How, Why, When

September 30

While Mike and I were sleeping he noticed a lump or bump or something he’s never felt before while we were snuggled up.  He was adamantly concerned the next morning.  I felt around and didn’t notice anything so I kind of pushed the thought aside.  This beginning is an amazing blessing and is very important to us.  In a nutshell, Mike’s “bad feeling” was without doubt or question a gift from God, because still to this day (Oct. 20), no doctor can feel anything abnormal.  Apparently what he felt, and what I felt was “normal” breast tissue; kind of lumpy but nothing a doctor would call out during a routine exam.  One more reason to do self exams now, so you begin to know how they feel.

October 1

Mike’s concern still persisted the next day, which made me more proactive, so I started feeling around more and I kind of felt something different, so I secretly scheduled a “breast check” with my doctor.  ‘Secretly’ because there was no need to make him worry the couple days leading up to the appointment.

October 3

2pm.  “Breast check” with my doctor.  She tells me it feels like normal tissue.  But, because I’m certain that it does feel different, she orders a mammogram.

3:30pm  Mike calls me to see what I’m doing, so I spill the beans about the appointments.  Now he’s worried.

4pm.  Mammogram.  And let me just say, I’ve always heard scary things about how painful mammograms are, and all the internet jokes floating around, and honestly, it was no big deal.

October 6

Mammogram comes back normal, however once again, since I was certain the lump was new, an ultrasound was ordered.

October 9

Ultrasound confirms that there’s a mass, but still the radiologist says it has “some” characteristics of calcification.  He’s not concerned but it doesn’t have “all” the markers of something benign so he orders a needle biopsy just to be sure.

October 14

Needle biopsy is performed.  Now it’s getting a bit scarier.  I hide the few tears.  Once again we have to wait for the results.

October 16

The day.  While Mike was in the shower, the radiologist called with the results.  It’s cancer; invasive duct carcinoma.  I hang up.  I’m stunned.  I pace in the living room, completely dreading what I have to tell Mike.  We cry.

October 17

First thing in the morning we meet with a breast surgeon to discuss my options.  Cancer-words fly around the little exam room;  lumpectomy, radiation, mastectomy, chemotherapy, lymphodema, nerve damage, all are possibilities but nothing is definitive yet.  Mike takes frantic notes, raising his hand to get clarification or to spell a word we’ve never heard of.  The surgeon needs time to consider his recommendation because my case is not clear cut; actually no cases are.  He’s going to confer with colleagues.  We leave with more questions than answers.

October 17-19

The search for a second opinion begins.  If I were to buy a book I usually check a couple sources; if I were to buy a car, I’d at least visit a few car lots, so it was natural to plan for a second opinion.  But honestly, where do you begin?  We started joking about checking the yellow pages or Craigslist.  How do you find the best doctor for your situation?  Well, first we started praying a lot for the doctor for me to be put in my path and we started calling our network of friends and acquaintances.  What came back was another huge gift!  Three excellent sources all referred us to the same doctor.  Thank you!

October 20

Miracles have been abundant all day!  But before I tell you about those, let me share a tip.  Don’t get diagnosed with breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October).  Finding an appointment during this time is kind of like calling a CPA in April.

8:30am  I call to make an appointment with my second opinion doctor.  The voicemail message sounds grim; something to the effect of “we’re extremely busy, and we promise to return your call just as soon as we can”.  The term ‘when we can’ sounds more like it might be days rather than hours later.  I leave a message and shamelessly name drop a physician/friends name.  My call is returned in 15 minutes.  {First miracle}

A long list of ‘must haves’ for my appointment is rattled off.  If I do not bring the ‘must haves’ the appointment will be called off.  I call my first doctor to request all of the ‘must haves’, however my notes state that the doctor’s office needs at least 4 business days to gather the ‘must haves’.  Kind of pushing the clock here.  To top it off, my contact at my doctor’s office takes Mondays off.  It just so happens that my contact decided to check her voicemail on her day off.  She calls me back and begins the paperwork process reassuring me she’ll have all of my ‘must haves’ by Thursday.  [Second miracle}

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6 Responses to “How, Why, When”

  1. laurie sterner Says:

    Way to tackle this thing Meg…funny thing is, I know in my heart that we ALL have cancer somewhere – it’s just a matter of where and when it will appear. Life gives us all challenges – some harder than other’s. It’s what you do with them – how you look at them that defines the person you are. Everyone i know or know of that has had cancer says it has made them a better person – you are certainly NOT the person you were the day before you find out and I also truly believe that everything that happens in our life happens for a reason – not that we DESERVE it or it’s a GOOD thing – it just sends us on a path we NEVER even knew existed – a path that we are SUPPOSED to be on, Whether to better ourselves or the world we live in. You’re in our daily thoughts and our prayers as you embark on this path.
    Love, Laurie

  2. jessamyn Says:

    wow! I am so impressed with your courage and humor… thank you for sharing this, I think it’s really important for us all to hear and see. not to mention I want to know what’s going on with you and see how we can help support you!
    I remember when my aunt was diagnosed (now totally in remission and she kept both breasts!) with breast cancer, kaiser left her a message that her mammogram had an irregularity and that she would hear back from an oncologist. they left this message on a friday afternoon… aaagh! I’m so glad things seem to be happening quickly for you (and that you didn’t have to wait a whole weekend to find out what’s going on). xoxo

  3. carolyn Says:

    The women, yes women (my mom for one) plural, that I have known that have had the big breast C, say they they had faith that they would make it (even though sometimes they have had their down times). You will make it Megan. Know it, get through any crap you have to go thru and then go on with your life knowing you are a survivor. You will make it my friend, you have the support and you have the strength. It’s not the death threat that it once was. It’s a good thing you cuddle with Mike huh? Stay in touch and I’m thinking and rooting for you.

  4. deb Says:

    You are wonderful, not to mention strong. I’m worried but feel positive for a happy conclusion to this night mare.
    Thanks for the word via email and blog, (of course I had the news already) what a great idea, calling everyone you know with this news would be far too much. Good thoughts and vibes are streaming your direction, auntie deb

  5. Jayme and Terri Says:

    Hey! Sounds like you are tackling this head on. I know we are on the east coast but whatever we can do we will. We’ll be out for Christmas this year so we will definately see you then. Your right to recommend the scans. I had my forst one at 21(17 years ago) when my doctor found a lump, fortunately it was a fibroid, but I understand the fear factor completely. We are thinking about you and will be praying for you, and remember He’s always with us, even if we only see one set of footprints in the sand 🙂

  6. susan knight Says:

    Dear Megan – I don’t know if you remember meeting me at your Aunt Colene’s house some time ago but I remember you. I never thought that we would have something in common but the more I hear about you the more I realize we are walking a similar path.

    Five years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We caught it early and I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction of both breasts at the same time. I still can’t believe it.

    At the time I was living close to where you live now. I remember the first time I was left alone after my surgery. I was tucked in to my king size bed. Someone had brought my mail in and it was way over there on the opposite side of the bed. I could see a Victoria’s secret catalog; my favorite. With great effort I managed to get out of bed and somehow picked up the catalog. They had the cutest work out clothes. I managed to pick up the phone and called and ordered myself a complete outfit, shoes and all. This time I didn’t need the Miracle Bra; just a miracle. I had it sent overnight.

    When the package arrived the next day I somehow got it open and dressed myself. I stepped outside onto the front steps and then I had a miracle. I realized I was alive today and that was all that mattered. So, I took a short walk and every day after that I walked a little further.

    I feel like I literally walked away from Breast Cancer or at least the fear. That is how I dealt with it. It is a tool that I’ve been able to use every day since. I’m not afraid of anything any more. I just don’t worry much and if I do I’m able to change my thinking right away. What they say about silver linings are true.

    My friends wanted me to go to a support group and I did but I am and was so emotional I just didn’t feel like I could do it. I didn’t want to upset anyone who was worse off than me. I guess it is like some sort of survivor guilt.

    Megan, I still have a hard time thinking about all the women suffering. I’m a little misty just writing to you today. But I have so much compassion to share and so many women that I didn’t know rushed to my side to give me support I think that it is high time that I come out of my breast cancer shell.

    If you ever have any questions for me on how I survived please feel free to contact me. Colene will give you my phone number.

    You are a very brave young woman and I’m proud of you for starting this blog. I look forward to learning of your progress.

    Take Care and God Bless,

    Susan Knight

    P.S. – I just finished my first painting. I would love to hear about the class you are taking.

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