It was 10 year ago today that I had my bilateral open breast biopsies (or lumpectomies). It was probably the most emotional day of my life. I was scared, anxious and humiliated. I remember getting the needles to locate the lesions placed at the Breast Center. They taped paper cups over these needles. Then I got a hospital gown, and we had to drive halfway across town to the surgery center. There I sat in the waiting room with other surgical patients. I remember one other woman who showed up with the cups under her gown as well. Everyone else in the room was in street clothes. It was horrifying to be sitting there with these cups sticking out under the gown. Tom and I went to the restroom, and I had a good long cry there. Thankfully I did have Tom with me, and my father had showed up as a surprise too. I met him in the hallway to the bathroom at the breast center before the needles were placed. It was such an amazingly nice surprise to see him, and know that he cared.
I was finally called back to pre-op. I had a package I had wanted mailed so Tom and Dad found the post office while I was in the operating room. When I recovered the nurse was concerned because my blood pressure had been quite low. She said it was from the fentanyl or versed I had received. But then I recovered and walked out of there. I was surprised there was no wheelchair for me. Tom helped me into the truck, and we headed home.
Later Dad told me that Tom was pretty upset and worried while they were on the post office chore. But all went well after that. I recovered at home, and my biopsy results showed no cancer. I took tamoxifen for 5 years, and my breast cancer risk now should be about the national average of ~17% (which is disgraceful BYW). I had 5 years of yearly MRI alternating with mammograms. I have also had several other breast lumps that have not proved to be worrisome enough for biopsies.
But to commemorate this anniversary I have yet another breast lump and a doctor appointment this afternoon to have it evaluated. I would love to blow it off, but I know better. I know people battling breast cancer as I type. And the woman whose story led to my original lump detection is still living with chronic cancer. And so the journey continues. But I really hope I never have to sit in a waiting room full of people with needles, cups and a gown again.
Here are the previous posts related to my breasts’ journeys:
And I will again reiterate what Shadowfax stated in Movin’ Meat over 10 years ago now “Cancer sucks …and if you have breasts, or know someone who does, remind them to take a moment and do a breast self exam.” I would add if over 40 get a yearly mammogram as well.