Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It turned out to be nothing

About 3 weeks ago, I felt a small lump in my right breast, right where the cancerous one had been removed 2 years ago. I got an appointment with my GP for July 13 and spent a nasty weekend prior to that, thinking dark thoughts. After she felt the lump, she referred me to the clinic at the Civic where I had my first ultrasound in July of 2008, when they found the cancer. I could only get an ultrasound appointment for this morning at 8 am.

Peter was planning to take holidays starting July 16 and he was going to bike around Lake Ontario or somewhere, while I campaigned. This lump put us both in limbo. He started his holidays anyway, so he could just hang out with me and be supportive, and we had a very quiet weekend, where we got in some nice biking and spent a lot of time on patios, thinking our own dark thoughts.

I have been thinking about the meaning of life. I have also been thinking about whether my body had betrayed me (again), what kind of surgery I would have this time and whether I would opt for chemo (again). I have been planning final trips and holidays in my head, thinking about cashing in my life insurance and RRSPs to do so, and other similarly grim thoughts.

This morning, we were up at 6 and out the door at 7, to bike over to the Civic. We got there in 35 minutes, so we were a tad early. My heart rate was up and I felt quite gloomy. When I was ushered in to the exam room, I asked if Peter could come with me, so I wouldn't have to tell him everything after it happened and so re-live a potentially negative experience. They said he couldn't come in with me. I shrugged. First a technician gave me the ultrasound and I watched the monitor while she ran the wand over me. I could see a dark lump on the screen but it looked different from the one 2 years ago. Then a very nice woman doctor (sweetly named Dr. Petal) came in and talked to me while she ran the wand over me. She pointed out the characteristics of this lump and told me that to her, it looked like it was a fat necrosis, or dead fat cells in a lump. In other words, scar tissue. It was still evolving, the scar tissue, because of the damage done by surgery and radiation and the fact that the fat lump wasn't getting any blood supply.

In fact, this is a key thing that distinguishes cancer from other tissue - it has a vigorous blood supply. And this lump had none. I let out my breath that I'd been holding for the last few weeks. She then asked the technician to go get Peter. They don't like other people in the room initially, because it is a small room and they can be distracting. But now that the work had been done, she allowed Peter in. He was relieved to hear what she had to say and she showed him what she was looking at on the monitor. She also said that she had looked at my file from 2 years ago, as well as the mammogram I had in November. She could see the lump on the mammogram (and she got out the film and showed it to me) and pointed out that it looked like scar tissue there also.

Nevertheless, to be entirely sure, I am going to have a needle biopsy, some time in the next 2 weeks. It will be one of those rare occasions when I willingly say to someone, "yes, please do stick a large needle into my chest and pull out tissue." However, I agree with her that it is probably just scar tissue and therefore, I can write this and get back to living. And running for office. And sewing. I've been a little distracted lately.

17 comments:

DawnSSL said...

God bless you and stay strong. I have nver had cancer. I have had a lump removed from my breast and a few years later a needle biopsy. I know that I can not begin to comprehend your situation but I just want to share and pray for you. Dawn

JuliaR said...

Thanks Dawn. All the people I know who have gone through this have had to do it all in their own way - the way that works for them. I thank you for your prayers.

Claire S. said...

I cannot begin to comprehend what you've been through the past year or so but my prayers have been with you.

I was very glad to see you posting again !

Julia said...

Whew!

JuliaR said...

Amen, Claire and Julia!

Rose said...

Great News! I think that you are wise to have the needle biopsy - just to be sure.

TheQuack said...

Oh, Julia - MY heart rate skyrocketed when I read this. Thank goodness all seems alright. BIG hugs!

Anonymous said...

Very well done, and I'm wishing you the best for your election. I know exactly what you went through both times, as I was positively diagnosed in one breast and "suspiciously" assessed in the other. I had both removed and replaced with prosthesis, followed by chemo. It's been fifteen months now since the dreadful day of the first sonagram and biopsies, but I'm coming out the other end. It can be worse, as you know, but I'm writing to say that even when it's worse, it finally is okay, too, if you take the courage and love at hand to brave it out.

Mary Beth said...

I'm a cancer survivor and know this feeling well. I'd say it's time for you to be congratulated on surviving to the other side of breath-holding scariness (without ending up in the looney bin! Yay!!!

JuliaR said...

Thanks everyone! It's because the first cancer was a grade 3 aggressive, triple negative tumor, that I worried it had come back. They gave me odds that it would come back, even with chemo, of 15% so I was thinking about that. Never mind - onwards and upwards!

Marty said...

Whew! I've had those same ultrasounds, and, Praise God, they've all come out the same. But every single time your life stops for a bit. So happy for you! Now, get some sewing done! (I know I can't sew when I'm upset or distracted, either)

Flamingo K said...

Just saw your posting, and your description of the trauma of hearing that your cancer may have metastasized brought back a flood of memories. I'm so very happy that your prognosis turned out so happily. Having the biopsy is a very very smart move....put a period behind the whole thing. It will ease your mind like nothing else will. God Bless.

Anne said...

I was looking for sewing blogs and happened to come along and seen your post here. I to went through something a little simular to you but the ultrasound and a diagnostic mamagram could not find any cancer so I did not need a biopsy. Sometimes I felt something and at other times I couldn't. But the not knowing was very scary. I even wrote a post about it on my blog. I wasn't going to and then I thought, what the heck, why not. Thanks for sharing your story to others. I'm sure alot of woman would like to feel the comfort of knowing that they also were feeling how you and your spouse were feeling. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

As someone who too has been through a carbon copy of your "journey" with this disease. Remember for there to be Survival Stats. Someone has to do the surviving. And you are and why should that not continue to be the case. So keep smiling, it hates it when you smile.Blinking hard at times but we get there.X

JuliaR said...

Thank you for your thoughts! It's so interesting how many people have been through similar experiences. I'm going for the biopsy in an hour and then will wait for results but with a lighter heart than I waited for the ultrasound.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, I had stage I cancer 5 years ago and just had hte sme kind of scare. They found it was just scar tissue.

Peace

Your friend in New Mexico

JuliaR said...

As a follow-up, the biopsy was cancer-free, as expected, as the radiologist who did the ultrasound predicted. Excelsior!