What if the cancer is back...
Radiation caused noticeable changes in my treated breast. The muscle is a little more tough, the skin is certainly more tight and the expander has shrunken in size.
As a result, I check both breasts almost daily. So, imagine my surprise when I noticed my armpit felt a little different. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something was off.
It took almost a week of massaging an aggravated chord in my arm before I realized what had changed - I had lost sensation. And the tissue I thought was a chord, now felt like a small lump.
I already had an appointment scheduled with my primary care doctor because the side effects of Lupron are challenging to say the least. So, I decided to throw in "Something feels different in my breast and there's a knot in my armpit."
Immediately, the doctor called a nurse to witness the exam. I pulled down the sleeve to my dress at the neckline (because I literally tried to remember reasons I shouldn't wear a dress that morning and couldn't think of any).
I raised my arm so he could feel what I felt.
"Oh, that feels like a swollen lymph node," he said. "I'm concerned about that.We need to get an ultrasound."
I sat back in my chair in silence.
"I wonder if they didn't get it [the cancer] all," he said.
His words didn't make sense.
Is this a recurrence? Could I really have cancer, again?
I felt anxious, numb even, but I was calm.
I left the office and texted my mom and Souers before I drove home. I waited a few hours before I texted my best friend.
"He said it feels like a swollen lymph node," I typed. "I have to do an ultrasound tomorrow."
Immediately, my best friend wanted the appointment details. I didn't want her to drive out of her way, but I was thankful for the offer.
I couldn't make sense of how I really felt. I just felt calm. So, I had a heart to heart with myself.
Do you believe God's will is for you to prosper? Yes.
Do you trust God's will? Yes.
Then, why are you afraid? I'm not.
My calm was peace.
I know I can handle whatever comes my way because ultimately, God's will is for me to prosper. So, I decided that regardless of the test results, I would be fine.
Wednesday, I went to work and I really should have taken a half-day because I felt unfocused.
My computer wouldn't print and the new IT guy had to come down and fix it. I didn't realize it then, but God used him to send me a message.
As he was waiting for my computer to reboot, he took a look at all the quotes I pinned around my cubicle.
"This one's my favorite," he said pointing at the index card. "Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith."
I left work early to head to my doctor's appointment. Souers surprised me by meeting me at the hospital. I could have gone alone, but I'm glad I didn't have to.
I went into the dressing room and changed into the pink gown (I'll tell you why I hate pink for breast exams in another post).
It wasn't long before they called me back. I laid down on the table and forced my arm behind my head. I couldn't feel the gel when it was placed in my armpit and accidentally smeared it across my chest trying to readjust the towel.
I looked up at the monitor to see what I could see with my untrained eyes.
Finally, a round "mass" came into view. The tech took several pictures and then asked me to wait.
"I need to get the doctor to look at these," she said. "Hold tight."
This feeling felt all to familiar, but I remained calm.
Everything's okay. It's not something til it's something.
Suddenly, the tech returned to the room.
"So, she's not concerned. It looks like something on the surface, like a cyst."
I couldn't stop smiling. I wiped the gel from under my arm and jumped off the table. I walked swiftly to the dressing room. I couldn't wait to tell Souers.
As I was exiting the women's waiting room, the tech stopped me in the hallway.
"Mrs. Souers, the doctor would like to take another look at your breast. She saw you were in the hospital recently."
I walked back into the exam room.
"I saw you were having some breast pain recently," she said. "Is it better?"
"Yeah. It was an infection around my expander," I said slowly. "It's better, but I have this section that was really sore and now, it's just numb."
"Do you want us to check it out?"
"Please," I said quickly undressing and hopping back on the table.
As I was laying down, I took a second look at the doctor.
"Have I seen you before?" I asked. "Were you at Emerson?"
"Yes! I do remember you," said the doctor.
She was the doctor that read my ultrasound the second time around. It was her decision to say she was unsure that allowed my breast surgeon to get the MRI that found my cancer.
"Thank you for making the call you did," I told her. "You saved my life."
She was surprised. "You're so welcome," she responded.
She walked over to take a look at the images the tech was taking.
"Everything looks good," she smiled. "Typical post-treatment stuff."
Once again I thanked her and hopped off the table. I got dressed, again and walked back out to the general waiting room.
I was so excited I wanted to scream across the room as soon as I saw Souers.
"It's just a cyst," I said and I received a kiss in exchange for my good news.