I went to see the Breast Surgeon. She did a short exam then sat down with me with a simple drawing of the ducts in my breast and explained how the BC developed, what I had and what the next steps would be. It is invasive ductile BC, which means it starts in the ducts and then breaks out and “invades” the breast tissue to form the lump. She had written down the side 5-10 years and explained that it probably had been growing for that long before the lump grew.
She went on to discuss the therapies I’d need: mastectomy, removal of lymph nodes, reconstruction could be done immediately after mastectomy, then chemotherapy (to be determined by Medical Oncologist) and potentially radiation therapy (determined by the Radiation Oncologist. I was a deer in the headlights. So much information, so many decisions so many doctors to see. What was my first question…OMG, we are scheduled to go to Japan next week should we cancel? Go, they said, another week or two won’t make any difference in therapy. You’ll come back in the week after you come home and we’ll schedule surgery.
Then a nurse swept in with a white binder, sat down next to me and opened it up. My appointment with the Plastic Surgeon was already set up, as well as my return appointment with the Breast Surgeon, there was information about the Cancer Care Team, everyone’s card with phone numbers, a video detailing exercising after surgery, everything set and ready to go.
I got home and burst into tears. Part sadness and fear, part depression, part relief there was this team that was going to get me through this step by step, holding my hand, guiding me until my life would get back to normal. What did my future normal life look like….
Then this little voice inside me said, this has been growing for 5-10 years, whats wrong with this picture. I stopped crying and realized we really can’t adequately diagnose BC in a timely fashion if this has been growing inside me for 5-10 years. I have been faithful in getting yearly exams at the doctor, annual mammograms and doing self exams at least every other month. And it was missed.