Hurry up and wait begins
TBO.comEDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of columns by Joyce about her experience with breast cancer. She is sharing her journal with her readers.
Published: March 10, 2013
Published: March 10, 2013
Thursday, 1/31/2013 — Two days ago I went to see my doctor because I thought I might have a lump in my breast. He felt it immediately; I could see it in his eyes. I remember breathing a sigh of relief; at least I hadn't imagined it. When I'd first felt that little firm spot it didn't seem like a lump exactly, just a sore spot, sort of like a bruise. I'd never had one before so I had no idea how a breast lump presents.
I didn't say anything to anyone for a few days, not even to my husband. I didn't want to sound like a hypochondriac. But when a week had gone by and the lump was still there, one morning I said to him, "John, put your hand right here. Do you feel something?" Immediately he said, "Yeah, a lump. You should probably have your doctor check that."
I felt silly making an appointment. No one in my family has ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother had a couple of fibroids but both were benign, so when Dr. Tamayo touched the place and said, "Oh, yes," then told his nurse to check it too, I was actually relieved. At least I hadn't come in unnecessarily.
The doctor ordered a mammogram for just two days away. Usually I have to schedule my annual mammo weeks in advance. I heard the nurse remind him to mark the order diagnostic, "so the lab will know it's not routine."
Now that was a little unsettling, but today when the radiology tech at the hospital solicitously patted my shoulder and asked me to point out the lump, it all seemed kind of silly. I just kept thinking, "It's not cancer. There's no need for everyone to tiptoe around being so kind and reassuring." They were treating me as though I had already tested positive.
The mammo tech showed me the image on her computer screen, pointing out how the lump had little extensions reaching out from it. Still, all I could think was that there had never been any breast cancer in my family. Besides, I'd breastfed three babies. Don't they always say that women who nurse are less likely to get breast cancer?
After the mammo, they told me to wait for the radiologist to read the films and come in to talk with me. Humm … usually I get the results a week later by mail.
When the radiologist said, "We need to schedule a biopsy," I was shocked. He quickly explained, "We can't remove a lump until we know what it is. Even if it's just a cyst or fibroid, we need to know what we're dealing with before we go in."
So he scheduled a biopsy for Feb. 7, a whole week away. I figure it can't be too serious if they can wait a whole week, right?
Monday, 2/4/2013 — I'm not good at waiting, never have been. I'm quite sure the lump is just a fibroid so I'm not really worried, just impatient to get all this behind me. I have things to do — no time to be sick. I need to be working on my book.
My mother has two doctor's appointments this week and I need to take her. In addition, Mom always likes to run some errands, do a little shopping, maybe stop for lunch or coffee. I like doing those things with her but I need to be able to schedule them so I can also get my work done. This waiting and uncertainty just throws everything out of whack.