Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lisa's not-so-excellent adventure (complete with happy ending)

Now that it’s all over, and I can say the news is good and I’m OK, let me tell you the saga of my brush with breast cancer.

I had a routine mammogram at the beginning of September. It took a while to get the results, and when I did, it was not an answer, but just a note to say that my old films from Kaiser in Maryland had been requested so they could compare them with my current films.

This did not fill me with a sense of hope.

Time passed, and I communicated both with my primary care physician and a radiologist, but nothing seemed to be happening. During this time, I also being evaluated for thyroid nodules, which was an added stressor.

I heard back from the radiologist in mid-October, saying they were still waiting for my old films. This made me want to hop on a plane and wrest them from Kaiser personally, but I resisted the temptation and complained to my PCP instead.  (Poor guy - he was really patient with me.)

Fast-forward to the end of last week, when I received a letter in the mail from the Breast Center at OHSU, informing me that they’d wanted me to come back in for further imaging on my right breast *since the beginning of October*.  Clearly, some communication had gone awry, since I’d had no message from MyChart, nor anything in the mail.

So in a panic, I tried to call last Friday to schedule and appointment, but couldn’t get through. I called again yesterday and got appointments for a second mammogram and a first ultrasound for this morning.

Then, taking a leaf from Jay’s book, I did not follow my first instinct, which was to curl up in a ball and hide with this news. I emailed a bunch of friends, and got a lot of support and love. That helped a lot with the stress.

Today brought the most painful boob smashing I’ve ever had, but it also brought the news that the thing they saw was just a cyst, small and of no worry.

I came home and burst into tears.

This is my third brush with potential cancer in the past year.  Last fall (a year ago), it was cervical cancer as we were getting ready to go to England for WFC and then ended up going to Maryland to help close out my parents’ affairs there after my father’s stroke. Then this summer, the thing with my thyroid. Now this.

I have one last scan to do - I need to do a colonoscopy, but I talked my doctor into letting me do a poop card, which I’ve been putting off because one medical mystery at a time, please, while I still have that luxury.


I’m exhausted and emotionally very tender at the moment. Every time this comes up, it brings all the memories of Jay’s illness rushing back. I now know at a very basic level the emotional texture that his scanxiety brought, and the feeling of Schrodinger’s tumor.  Here’s hoping I never have to get more intimately acquainted with that anxiety. 

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