My Breast Cancer Journey Part 1: The Diagnosis
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
October 15, 2021. A day that I will remember forever.
It all started on July 8th, 2021, when I went in for a routine physical. I thought I found a suspicious pea sized lump in my left breast and hadn't thought much of it, but did ask my physican. Her response was she thought it was something that came and left with my menstrual cycle and she didn't seem concerned about it. She mentioned if it continued to get bigger or I felt like it wasn't going away that I should let her know and we would plan on revisiting it in one year, at my next physical.
During the next couple months I golfed a couple times and noticed that my back was sore and I mean very sore. I was also laying down my son in his crib at this time and leaning over the crib was making my back hurt a lot as well. My thought was that, "I'm 28 and feel like I'm in decent shape. Why is my back hurting like this?" It just wasn't getting better until finally, on the morning of September 30th, I woke up and it hurt. Sharp pain in middle to lower back and I decided I needed to go in. I scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor (the same doctor who had performed my physical). She assessed my back and we talked about trying some therapies etc. and then she asked again about the lump in my breast. I told her I felt like I could still feel it, but didn't think it had gotten any bigger. She felt it and decided to order an ultrasound. She reassured me, that really wasn't that concerned about it and she would be very surprised if I would be sent to a mammogram.
On October 7th, I had my ultrasound. The ultrasound tech was nice and before completing the ultrasound, sounded optimistic and based on what I told him, agreed I would most likely not be sent to mammogram. He completed the ultrasound and mentioned that the radiologist would look at it and let me know. After being gone for a while, he came back in and said we would be doing a mammogram. Then on my way over to the mammogram, I was stopped by the radiologist who asked me, "Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family?" I told him, “Not that know of.” And then he asked a second time, "Are you sure?” Now I was starting to get nervous. Why would he ask me that question twice? I completed both the ultrasound and mammogram and was told they would want to schedule a biopsy.
October 13th, I did my biopsy and another mammogram. The biopsy was probably the most painful thing I've ever done and to this day I'm thankful for the VBS songs that I sang throughout the entire procedure. The radiologist didn't wait for the lidocaine to kick in and was performing the procedure before it was numb. Long story short, God helped me through both the biopsy and mammogram, as well as my amazing husband, who stood by my side and held my hand throughout both procedures. After finishing both of these, we were told that we would hear results in the next 1-3 days. If you have ever waited for results before it is agonizing!
They now have an app associated with your hospital called MyChart. It can help you schedule appointments, easily speak to your doctor and also share your test results. Yes, share your test results. Test results that are sent out to you the same time the doctor receives them.
At 10:00 AM October 15th, the results came in. A full report of results explaining what they had found. Basically a foreign language to me. Then I remember reading KNOWN MALIGNANCY in big letters at the bottom. Then the googling started. What does malignancy mean? What do my results say. I sat in my bedroom and googled.
Malignancy: the state or presence of a malignant tumor; cancer.
I read the definition and broke down crying. I had cancer.
I called my husband, who was working at the time, in tears and gave him the news. He asked how I knew and I mentioned I had received the results. He immediately left work and came home. I remember calling my mom and crying and crying. Not knowing what was next. Not was knowing what was happening. Could this be real? Was I dreaming? I'm a stay at home mom. The kids. My head was spiraling.
We received the news on Friday, October 15th at 10:00. I tried to call my doctor and had to leave a message. I didn't get a call back from my doctor until the following Tuesday, confirming that yes, it is cancer and I'm sure you probably have googled. I'll connect you with an oncologist (cancer doctor). She just kept saying, "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."
In the midst of the scariest days of my life, I turned to God. I cried and I hoped and I prayed. Prayed for God to give me clarity. Thought why me? Wondering why I was meant to by diagnosed at just 28. A young, stay at home mom of 2 with a loving husband and a full life ahead of her. Why me?
My first appointment was scheduled with my oncologist and we discussed the plan for me. At this point we thought it had only spread from my breast to my lymph and stopped. Then came the PET scan results, that not only was it in my breast and lymph, but it had also spread to my liver and bones. (Makes a lot of sense that I had back pain in the summer, considering that the bones in my back were hollow and filled with cancer.) I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer that was both Progesterone and Estrogen positive and HER2-. I was also told that I have probably had cancer in my body from anywhere between 1 and 2 years.
The oncologist put me on a plan to start chemo and go from there. Being that it is Stage 4, I was told I will never be cured. I will be on treatment for the rest of my life.
I have found that when I need to hear something, without fail, my devotional has been spot on. To the point that it's scary accurate and He is speaking to me. During this time I was reading devotionals from my "Jesus Calling" devotional that said things like, "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." And words that spoke to me. It was incredible. My devotional and worship music helped me through this dark time. Helped me to find the light in it all.
Throughout this time, I would have been lost without my faith. I would have been lost without the amazing family and friends that supported me and did everything they could to help me. My faith kept me strong and my faith kept me positive. I went into chemotherapy ready to conquer the world and ready to fight! I knew that I had God on my side and that he could help me do anything! Bring it on cancer! And then I started chemo.
I'm thankful that I went in to get my back checked out when I did. I'm thankful that the doctor sent me for a ultrasound and didn't brush it off again, but it happens. I truly hope that my experience helps someone. Someone get a lump checked out. Someone push to get the ultrasound. Someone to get the routine mammogram. Or most of all, helps someone strengthen their faith.
The next part of my story is called, My Breast Cancer Journey Part 2: Treatment. Read it here: My Breast Cancer Journey Part 2: Treatment. This story is written in three parts. Part 1: Diagnosis, Part 2: Treatment and then Part 3: The Miracle.
God is good and has given me so much in these past 10 months. I look forward to continuing to share this story with you! Thank you for following along so far!