I found a lump in my left breast in late October 2016. I was sure it was nothing to worry about, but I decided to poll all of my friends about what I should do because it literally came out of nowhere. I actually thought it may be a pulled muscle from grueling Bassline workouts, carrying children around, or my giant purse. My friends convinced me that it was better to be safe than sorry, so I made an appointment to see my primary care physician. My doctor, Dr. Anne Tuttle, who I've been going to since I moved to Kirkland (who is the absolute best PCP), wasn't too concerned given my lack family history with breast and ovarian cancer and my overall health, but ordered a mammogram and ultrasound.
One of my very best friends Kelli insisted on coming with me to my appointments. She was far more nervous than I was. I was the one telling her everything was going to be just fine. I just wasn't scared; I don't know why. I will never be able to explain why I felt so confident nothing was wrong. I tend to be in tune with my body and somewhat of a worrier also, so I thought my gut would tell me if something was wrong. During my appointment, Kelli and I laughed, made inappropriate comments, and enjoyed spending time together - albeit at the Virgina Mason Breast Clinic rather than over margaritas or some sparkling. I was still confident nothing was wrong. The ultrasound tech preformed ultrasounds everyday for 20 years, and she thought I had nothing to worry about either (I liked her answer). However, the radiologist was suspicious and said I would have to have a biopsy to confirm what the lump was.
The next Monday Kelli met me for my core needle biopsy and then we rendezvoused for a much deserved Cactus blended margarita (okay 2, Kelli was a wreck)! They said they would call me with results ASAP, but given that it was the week of Thanksgiving, I would likely hear from them on Wednesday or Friday.
The radiologist who took the biopsy said the pathologist may have to do more washes on the sample if it was more complicated than they thought, so if it was "bad news" I would be more likely to hear from them on Friday. They didn’t call me on Wednesday. For the first time since I discovered the lump, I began to get nervous.
I decided to enjoy Thanksgiving with my wonderful work family, as I knew I would not receive any news on Thanksgiving Day. When the phone rang first thing in the morning on Friday, November 25th, I knew by the number that this was the phone call I had been waiting for. It’s hard to explain how I felt at that moment. The doctor said the tumor was malignant, and I knew what malignant meant, but I couldn’t register what she was saying. Then she said it: "You have breast cancer." My heart sank, and I began shaking uncontrollably. I was in shock!
I couldn’t even write down what she was saying to me because I was shaking so hard. I didn’t understand much about breast cancer, my breast cancer, at this point other that it wasn’t estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive. She told me that just to assure me I could continue take hormonal birth control. She told me a nurse would be calling me to set up appointments with my surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist.
I called my sister first and then a number of my closest friends. A couple of my best girlfriends were at my house within minutes to be with me while I processed the information. At first, I was unaware of how serious my cancer was. The day seemed to get worse as I learned more about Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I avoided calling my parents because I knew this news would break their hearts. That was by far the hardest part. Once I found out how serious my cancer was, I decided I had to call them. I had not even told them about the lump because I didn’t want to worry them unnecessarily because I was so certain it was nothing. So to tell them the awful news was extra shocking to them.
I have an amazing friend who works at Virginia Mason in the Breast Cancer unit come and explain to me exactly what my diagnosis was and what to expect. There were A LOT of tears. It meant surgery. It meant many months of chemotherapy. It meant radiation. It possibly meant early menopause. It was a lot to take in, but I was so fortunate to have her explain what was in store for me rather than look online or just wait until my appointment five long days away!
I'm going to do my best to post entries here, but there will be times I won’t be updating because I’ll be busy surviving or just enjoying a great new normal day. I intend on keeping my posts authentically Courtney, so that will include brutal honestly and the occasional cuss word (that could also be the steroids), so beware! I hope to help people by sharing my story. I know not everyone is interested in all of the gruesome details of my treatment, but I am an open book. So, if anyone ever has questions for me or wants me to talk to a friend of theirs or anything...I am here and willing! I am very annoyed CaringBridge won't allow me to edit dates (something they're allegedly working on), so please disregard the dates to the left of my posts. I just needed to get something up to keep people posted! Please check in to follow my journey. I appreciate everyone's thoughts, prayers, encouragement, cards, donations, messages, well-wishes...everything!! Nothing like a little cancer to really know how many people love you and care about you! If you are interested in donating, a friend set up a go fund me at the following link. https://www.gofundme.com/courtneytritt