A number of things happened in the past few weeks that have me
wicked a bit freaked out about the possibility I have cancer. Since this is supposed to be a Microblog (not Super Heavy Duty Macro blog), I have a brief summary at the end. Click HERE if you want to skip to that.
Okay, if you didn’t click, don’t say I didn’t warn you! This is gonna be wordy, and will involve the word “nipple” and more about my health history than you probably care to know… this is your last chance to turn back…
First, a bit of history.
Back 22 years ago when I had my first baby, I had a hell of a time nursing. Mastitis, yeast, blocked ducts – you name it, I got it, but I held on and nursed the eldest until she was two months old. I ended up with a lump in my left breast that never went away. At some point (either between the eldest and the boy, or the boy and the youngest) I had an ultrasound done, and they told me it was just a scar tissue kind of a thing. Something to be aware of, but not to worry about.
Over the years, I was very good about doing breast self-exams. A relatively long time after the youngest stopped nursing (I managed about a year with her and the boy each), I noticed that I still had a few drops of milk each time I did an exam and checked for discharge. I mentioned it to my doctors & nurses over the years, joked about becoming a wet nurse (which I would’ve done in a heartbeat if it didn’t involve giving up coffee, chocolate, and vodka… I mean, how could I function? *grin*), but they all agreed that as long as it didn’t change color or amount, again not to worry.
Skip ahead to about a month ago.
I discovered a number of family members (who hang in the tree close to me both maternally and paternally) were having issues with cancer – either a recurrence, or newly discovered. Because of it, a paternal family member had some genetic testing done, and discovered a strong cancer risk in the Cavanaugh gene pool. Then in mid June, a close maternal family member needed to have a cancer-related procedure done (not my story to tell, so I’ll leave it at that).
Hubby makes things more interesting.
On June 23rd, hubby came home from work and said he’d fallen getting off his ladder – long story short, he fractured his left ankle. He is currently either hobbling around wearing his fancy compression boot from two years ago (when he broke his right ankle at work), or sitting with it propped up, while he waits for it to heal enough to be cleared to go back to work. Not that what he’s doing while he’s home isn’t work, given he’s dealing with me, and being my rock and my appointment buddy whilst I’m going through all this stuff. Which leads me to…
That doesn’t look right…
Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, as we were heading to bed Saturday night, I was thinking about all the cancer stuff in the family, and realized I hadn’t done a self exam in a while. Did my left side – all normal, and the usual couple small drops of milky discharge. Did my right – no pain, no lumps, nothing out of the ordinary, but instead of milky discharge, small black dots of liquid appeared.
freaked out and was on the verge of tears calmly told hubby to come see, and he said, “yep, that looks like blood.” We decided that since it was so late, and it wasn’t actively bleeding, that we’d wait until the next day to see about getting it checked out. I absitively posolutely did not Google and see all of the scary possible reasons it was happening. Nope, didn’t do it. Okay, maybe just for a second, but I stopped as soon as my hand starting shaking too much to operate my mouse pretty quick.
Sunday I called our local Urgent Care (like a regular doctor’s office and an emergency room had a baby) and asked for their opinion – should I wait and make an appointment with my regular doc, or go in and have them take a peek? The woman on the phone told me in the nicest, most terrifying way possible, “you should probably just bypass us and go straight to the emergency room. They’re better equipped to figure out what’s going on.”
Time to freak out
After running upstairs to gather the kidlets (okay, two are now in their 20s and the other is 17, but still kidlets to me) so I could
sob hysterically while simultaneously laughing at how ridiculous I was being calmly explain to them what was going on, hubby and I headed off to the ER. A few hours (and a $150 co-pay we can’t afford, since hubby is on Workman’s Comp at the moment for the aforementioned broken ankle) later, the doc said all he could tell me is yes, that looks like blood, and I should definitely get a mammogram and ultrasound to see what’s up. However, in a twisted twist of luck, they didn’t have those particular machines at the hospital. I’d have to wait and go to the local imagining center to have it done.
The ER nurse was awesome, and printed off directions, office hours, and the phone number to the place. She suggested I call first thing the next morning, even though it was Monday July 3rd (still considered part of the holiday weekend, for those readers across the pond). Needless to say, since the office opened at 7am, I was on the phone at 7:01, only to hear a recording saying something to the effect of, “we’re closed for the holiday and will reopen on Wednesday, July 5th.”
What, me worry?
The next couple days were spent calmly waiting for Wednesday to arrive. Seriously, I was fairly calm, thanks in great part (at alternate times) to Ativan and vodka. Silver lining, I discovered a new favorite summer drink – three scoops of Vienna Mocha Chip ice cream and three shots of Boru Vodka, combined in a big mug, topped with whipped cream, and served with a spoon. Heavenly! But I digress…
Wednesday arrived, and again I called first thing. I explained the ER should’ve sent over orders. The very nice receptionist spent a few minutes trying to find the order, but couldn’t track it down. Then she asked, “what was the reason you went to the ER?” When I mentioned the words, “blood” and “nipple” in the same sentence, she suddenly decided orders be dammed. She scheduled me an appointment pronto, and said she’d worry about the paperwork afterwards (which made me wicked happy and more freaked out, all at the same time). She got me set up for Friday – because it was a diagnostic, not a baseline, it made it more difficult to find a time slot, but son of a gun, she managed! Then, more waiting.
Friday, hubby and I headed to the place (I’ll spare you the details of my sudden panic as I realized the ER doc mentioned the mammogram center was across the street from them in Dover, but when I checked the paperwork in the car, it said the address was the next town over from Dover). Everybody there was amazing and as comforting as possible, so the three hour long appointment flew by like it was only two hours fifty-nine minutes. The good news – both the mammogram and ultrasound came back within normal parameters. The bad – they still had no idea why I continue to have bloody discharge, and that old blocked duct lump in my left breast is now twice as big as they’re comfortable with.
The awesome technician who did my mammogram ushered me and hubby into an office, and continued to be awesome. She quickly got me scheduled in the first available slots for a biopsy on one and a surgical consult for the other (both of which are coming up later this week). Oh, and to keep things straight, I’ve started referring to my left breast as Lumpy, and my right as Leaky. *grin*
The waiting is the hardest part
So for the past week and a half, I’ve been keeping busy with bunches of things, since there’s never a dull moment with five people, one dog, and one cat in the house. Again, not my stories to tell, but suffice to say, there’s been no lack of appointments, shopping, phone calls, homeschooling, laundry, and other assorted household distractions. We (hubby & I) have also gotten in some good quality Netflix binge watching time (someone please tell me the second season of Santa Clarita Diet will be on soon!).
Getting ready to rumble!
Last week, I decided if I wanted to eat all the ice cream (with and without vodka), I should just do it. This week, I’ve cut way back on sugar, slowed down my coffee drinking, stopped my alcohol drinking all together, and upped my water intake to get myself in a better physical (if not mental) state for my procedures. I can’t decide which is worse – waiting, or behaving!
This past Friday, I had a “touch base” appointment with my PC (primary care) so I could get back on some daily meds for my depression & anxiety. I also filled her in on the story behind all the paperwork being faxed over to the office. Side note – seems when you leave a sobbing voicemail message for your doctor, they tend to make room for you in their busy schedule. At one point, my PC told me not to worry because she could refer me to an awesome local oncologist, even if the surgical consult doc didn’t. Cue more panic, because needing an oncologist would mean for sure I have…
Not gonna say that sentence yet.
To be fair, she also qualified it with, “if you need to see one.” At least, that’s what hubby told me – I couldn’t hear her at that point, over the screaming in my brain.
Okay, I’m done. For now.
I’ll be sure to update everyone next week with the news on Leaky and Lumpy. I’m sure everyone’s on the edge of their seat, shivering with antici…
In the meantime, have any of you, my dear readers, gone through something like this? Any advice for me going forward? Feel free to share your thoughts, even if they are pretty, pretty lies – at this point, I’m happy to keep my rose-colored glasses firmly planted on my face, until the moment (if it even occurs, and I’m still not convinced it will) that reality knocks them off my nose. In fact, I’m actually pretty sure that the Universe has a great punchline in store for me – something along the lines of a completely-curable-but-totally-embarrassing diagnosis that I’ll have to cop to here, since I was such a big blabbermouth about it.
Oh, and last, but not least –
Here’s the Microblog Monday version of the above
Over the fourth of July weekend, I discovered bloody discharge coming from my right nipple. Because of the holiday and the diagnostic nature of the scans, I wasn’t able to have a mammogram and ultrasound until almost a week later. The good news – both came back within normal parameters. The bad – still no idea why I continue to have bloody discharge, and an old blocked duct lump in my left breast is now twice as big as they’re comfortable with. Now I have a biopsy for my left breast (I’ve nicknamed Lumpy) and a surgical consult for the right (Leaky) coming up later this week. This, combined with the recent discovery that both my paternal and maternal sides of the family have issues with cancer, have me more than a little concerned. Oh, and in the midst of it all, hubby broke his ankle. Good times.