For some reason out of all days and years I could have written this story, today I decided is the day. With all of the beautiful pinks everywhere the thought of Breast Cancer Awareness has taken over me.
When I was 18 we moved after living in our home at the time for 15 years. During the move my right arm was really sore. Mainly under my armpit. I didn't think much of it as I was doing a lot more labor during the move than I was used to. That was June. August came about, a week before my 19th birthday and I was taking a shower. I felt a small hard bump in my right breast. Not thinking much about it I went to see my sister and just asked if she ever got bumps in her breasts. She said cysts are common and the doctors have found those before. So I brushed it off.
On my 19th Birthday I woke up to my right armpit very sore and my entire right breast was in pain. I woke my mom and said... "Mom, I have some sort of lump in my boob and it really hurts.." She felt it quickly and jumped out of bed. Now, I've been sick on and off throughout my life, more than any kid should so my Mom was used to me waking her up and being calm about it. That day though, her reaction made me more scared.
I called out of work and so did she. I was still seeing my pediatrician at the time because I was too much of a baby to move on to an 'adult' doctor as well go see an OBGYN. My regular pediatrician who was male I'm guessing felt too uncomfortable so he had the female pediatrician in their practice come see me. She felt the lump and said that I really need to go see an OBGYN and that she said, to set your mind at ease it feels like a cyst. My heart stopped racing.
My mom was able to get me into her OBGYN within an hour from see my pediatrician. The Doctor was 'okay'. He made too many jokes and I understand he was just trying to make me feel comfortable. He felt the lump and said well is good news and bad news. I said just tell me them both as fast as possible. The Doctor said, "The good news is that this is just a cyst.... the bad news is we'll have to surgically remove it so it never comes back.." I said "... well is there anything you can do right now because it hurts?" He said that he could drain it as they do for cysts for the time being. I know what a disgusting term but that's the wording he used. I told him to go for it, I didn't care and needles didn't bother me much. As he went to do that procedure he pulled the needle back and only blood was being drawn. He took a step back and apologized as he realized that was not a cyst but a tumor.
Along with bloodwork taken that day I ended up going home with the words from the Doctors that this is possibly cancer and I would need to go see a Breast Cancer specialist. I'm 19. It was my 19th Birthday.. I just couldn't comprehend it all. My mom brought me home and I laid in bed crying. I cried because of selfish reasons. I wasn't familiar with Breast Cancer but all the people I knew that had different types of cancer, ended up passing on. I also, didn't want to lose my breasts. I was young and naive and of course image is too important at that time.
Charlie visited me that night at my parents. He was so supportive. He was so sweet. He made me feel beautiful no matter what would happen and said he would be there for me along the way.
A week later I was sent for a mammogram. My first and only one I've had to date. Shortly after I was scheduled to go see one of the top 5 Breast Cancer Specialists in the entire US who was based right out of Hartford, CT. Charlie was able to get time off work to go with me. As we walked into this small waiting room there was over 10 women sitting around me. Some with huge portfolios with scans, some looking very sick. I was the youngest. I felt like a tiny child in that moment. I immediately tensed up thinking am I really here? Charlie grabbed my hand and said..."look around..at the wall... look at all of these awards that the doctor has Katie... you're in really good hands." We waited... for hours. We were passed the time that my appointment was scheduled. I was fine, because I knew this was a last minute appointment and these women are all important.
I finally was called in. It was a hallway of what looked to have been 8 rooms; however, this Doctor worked alone. He came into the room I sat on the cold table and smiled. He introduced himself and with the most sincere smile, I started to cry. I couldn't stop crying. Before I could even say who I was or answer his questions, I told him...." I am so scared. I don't want to die." He took a moment, smiled and said, "Katie.. you're going to be okay." He had this little recorder, like a detective and talked into it as he talked to me. He did an ultrasound and looked at the results from the week prior of blood work from my other doctors.
The Doctor told me that he didn't think this was cancer but would need to remove the tumor. I remember when he said the word "tumor" I cried even more. After doing the ultrasound he stated that I had a very irregular shaped tumor that he's never seen before.
2 weeks later they scheduled my surgery. My Dad and Charlie both went as my cheerleaders. They kept each other company during my surgery as well keeping my sane prior to it. My Doctor was amazing.
A few weeks later from my surgery I had to go back. My Doctor informed me that there was no cancer found but the tumor was irregular. What did that mean? He stated that he had a bad feeling this wouldn't be the last tumor to grow in my breast. He said the shape of the tumor was not like others he saw. He wanted me to come back in 3 months, for blood work and for more tests to make sure nothing has changed.
To jump ahead 1 year later the Doctor found the second one growing in the same breast but a new location. I have now had 3 breast tumors removed to date. The worst part of all is the Doctor I was seeing only was able to do my first surgery as he had a stroke the next year and no longer can practice. I felt alone as he was the only Doctor so far that tried to figure out what was wrong and why I keep getting these. This is something I'm living with and will continue to live with.
I ask all you ladies out there, not to ignore your gut. If you feel something is wrong, then proceed with finding answers. You are important and your body needs taking care of.