My story, about the way I discovered my breast cancer*, is in many ways, unremarkable. But in other ways, it’s a MIRACLE.
Like all women should, I went for a mammogram. No lump, no pain, no nothing. As a matter of fact, I am the healthiest I’ve ever been (more on that coming, so stay tuned to learn about one of my MIRACLES.)
Shortly after the mammogram, I got a call back that I should return for an ultrasound, because they saw something questionable. “No big deal,” I thought, “women of my age frequently experience a change in their breast tissue. And besides I feel GREAT.” So I went through the motions and returned for the ultrasound. The results of the ultrasound were, “Hmm. We think we see something, but its vague, so we’ll keep an eye on it. Come back in 6 months.” Okie dokie, no biggie. Meanwhile, because my precious mom had breast cancer umpteen years ago (and yes, still going STRONG at age 87) the recommendation was that I get an MRI. I balked at that. You see, 2 years ago, it was also recommended that I get an MRI and there were NO concerns on my mammogram. Simply, the AMA began recommending MRIs to anyone who had family history. So, I THOUGHT, here they go again pushing the “money-making” MRIs on me. Oh geez…how annoying.
Since my daughter and I have a solid pact that we will hide nothing from each other, I told her all about these recent, seemingly benign events. Her reaction, however, was far from “no worries, Mom.” She FORCEFULLY told me to go get that MRI. Do not delay, get it on the schedule NOW. Well, frankly I didn’t share her urgency, but I acquiesced, because it was clear how important this was to her, and that was enough of a reason to me.
So I had the MRI, and the results were, again, “we THINK we see something,” but to be sure, we want you to come in for a biopsy. So with my husband and my sister Marcia at my side, I went in for that biopsy. Now, I’m a little more concerned, but still, I thought these are just the necessary steps and recall telling the few people that knew, that I was sure that the doctors were just being overly careful due to my family history. Side bar, I thought the needle biopsy would be “easy cheesy”…hmm, not so much
So a week went by and I really didn’t think about it too much…until the call came in from my General Practitioner, who had received the lab report and called me, thinking the radiologist had already called me and she was just following up to see how I was doing. GULP! Things turned very serious, very fast. Poor thing had to deliver, over the phone, the news that no one ever wants to receive: “Sandy I’m sorry to tell you, you have breast cancer.”
It was a good thing I was parked in my driveway, because the world around me started to spin and I couldn’t completely take in nor process this terrible news. Right before I talked my doctor, I had placed a call to my daughter Sarah in San Francisco, but she didn’t pick up. So, right away she returned my call, unfortunately RIGHT after I hung up with my doctor, giving me NO opportunity to get ahold of myself and put on my happy, cheery Sandy voice.
“Mom. What’s wrong.”
“Um. Sarah. I just got the call from my doctor. It’s bad news.”
Then we both just sat on the phone in silence, both us not knowing how to process this. We agreed to “press pause” and talk in a few minutes. (She’s in the middle of her busy work day and I’m frozen in my driveway.)
After only a few minutes, I called her back again and first thing, needed to tell her THANK YOU. Because of my daughter being “Miss Bossy Pants” about the MRI, I learned about the cancer early. THAT WAS THE MIRACLE! I shudder to think of what might have been, had I waited another 6 months to follow up the ultrasound.
What followed the rest of that night will always remain a very special memory for me. I called Greg, no answer. I called Michael, no answer. Having just left my daughter-in-love Valerie, after a fun day of celebrating her birthday, I then called her. Within minutes, Valerie was at my side, hugging me, praying with me, and knowing me so well, making me LAUGH. “Sandy, of course this is awful, but look at the bright side: Maybe you’ll be able to get a new set of “CANS,” with no judgement“ (not many 56 year-olds get implants, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?) Man, she had me rolling on the floor.
Soon, Greg and Michael returned home and together we processed, and talked about this shocking news, with me mostly crying and sometimes laughing. (What an emotional burrito I was, and am!) The best time of all was spent praying together. I thank God that HE was right there with us and that our first line of defense was, and is, to PRAY.
So that night I went to bed, stunned, but I quickly figured, this thing is early, my mom is still living life LARGE after all these years, and this thing will not be that bad…cut it out and let’s get on with my wonderful life! Or so I thought…
- please note: I will NOT capitalize the words breast cancer. I refuse to let this be the biggest thing in my life.