Welcome to our ongoing series dealing with Ms. Misty’s recent Breast Cancer journey. The diagnosis, treatment, tears, fears, and faith.
Words. Believe it or not, someone has come up with a rough estimate of how many words a person utters in a lifetime. That estimate: 432,160,000 words.
There are a few words that will take your breath away: “I love you!”; “Will you marry me!”; and the first time your child says, “mama” or “dada”.
There are other words that have a similar breathtaking quality, but for less joy-inducing reasons: the first time your child says, “I hate you!”; when your spouse tells you they want a “divorce”; and probably the worst by far, “you’ve got cancer.”
If you’re new to our blog, this summer I had a mammogram & ultrasound that confirmed there was something suspicious lurking in my right breast. A “Needle Biopsy” was scheduled, but a few weeks before that appointment I was confined to a hospital bed hoping I wouldn’t have to have hernia surgery.
It was 4 weeks from mammogram to biopsy. 4 weeks of not knowing. 4 weeks with the specter of cancer hanging over me. During that time I shared this with only a handful of trusted girlfriends. Most of them assured me it was probably just a cyst, which is common.
I held tightly to that hope.
The day of the biopsy, I was ready. I confindently informed both the Ultrasound tech, who would be guiding the Radiologist to the mass, and the Radiologist who would be be performing the biopsy, that the mass was probably just a cyst.
My heart sank when the Radiologist became very somber, placed his hand in my shoulder and assured me it was NOT a cyst.
Cysts are more round. They have a different density when looked at via ultrasound. No, this was not a cyst. The fact it resembled my beloved Mt. Rainier, rising out of the clouds of subcutaneous fat and tissues, did noting to calm my growing anxiety.
I was told the results would be available in three days. I missed the call from my doctor three days later, which was the Friday leading into the Labor Day weekend. That was one very long weekend. Tuesday, I called the doctors office and was told, yes, they had the results but my doctor wanted to see me. Well, crap. That’s not good. I was able to secure an appointment later that day.
“You’ve got cancer.” Words no one wants to hear, however, my experience was made even more difficult because I don’t actually have a Primary Care Physician, I have a Nurse Practitioner. I can’t remember the last time I actually saw an MD for a medical appointment. Thankful, NPs have been more than sufficient for what I have needed… until now.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying NPs aren’t as good as MDs, what I am saying is that they don’t always have the training needed to deal with such devastating issues such as CANCER.
Routinely cold and aloof, she was almost in tears when she gave the diagnosis because that’s all she could do. She said they weren’t “trained for that”. She didn’t understand the pathology report beyond the words, “Invasive Ductal Carcinoma”. She wasn’t even sure she could provide me with a copy of that report!
What does that even mean? Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Cancer. I have cancer? Am I going to die? How long do I have? What happens now? What do I do? Do I need to get my affairs in order?
What she could and did do was tell me she would be referring me to a surgeon and an oncologist. Wait… a surgeon?! I was going to need surgery? She didn’t even have an answer for that.
I left that appointment angry, in shock, and terrified.
The only saving grace was a brochure that I was given the day I had the mammogram.
Before I left, the Radiologist handed me a brochure providing contact information for, Kerrie Trout, our local “Oncology Patient Navigator”. He was so warm and caring as he provided information that would most certainly raise alarm, so he prefaced it as something a bit innocuous; it wasn’t to worry me, but rather to provide me with someone to talk to if I had questions about how the biopsy would be performed… and in case it turned out to be cancer, he just left that part out.
I am greateful for that brochure.
Once I got home from the appointment with my NP, with pathology report in hand, I left a message for the Oncology Patient Navigator and sat down at my computer to consult with Dr. Google.
The fact I had no other recourse is really unfortunate, but I am thankful. By the time the Patient Navigator returned my call, I was able to ask coherent and meaningful questions. And in turn, she was able to provide answers that gave me (somewhat) a sense of peace.
Words are powerful.
Visit our BLOG for updates, experiences & tips on how you can help your love one deal with such a devistating diagnosis.
While busy with homestead chores, we never thought to budget for cancer. We are greatful for our dear friend, Karen, who has set up a GoFundMe campaign for us. While it was a difficult decision to allow this, we are humbled and grateful to those who have helped us doing this very difficult time.
If you’d like to support Ms. Misty’s recovery, you can do so HERE.
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