Details of the Diagnosis
That 5 day weekend ended up not being so bad. My friends surrounded me for most of it. Having them and my husband around helped me take my mind off of things. I cried off and on any moment that I spent alone and even sometimes when I wasn’t. I could not shake this sadness that had come over me.
I’d always been such a strong person but this was trying to break me. I had never cried this much in my life. It was impossible to not think about every second. It even woke me up out of my sleep some nights. And to think, I almost let my fear of needles prevent me from going to get this shit checked out. Something that I almost ignored had gotten me HERE. This leaking tit was trying to kill me. Huh.
Finally, July 7th had arrived. I tossed and turned all night. Most people find out they have breast cancer because they discover lumps. No one ever talks about leaking tits are being how they discovered breast cancer. Why am I the anomaly?
My husband and I arrive to the hospital. Here we go, AGAIN. I have arrived to yet another doctors office. I sign in. My husband and I sit in the waiting room. I am a train wreck on the inside. My stomach is literally doing somersaults. I look around at the women who are also waiting. No one appears nearly as frightened as I am.
As we wait, I see women whose appointments have just finished. They’re smiling. Why are they smiling? They are friendly with the ladies at the front desk as they schedule their follow up appointments. “Ok, see you in two weeks!” Um, is this the doctor's office or the hair salon? Cheerful AF.
After about 15 minutes of waiting, my name is called and we are brought in to an exam room. A nurse comes in and introduces herself, tells me that she will be my Nurse Navigator during my Cancer journey and then starts rattling off a series of questions. I have my phone out to record all of this. Listening back I can hear the frustration and the frailty in my voice. I was completely on edge. The nurse goes over a series of questions. “So on a scale of 1-10 what is your stress level?” (GIRL.) I answer, “20.”
“Guess you didn’t have the best 4th of July huh?”, she says.
Ma’am, what?! To hell with this small talk. How do you think I’m feeling? Shit. As a matter of fact, where is the DOC-TOR???
All of these questions that she had for me and I just wanted answers to my own damn questions. It all sounded like the pace of an auctioneer in my head. I couldn’t process it all. Then it was as if everything slowed down and the next set of questions echoed slowly in my head. “Do you have kids?” the nurse asked. I tensed up and replied, “NO.” “Do you want kids?” “Yes of course” I reply. I literally had no idea why she was asking and was even more annoyed because I didn’t see what this had to do with anything. “Ok well before we can get started with treatment we will need you to have your eggs frozen. Treatment can put some women in to early menopause”, she explains.
I felt like a Jenga piece that got pulled out too fast and came crashing down. I burst into tears. WHAT?! I didn’t even know this was possible!
The nurse hands me a box of tissues and she and my husband try to console me.
This is all just so, so fucked up. Why am I having to deal with this? Why now?!
Soon after the wonderful line of questioning from Nurse Feather Bang ends, the woman with all the answers knocks on the door and enters the room. Finally.
I’d already researched the doctor I was scheduled to meet with. She was a surgeon and also the director of the Breast Center where I would soon be treated. She had been doing this for 20 years. I was in good hands.
She introduces herself and asks me more of the same questions the nurse just asked. The important questions.
(I’m really trying to fix my attitude here but I need answers and I need them now. Someone with my level of patience wants to scream right now.)
The doctor has me lay back so that she can examine the killer boob. It takes a little over a minute and just like that she’s done. She tells me that I can sit up, get dressed and head across the hall to a room where she and Feather Bang will meet us to discuss things further.
This room is what I’d like to describe as the place where you go to get your heart pounced on just a little bit more.
The room was really small and dimly lit. Purposely I assume. There are about four cushioned chairs. Two against the wall with a small wooden table in between. On it is a lamp and a box of tissues. I stare at the tissues. Ugh. I guess I better get ready to use those. My husband and I sit quietly. He tells me to stop worrying and that everything will be fine.
In come the Doc and Nurse Feather Bang. They sit down across from MJ and I with their clipboards and such. There is a purple piece of paper on the doctor’s clipboard and on it is a diagram of a breast. I stare at it as she begins to talk and draw and show me where the bad titty meat was. My phone is out to record everything again because honestly all of this medical terminology is over.my.head. I don’t care how slowly they talk to me. I hear them tell me that I am Stage 1A and the rest of the medical jargon just sounds as if Charlie Brown is talking.
Ok, Stage 1 A. Great. Okkkk. I’d already decided on my treatment plan in my head prior to coming here. I talked to my dad who underwent radiation during his fight with prostate cancer a year or so earlier. He made it seem as if it was easy breezy. Oh, just a really bad sunburn? Um, have you met me? I’ve had more bad sunburns than I can count on every finger and toe. Yep, I’ve decided, radiation will be my treatment.
The doctor tells me that I will need to meet with an oncologist to discuss my treatment plan but that I will definitely need to go through chemotherapy. She also strongly recommends a mastectomy.
“How attached are you to your breasts?”, she asks.
I AM MAD.
“Well, I’m a 34-year-old woman who hasn’t even been married a year yet. So I’d say, VERY attached.”
There go those tears again.