My cancer story starts out like many others. I had a family history of breast cancer so I started getting baseline mammograms at age 40. Ten years of clear results, but just before my 50th birthday I got a call from the mammography place that they would like to run another one. Now, I did let a trainee help with the procedure so maybe the just need better views…I wasn’t too worried. I went in for the second mammogram and this time they weren’t fooling around. I’m a big girl and mammograms have never hurt me, but this one was really snug. Then the wait…I would spend a lot of time over the next few months waiting. They came back in and said they wanted to do an ultrasound at that moment I heard “malignant” whispered into my consciousness. I tried to keep myself busy with the process “We won’t know for sure until we do a biopsy” so my husband and I waited for 10 days to get the biopsy scheduled. My husband began his dutiful journey of waiting as well. Waiting for me to come out of a procedure, waiting for me to wake up from a nap, waiting for me to feel better, waiting for me while I tried to work, waiting while I was being infused. Two days later on June 21, 2012, I got the phone call. I had just parked my car in the company parking lot when the phone rang I was wanting to get all of this over so I picked up. Alone in my car I heard the words “The biopsy came back and it is malignant”. Malignant? Now what? I heard the same voice whisper “chemotherapy”. The nice woman on the phone, I couldn’t tell you her name if you offered me a million dollars, explained that there was support, and that we weren’t sure about the size, or type of cancer. We started the testing process MRI’s more biopsies of “suspicious” areas. Meeting with a surgeon. At some point, a co-worker asked me who my “breast doctor” was. “Breast Doctor”? They had never needed their own doctor before. I hadn’t thought of a doctor that would tend specifically to my breasts…how wonderful. She gave me the number of her doctor. It took me a while to convince myself that I deserved a second opinion. Note to future self…you always deserve the best treatment you can get. When I met Dr. Colleen Murphy, I knew I was in good hands.
In the meantime, I gathered a group of Reiki practitioners and friends. The first biopsy site was not healing well so we worked on that and keeping my personal energetic up and running at full force. The nice thing about Reiki is that it can be done remotely. This group sent me energy continually through the process. We got together several times before I started my chemotherapy to work on the surgical issues. It meant a lot to me to have this group and utilizing Reiki helped me to keep a sense of being whole and secure. Today my scaring is minimal even at the first biopsy site, which was not pretty for quite a while. My surgical oncologist did amazing work and that combined with the Reiki support helped me to heal.
You may have gathered that I opted for a lumpectomy. It is a common occurrence that women choose to have prophylactic mastectomies. Uncommon Kami that is I. I never felt as if my body had turned against me or let me down. Over that past few years, I had been doing spiritual and emotional work. I had processed quite a bit of emotional baggage, and always felt my body had gathered all of the toxic waste that could not be cleared energetically. It had moved it into one area and started sending me messages to get it out. I had felt sick and tired for quite awhile before the diagnosis. The moment I woke up from my surgery, I felt better than I had in quite some time. My body wanted me healthy so I promised it I would do everything I could to help it heal.
The tumor and sentinel lymph node were removed and sent to the lab for review. The results came back
Invasive ductal Aden carcinoma (lumpectomy)
Macrometastatic adenocacinoma involving one of one lymph node with focal extra nodal extension of 0.2 cm.
Estimated size of tumor 3.6 cm
What did this mean to me? Not much more than I would need chemotherapy and radiation at first. Later I absorbed more. The cancer had gotten into a lymph node and was working very hard to get out. It was aggressive, estrogen sensitive, and malignant. I was not Her2 positive there was that blessing.