Okay, the diagnosis was made, “you have cancer. ” What an awful, horrible thing to hear. Flashes of pain, agony, and even death sped across my brain at the sound of those words. The one really big question that flashed through was where else is it? I remember I screamed over the phone to my doctor “no,no,no.”
Cancer is the big bogey man. The monster waiting to attack. “You have cancer” are the worse words in the English language. It is something that is going to change your life forever.
After I cried a million tears over several days I regrouped and went to see the surgeon who told me he couldn’t do a biopsy because ” it was too small, and I might get a false negative.” He never once offered anything else. I wanted to look him in the eye. I wanted him to know that he failed me as a patient. I wanted him to know I NOW had cancer.
The visit was cathartic for me. He was shocked at first when he came into the room. I am sure he remembered how flippant he had been with me. At this visit he was very “sweet” “apologetic” and started talking about doing surgery. I took great pleasure in telling him that there was no way I would let him do surgery on me after the way he had treated me in the past. Telling me ” it is nothing, it’s so tiny, let’s watch it.” I told him I just wanted to look him in the face before I went to a different town to consult with a surgeon. Then I left him sitting alone in his exam room.
The testing stage is next. They have to see what kind of cancer cells you have in your body, if it has moved out of it’s home space, and how big of an area they are really looking at. It is amazing, and overwhelming at all the directions that cancer treatment can take so my first step was to see a surgeon. One that knew already that I had cancer, and who wasn’t going to tell me to “wait and see. ”
After the surgeon talked about the choices it was decided that she would do a lumpectomy along with a sentinel biopsy. The lumpectomy is just that, they take out a lump of tissue around the cancer in the hopes that all of the cancer cells will be removed. The sentinel biopsy involves putting radioactive materials into your breast tissue. This material travels along your lymph system going to your lymph nodes highlighting the glands. Then they do some type of radiographic pictures to see if it is in the first couple of lymph nodes closest to the cancer. If it is not then they may not have to take out the lymph glands.
Those not in the field of cancer such as some providers and patients, may not be aware that cancer is not just one thing. It’s not just cancer of this organ or that organ. It is about where else the cancer may have spread, the degree of cancer in the organ, how many chemicals it will take to kill the cancer, but not the host (patient), and other types of treatments that might be included.
It is about the type of surgery you will have to have, what type of medications you will have to take, possibly for the next five or ten years, what kind of follow up tests you will have to have, and what type of impairment may result from your treatments and surgery.
And it is about so many other things. Did I say it was overwhelming? Well it is so much more then that one word. F–k, it is so much more. Had I known all that was in store for me I would have told that idiot in Kansas City to chop off my breast right then and there. If you read my earlier blog this supposed specialist had said ” I could traumatize your body but it is nothing, nothing. Quit your job, go to school, it will be fine.” The lumpectomy was not traumatizing. Everything after it was traumatizing.
So, rant I shall do. Do not wait and watch. Do not just be aware. Be glad if they say it is a tiny thing. Tell them to go fishing and get it out. Months and months of treatment are so much more traumatizing then taking out some little chunk of flesh from your body.
It is not about awareness, not about Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is about TAKING ACTION NOW. It is about doing something when things are not right in your body before it gets BIGGER, or SPREADS.
I want the campaign managers to change the awareness part, change where the money goes to include helping patients take action now. No one should have to wait only to discover that what once was “tiny” has now become a monster. Take care of yourself, and take control of your wellness. And, take action now. Have a great day today, you deserve it.