It started with an irritation in my left breast that would sometimes feel like I was being poked with an icepick. Not a pleasant feeling but I was sure it was nothing. After about a week I began to ask myself what this could be? When I looked in the mirror after showering I noticed that my left nipple didn’t look like the right and was in fact inverted. After feeling around I noticed a lump that wasn’t present on the other side. Hmmm, what could this be?
Now I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I was pretty sure at this point I should have it looked at. Fortunately I already had an appointment set up with my doctor, I only needed to wait two weeks. No problem, it’s probably nothing. That’s what I told myself anyways. The visit went well, I’m in good shape, a real beacon of health. Before I left my doctor’s office I said, hey doc, before I go, could you look at my chest? Do you feel a lump here? His answer was yes, and said a mammogram was in order and had it scheduled for a month out. No big deal, it’s probably nothing.
As the month went by the pain an irritation was diminished but always still there. My nipple was still inverted though. I thought that would have changed by now. On May 19th I had my mammogram. The nurse did her best to take any breast flesh I had and put it in the machine. It’s not a pleasant feeling but at the same time it wasn’t that bad. The nurse had a look on her face as she was looking at the image on the screen. I saw it too, there was something there. She took lots of images and left the room and told me to follow her to another waiting room until she was ready for me again. Next up, the ultrasound.
Now this wasn’t so bad, a little gel and a wave of the magic wand over the area of concern. I was watching and could see a dark mass on the screen. Lots of measurements being taken. Then a scan under my arm to check what I think was the closest lymph node to my left breast. More measurements and a look of concern. She said, I’ll be back, but not in the Arnold Schwarzenegger voice. That would have been funny. When she returned, a doctor was with her. She looked at me and said, I’m not liking what I’m seeing. She said, “There is a mass in your breast. To be honest, when you came in I thought it was going to be gynecomastia (a benign breast condition that can be common in men). Your mass doesn’t fit that. I’m also mildly concerned about the calcification going on in your lymph node. I would be more concerned if I saw a thickening of the lymph node but we should probably check it out. We should get on this right away, as a matter of fact, I will make sure you’re the first person on the schedule for a biopsy in the morning.”
The next day I drove back down to the VA hospital in Orlando. This is a wonderful hospital, very modern and the staff is so pleasant. I arrived a half hour early and didn’t wait long. It was time to biopsy this thing. The doctor said she would take a few snips of the mass on my breast and a couple of the lymph node. A few shots of of something to numb the area and I would be ready. You’ll feel a slight pinch, she said. I thought this was going to be the worst of it. Next you’ll hear a snapping sound as a chunk is taken from the tissue. Ok, I’m not feeling anything, that is until the last one. That fourth snip must have been deeper than the numbing agent went. I wave of nausea hit me and I felt clammy all over. That didn’t feel good, I said. Ooops! Thankfully the biopsy of the lymph node didn’t hurt at all.
I was told I would receive results from my doctor as early as the next day or, more likely, early next week. When my phone rang first thing in the morning my doctor said, “Your results are back from the biopsy.” I was surprised to get the call so quickly but my doctor said the VA takes cancer very seriously. He said, “You have breast cancer and it is also present in your lymph node. We are going to authorize you to see a local oncologist due to the fact that you live far enough away from the Orlando VA hospital.”
So here I am, waiting to be called by an oncologist. Lots to think about and ponder. Is it anywhere else? It is in my lymph nodes after all. The super highway of my body. I hope not. Time to pray and time to share so others will pray. Will you pray?