Full disclosure: My story is a bit long and riddled with cuss words. 'Cause you know, cancer sucks. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hi, I'm Lindsey. I just turned 35, and I have Breast Cancer. Wait. WHAT????
I've said that last part out loud to a few new people this week and every time I do it makes me cry. So in the interest of time and because so many people have reached out, I've decided to start this page. I'll update when I can...with what I feel is worth sharing...and maybe even some stuff not worth sharing but may be hilarious (the MRI was a real zinger).
My journey began just after my 35th birthday. I found a lump - well, more like a chicken tender - in my left breast. Thinking this was anything BUT the c-word, I called my OB/GYN and they got me in right away. I tell ya, when you tell your doctor "lump in breast" they put you on the fast train to Diagnosis Town. My OB confirms that something's there, but has no idea what it could be. Or maybe he knew and didn't want to be the one send me into panic mode. Either way, he sent me off for a mammagram and ultrasound.
Mam day. This started off as a great day. I felt good. Confident. Positive. But most important, non-cancery. So the mammogram. F*ck that machine. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, allow me to throw some hot words out for you: squish, squeeze, ouch, hold your breath, grab that bar, let the plate come to you, tell me when it's too much to handle, squash, smash, presssssssssssure. I will never look at a Hot Table panini the same way again. Next was the ultrasound. This my friends is when my confidence left the building. Pretty sure she went to the bar for stiff drink. We'd need it. It was after a few minutes of the ultrasound tech exploring my left side and my arm pit when the doctor came in and did some of her own checks. She put the ultrasound thingy down and looked at me with tears in her eyes. RED FLAG. "You have a mass in your breast and your lymph node is concerning as well, we need to get this biopsied as soon as possible."
Biopsy day. Another day of feeling great...at peace almost. For the first time, I felt like everything was totally out of my control and I had no choice to be ok with it all. The staff at Baystate Breast & Wellness Center were lovely as always. After three snips (with a tool that sounds like mousetrap), I was on my way. My non-cancery feeling was certainly not strong, but I was holding out hope.
Results Day. Brett and I went to the appointment and sat in the waiting room just staring. I don't think I took one complete belly breath that whole time. Brett was reading a magazine article about dragonflies. For those of you who know the significance of dragonflies in our lives, you probably just let out a collective sigh. So we were called into a room and sat around a round table. It felt like a "bad news" kind of table. A doctor and nurse came in and introduced themselves like we were sitting around a friends graduation party. Only we weren't at a party, and after she said her name (don't even ask), she slid a paper across the table and said "I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you have breast cancer." I wish I could tell you how I felt at that moment. I actually don't remember. I do remember a couple moments later the tears, the questions, and shaking, the complete...utter...fucking disbelief. Sorry, but cancer deserves f-bombs. Little bitch.
A few days later we meet with my surgeon. Hands down the nicest, tallest female doctor I've ever met. We talked about my options with surgery, and how the road ahead would probably look. We agreed I would have the BRCA testing done - some of you may refer to this as the Angelina Jolie thing - to see if I carry any genetic mutations that would cause breast cancer...and many others. We had a plan. I felt good. I mean, I was ready to saw these jerks off my body myself but apparently that's frowned upon in this country.
MRI Day. They just can't get enough of these things apparently. If you can imagine for a moment the ridiculousness of a breast MRI. You lay on what looks like a massage table, nice comfy hole for your face. Oh, and a big giant one for your breasts. I had to do a double take. And nothing makes one feel chubbier than a MRI tech on each side of you pulling back all your excess skin and fat to make sure that it's just your gems falling through the cave of wonders. 30 very loud minutes later MRI was done and I was on my way. Still cancer-y, but not sad. Just...being.
The next day, meet and greet with my Oncologist. I was a little anxious for this one, but really just thinking we'd be talking about pro's and con's on lumpectomy versus bilateral mastectomy, and what the BRCA would really tell us and what we do with that information. F*ck I was wrong. My Oncologist was to the point, clearly hates small talk - and got right to business. In short - the MRI results show the tumor to be bigger than they thought and I need to start chemo therapy as soon as possible. Oh wait. So I like actually have cancer? Like the real kind? Yup.
The tears have been plentiful. Sometimes I'm convinced I've got none left, but then I see someone in the grocery store and tell them the news and I'm suddenly weeping over the basil. For anyone and everyone that has shown interest and concern, thrown a text our way, offered to "clean floors", make food, or just sit and stare - We love you. Thank you for all you do, and all you want to! It's hard to accept help now because things still feel so normal. Once things get underway I know we'll be singing a different tune. And let's be honest, my floors always need a good cleaning.