start doing breast exams because I have to admit that I never do them.

    Thank you Mary.

  2. Princess Michee says:

    I will now refer to you as the “Boobie Guru”, get used to it. I may shorten it to simply “Boobie”. Even if you were not my best friend, I would still feel compelled to write the following: thank you for being an experienced advocate for women and men everywhere. Each and every person reading your blog is lucky to be able to soak in your words of wisdom. You’re amazing. I hope you know this. Cheers for being in my life, I love you so very much. Boobie!!!

  3. Queen Mum says:

    Talking about this is such good therapy for you too. You never cease to amaze me. You have shown such strength and courage throughout all of this. What lessons you have taught me. Yes, you are truly amazing and it is such a pleasure to be a part of your life. Love you Mary

  4. Tracy B says:

    Hey Mary,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It is an important one to share. I am sorry to hear that it was somewhat traumatic for you thanks to the staff that day. I wish it hadn’t been that way. I read this quote that I appreciated “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anaïs Nin. Thank you for sharing your experiences and reflections with us. In doing so you not only increase awareness but also look out for the well-being of others in similar difficult situations. I totally agree with the statement that no one knows our bodies better than ourselves and we must follow our gut instincts and advocate for ourselves. I sure am glad that you did!

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