AnnMarie Diagnosed at 40
There are all different dates people hold close to them during this stupid dumb cancer process. Some celebrate those dates, some have mild freak outs and some just let them pass. There i much debate as to which date to "honor" (boy that sounds so dumb I don't want to honor any of them). But needless to say, when they pop up we find ourselves doing that. Well maybe not 'honor'; lets call it reflecting. For me the mastectomy date melts into all the other surgeries that followed, the day I was told "You have cancer" was a dream like state and all the rest plays out like a jumbled mess. But the day I found that lump is embedded in my mind like a nightmare I can not ever shake. I had lumpy breasts, so finding a lump was typical but this was different.
It wasn't even so much as a regular self breast check; it was my arm laying on my breast and I felt it. I remember thinking it was in my head. I called Tom who literally rolled his eyes because you see I found lumps all the time. I had these lumpy, dense breasts and had been getting mammograms for 10 years watching for cysts. But he played the game and felt it. When he pressed my breast to feel for it black sludge came out of my nipple. His words were "what the f#*k is that?". Now if you know my husband, you know he isn't a WTF guy, he's more laid back. But seeing black sludge come out like a fountain on top of a real lump was a "WTF" moment. The day proceeded with me meeting my girlfriend MC at a breast cancer volunteer function where throughout the afternoon went into the bathroom to feel my breast and watch the sludge come out. I met a breast cancer survivor that day that had just finished her last radiation and I remember distinctly thinking how incredibly gorgeous she was. I needed that girl that day, who I met almost a year later, and I will call her my pink sister. Her face got me through that May 5th 2012.
The day I found that lump was a Saturday which made for the longest weekend of my ever loving life. It took forever to get to Monday when my GYN office opened, to when I heard Gia's voice. She immediately made a mammo/sono appointment for that afternoon. I went and kept thinking it's nothing, could be anything, probably nothing but was whispering "you got cancer don't be a dumbass". The office that did the mammo was one I went to all the time for all my previous mammos and sonograms and was really hoping my regular girl was there, she wasn't. For some reason this made me want to cry. So the tech did the mammo where black, thick discharge oozed all over the machine "I don't see anything on the image" she said to me. Seriously cause the thing just exploded on the plexiglass!! We went into the sono room where she took the wand and went over the lump -"I can feel it when I go over it but nothing is coming up". Are you kidding??? So she checks the normal box and tells me to follow up in six months. Yes this really is what happened. I remember driving over to my GYN office thinking maybe I should believe her, but there was that whisper.
When I got there my doctor and his fabu staff took me in room and that was that. He decided that I was seeing a breast care doctor, that a lump with black discharge was far from normal and that he wanted it looked at sooner than later. Have I ever said how much I love my GYN?? Have I ever said how much I love his staff??? How not only do I really believe that he got me into a doc fast, but that I believe he saved my life?? I am so beyond lucky to have a doctor that not only listened to my fears but knew that this was not normal.
I call it my "Cinco de Lumpo"; the day that changed in my life forever. The day I found a real lump. The day my husband had a big WTF moment. The day I realized how important it is to advocate for yourself, to have a doctor in your corner. The day that a self breast check showed me that it does work. The day that a mammo and sono failed me. The day that being a breast cancer survivor meant more than wearing a pink ribbon. The day that began the most surreal summer of my life. The day that tilted my tiara...just a little.
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