The point of this one…not sure yet. Perhaps it will be found by the end of the story.
This one is a little difficult for me, dredging up angry overwhelming sad feelings and remembering full out sobbing that would send my dog running and hiding, sleepless nights, panic attacks, all of which I had no control over.
In one way, I was relieved, FINALLY, after years of feeling like a crazy person begging for help from my doctor, I had a diagnosis! There was a reason I felt so horrible! I sought out answers from my doctor for about 3 years only to be told, oh you need antidepressants, you need to lose weight, stay away from sodium. Fucking bitch, there I said it, it feels good. I don’t blame her for my cancer, I do however blame her for metastatic cancer. Maybe if she listened to the girl who never bothered with doc’s very much. Who was making appointments every couple of week crying for her help, in so much pain, no energy, knowing in my soul that there was something wrong. Maybe if she listened instead of dismissing or judging, I would have had the chance to kick this cancer’s ass instead of living with it. There is nothing worse than feeling dismissed, well maybe there is 😉 !
Remembering going to work every day in so much pain and fighting to get through a day. Trying to be a good mom, a good wife, a good friend all the while loosing my mind. Driving everyone crazy with my daily pity parties moaning about how awful I felt.
Some of my symptoms:
- Tired- all the time
- Pain- my entire body hurt everyday (tried taking advil 10-16/day)
- An all around feeling of “not well”
- Strange heartbeat- One night after a friends birthday get together, I woke in the night with a strange heartbeat.It felt like it was pounding and skipping a beat. I had never felt this before and the fact it woke me from a deep drunken sleep was important. I called the doc and got an appointment, ECG and a Holter monitor, only to be told “some people are just more aware of their heartbeats, there is nothing wrong with you”.
- Breast Lump- One night I thought I felt a lump a big one, very big, hmmm weird I thought. Maybe it was just different breast tissue. After all I had 2 kids and reaching 40 in a few years, boobs change with time.
- Indent- A while later, after a shower, I was putting my hair up in a towel and noticed an indent at the side of my breast, again hmmm weird, thinking breast feeding and aging was the culprit.
- Nipple pulled a little to the side- had no idea WTF
- Burning, stinging shooting pains through the breast.
A nagging feeling kept pulling me to feeling my breast, then saying it out loud “Hey, noticed these things, there is a reason!?!” My brain never connected cancer, I was only 37, breastfed twice, my family doctor says I’m just crazy. After talking about it with my co-worker, Carol (love you lady!!!!), she told me just get it checked! As I left work that day, I had made a plan to go in, not my family doc but the walk-in clinic, just get it checked, it will be nothing. At the stop sign, turn left to go in or go straight to go home. Again, fuck it! it’s nothing, let’s just go home. At the last second I turned left. (I am crying right now, as I write this, opening up old wounds and memories, it was the right decision)
Sitting in the room talking to a Doc (think he was training, poor guy) Exposing my breasts and explaining the symptoms, still feeling, I’ll be OK. He felt my breast and went to get another doctor, Now I started feeling less confident. The other doc came in, funny it was my OBGYN from my first pregnancy. As she talked and walked the new resident doc through the breasts checks, she made eye contact with me, I knew at that moment, I had cancer. She could not hide that look. I started to cry. I don’t remember much after that except I was handed requisitions for mammograms and ultrasounds for the very next day. I left with reqs. clutched in hand, tears streaming down my face. Walking through the building, started to cry audibly now, didn’t care about the blurry strangers I passed by. I got in my car and freaked the fuck out! Sobbing now uncontrollably. I was so scared. I made phone calls to Pat (husband), Tina (sister) and Carol (friend/co-worker). THEY FOUND SOMETHING! I don’t remember much about those conversations, except they probably barely understood me.
The next day (it was a Friday), my mammogram. (Holy crap that hurts! btw) The technician, was lovely, supportive and kind. I saw the pictures, she saw the pictures. Horrible nasty spiky cancer, right there on the screen. My tumor was 3.5 cm, it was huge! As I waited for my ultrasound, I cried, but started to come to terms with what was happening. Started to get my game face on. Thinking, HEY, I can conquer this, walk the walk! bare the bald! give me all that pink ribbon shit, I can do this! Praying, please tell me I can beat it, take my boobies, give me the chemo, whatever just please tell me I am not going to die!
Waiting all weekend to see my surgeon on Monday. He will tell me good news..right? He pulled out a needle and took a sample from my tumor. Sat Pat and I down and talked about the results so far. Explained about tumor size, TMN grading and cancer staging. Then told us to be prepared for a stage 4 diagnosis. So naive we were to what that meant, lol I look back now OMG. Leaning forward to look at diagrams, looking at him with a smile on my face. Finding out there is no stage 5. Listening… slowly the understanding sunk in, sunk in deep, into my stomach my soul. He knew, I knew, what it was.
Soon, I was meeting with an Oncologist and a radiation Doctor. (Here is one lesson my friends, all tests and scans are scary, but when things are moving fast, damn! Buckle up and hold on tight! You are in for a ride.) I had CT’s, MRI’s, x-rays, blood work, bone scans, ultrasounds and biopsies booked for days and weeks!
These weeks were a blur, so many appt.’s and sleepless nights. All the while wishing it was nothing and my family doctor was right, I was just crazy! Sometimes hoping they would call to say sorry we made a mistake. Being in complete denial and thinking I can just WILL the cancer away if I think hard enough. Finding out indeed it was stage 4, too late for surgery, too late for a cure. I remember one doctor talking about my age, I cut him off and said “yeah, I’m young and strong and that helps” only to find out, breast cancer in younger women is more aggressive, well shit! Learning about hormone status, grade etc and finally dealing with “survival statistics”. Normal overall 5 year survival rate 20%, being younger lowers it and the average is 24-36 months. My world was rocked! Now this is strange but a thought popped into my head – I can’t die! Who will clean the toilet?! – Now please understand, we have no control over the thoughts or feelings that pop inside us. It may not make sense to anyone but honestly if the desire to keep my toilet clean keeps me around, I will make her shine!! Bring on the bleach and toilet scrubber! Hey whatever works!
I have come a long way from those crazy, fuzzy dark days. I continue to try to beat the odds and bust the statistics, fuck them! I am above average!! I continue to stay as strong as I can. Gripping to life! Not wanting to leave my kids, husband, family and friends. Cleaning my toilet and smiling, enjoying that I am still able to scrub and smell the bleach.
If anyone is reading this, I guess the meaning of this story is to trust yourself and your body. If you feel you are not getting the help you need, please seek a second or third opinion! Check your boobies!!! Check your boobies!! Check your boobies!