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Breast Cancer: My Journey

Posted Aug 10 2012 6:30am

In December 2011, I found a small lump in my left breast. I wasn’t too concerned about it as I’ve had many fibrous bits come and go over the years thanks to hormonal fluctuations. The general rule I was told to follow was to wait 30 days and see if there was any change. If the lump was gone, great! If it changed in any manner to see the doc.

This lump fell into the latter of the two categories. In fact, in the course of a month, the lump that started out the size of a pencil eraser had grown tremendously and hurt. This wasn’t the norm for all the lumps I had found in the past and I called my gynecologist.

I saw that doctor the same day I called. Upon examining the lump, he felt it was best to get me in for a mammogram and ultrasound. The next day, I experienced my first mammogram. It wasn’t as bad as all the horror stories I had heard before, though it was quite uncomfortable. The technician had me wait while the Radiologist viewed the x-rays. It was decided that I would need to have an ultrasound to rule out a few possibilities.

The next morning, I had my ultrasound. The same technician that had performed my mammogram did the ultrasound. She was kind and chatted with me about anything other than my breasts or the lump. After a few minutes, she became silent and measured and measured the same lump again. She took many pictures and said she would be back in a few minutes after the radiologist viewed the images. She also told me that he often comes in to talk to patients and not to be alarmed.

I heard her footsteps down the hall and heard two sets of footsteps returning. I knew the radiologist would be coming in and nervously awaited the discussion.

When the radiologist came in, we discussed the lump that was over an inch in length. He said that while most of the tissue looked like your standard fibrous tumor, in the very center was a spot that concerned him as it “behaved like an aggressive form of breast cancer.” He recommended I see the surgeon immediately to schedule a biopsy or  surgery to remove the entire mass. 

I spent the next hour in a tunnel. I thought about my children, my husband, my life, and how I had so many unfinished goals. I choked up at the possibility of battling cancer. I trembled at the thought of my children facing life without me in their lives. I was mortified. Then I scheduled an appointment with the surgeon.

This is me and my journey

My visit went well and the conversation had was good. We opted to get the entire mass out of me as quickly as possible. We both felt that it was in my best interest to act quickly; not just for my physical health, but also my mental health of stressing over the conversations had up through that point. Surgery was scheduled for the following week, on Valentine’s Day.

When I arrived for surgery, I was a nervous wreck. I also had a slight fever and by grace, I checked out healthy in all areas so the procedure progressed forward. I had to be sedated for surgery, which is never fun. I didn’t remember much of coming out of the anesthesia or making my way home except that I hurt.

And hurt I did for weeks. I dealt with blood seeping from my nipple (normal), aches when I walked (normal), and an allergic reaction to the betadine used to sterilize my skin (abnormal). The pain I felt from anything touching my skin (due to the rash) was wretched. But, with time, that pain subsided and I began to feel much more like myself.

The day came when I was scheduled to meet with my surgeon to review the biopsy results. I felt half incapacitated! The results, however, were the best that we could have asked for given the circumstances. At the very center of the mass precancerous cells were discovered. PRECANCEROUS.

And my surgeon looked at me and smiled as he said, “You are the picture-woman for breast self exams. We couldn’t ask for better news.” Our conversation continued and decisions were made as to follow up. I left the office with tears in my eyes and thankful that I had the opportunity to continue living my life and teaching my children some of the greatest lessons of their lives.

It’s been just under 6 months since I had surgery and I’m now due for repeat films of my breast. To say I’m nervous is an understatement.

No matter how nervous I am, I know that I can assist in my own health through fabulously wonderful fruits and vegetables that have healing properties known to combat cancer. Later this week, I’ll share those foods with you and a recipe that combines many of them together for a delicious, raw treat that infuses vital nutrients into your body – just like in mine.

To add some lightness to a heavy post, here’s a humorous photo that my oldest son managed to snap as I was going to sit down. I couldn’t help but share!

Mysti Reutlinger

So much for sitting or having a head!

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