How long can you hold your breath? Just recently, I held mine for 8 days. Not literally of course, but it sure felt like it.
Last Thursday, I had my follow up MRI. I had one last January before my lumpectomy. (The one last January found 2 spots that the mammogram had missed. One was pre-cancer & was removed. The other was not cancer and was just “marked” with a metal clip so they can watch it.) I wasn’t expecting anything to come from the one last week. I went in, asked for extra ear protection (I highly recommend it) – & spent 30 min visualizing the lake. For this type of MRI, you are on your stomach, with your chest through the table. I did just fine & went back to work after. I was hoping to just get a letter in the mail 7-10 days later.
I was shocked when the surgeon called me at home after supper. “There is a spot/nodule on your right breast (opposite from previous cancer) that has changed since last year. We will want to have you come in and check it out.” It would be Thursday before I could get in for an ultrasound & possible biopsy. The waiting game sucks. I had kind of forgotten how much it stinks. I didn’t want to alarm my kids. As honest as I was throughout my cancer, I just simply didn’t know enough to tell them anything yet. I’d deal with that if I needed to when that time came.
I had the distraction of a weekend with family for Easter and then back to work for more waiting. I talked with the Roger Maris Cancer Center’s psych Dr on Monday. She talked about prayer & meditation & ways to get me through to Thursday without going too stir crazy. You see, this type of thing is what (most) cancer survivors fear. It’s what nobody talks about or prepares you for. The “what ifs”… What if the cancer comes back, what if it metastasized, what if I can’t tell that something changed etc etc. This is the kind of thing that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. As much as I remained positive & strong through my cancer, fear over took me this time. I did ok (not super, but ok) until Wednesday. The day before the ultrasound & biopsy I was a bit of a mess. Only a handful of people knew about it, but those who did were sending up some pretty big prayers. Songs would come on the radio that made me teary. The thought of having to tell my kids again made my heart ache.
Thursday came & I spent an hour of the morning having reiki to try and calm and balance me. I had breakfast with my aunt & she came with me to the ultrasound. Being a cancer survivor herself, she knew what to expect. They let her come in with me for the ultrasound. The spot they were looking for was deep, closer to the chest wal. It was difficult to find, which was good and bad. The Dr came in to look and said that if I was anyone else, with no history of cancer, they’d just wait and see. He also said that he realized I’d probably worry for 6 months if I decided to just wait, so he would do the biopsy. Yes, please. Peace of mind is worth the temporary pain. Plus it was already scheduled so I could do it right away.
This is my 4th biopsy (3 last year.) They put lidocaine in to numb it, then go in with a long needle to get a sample. Then they put a tiny clip in that spot to mark it for future reference. One that’s done, they have to put pressure on your chest for 15 minutes. Yep, that’s as fun as it sounds…not fun. Awkward small talk etc. After that, they do a mammogram again to see that the clip is in place. They send you on your way with ice packs in your bra. Time to rest. It would be Monday before they had results. Initially the Dr thought it looked good, so I should be relieved. Since I’ve heard, “I’m sure it’s nothing” before and they were wrong, I would wait until I got the call to celebrate.
I didn’t have to wait until Monday. The Dr called tonight with good news that the biopsy wasn’t cancer. It was inflammatory tissue (& other words that I didn’t hear because I was still just absorbing the good news.) Yahooooo! NOW I can smile, be relieved & celebrate!
And I can breathe…
Peace be with you on your journey of enough.