Naturally, I am just starting my journal today and I am already months behind. I will do my best to catch everyone up real quick without a lot of extra jabber.
I have cancer.
Wow. Way easier than I thought! ;)
I knew I had cancer for a long time before I knew I had cancer. For a few years now, I have been struggling on and off with a myriad of health concerns, though, at the time, I was quick to write them all off as symptoms of a less than stable mental state. I think when you struggle with mental illness, it just becomes automatic to think you just suck at everything. Lethargy, chronic fatigue, lack of concentration and focus, and just plain ol not feeling well, have been my day-to-day for a lot longer than I care to admit. For a while, I thought that I had developed some sort of Quarantine or Pandemic Panic disorder (it'll be a thing if it's not already), I just shut down. I can say it did, somewhat, smell like I was cooking up some crazy, but the aroma was just off a tad bit. You know what I mean?
After a couple of pretty hairy situations, I did decide to get myself into therapy. That's been about a year ago, now. I always seem to be truly blessed in the angels that get sent my way to help me through my troubles, and the women I worked with during my treatment were no exception. It was during this process that I realized, I wasn't really depressed. I have/had really crappy coping skills and tools, but I wasn't depressed. I still had so much joy in my heart for all the small things each and every day, I just didn't have the energy to keep up with it. It's a hard place to be when you know that you're not as broken as you thought, but you feel more broken than you were. I hope none of you can relate, truly.
There was still something not quite right, however. I was having all kinds of health issues. Tremors, pains, spasms, vertigo, and all without explanation. I did know that I had a lump, I had known for a while. It was one of those things, though, where you find all the other reasons before you consider the most likely. I'm an escapist, I do that a lot. To be fair, I HAD nursed a whole lot of babies a whole lot of milk over the years and knew there was a possibility that it was related to my ducts. Plus, it kind of hurt. I thought tumors didn't hurt. So, I decided to leave it be and hoped that maybe it would leave me be and we could coexist in mutual ignorance.
Then it started to pull.
Back in October, I noticed that when I moved my left arm in certain ways, I felt a tug underneath my breast that ran from behind my nipple to my armpit. Because of the neurological issues that I had been having, I initially believed it to be a nerve-related problem. I noticed that my left shoulder was often drawn up tight to the side of my body and was inches higher than the right in a resting state. My shoulder was nearly touching my ear. I tried massaging the muscles, looked for pressure points to relax the nerves, but nothing really made it any better. It was through this process, though, that I noticed my once small and easy to ignore lump was now several large and extremely noticeable lumps that were not going to allow me to pretend I hadn't discovered them.
I scheduled a mammogram. It was my very first mammogram.
I was not looking forward to it.
I went in somewhere around the beginning of October for my first mammo. It was not a pleasant experience. Mind you, not because mammograms are unpleasant, but because of the way that I was treated during that appointment. I didn't actually receive a scan that day. Despite the fact that I had repeatedly told them I had recently gotten my pneumonia vaccine, they scheduled me anyway. Guess what? Pneumonia vaccine messes with your lymph nodes, so they cancelled my diagnostic, after allowing me to change into a gown, was demeaned and roughly handled by the doctor in front of students. They sent me home.
On Novermeber 2, I returned to Olsen Women's Clinic for my mammogram. I had been scheduled for a diagnostic scan, because the situation I had described occurring in my breast called for it? I guess? But I was told immediately the doctor didn't see any reason for that. We would just do a scan and I'd be on my way. So, scan. scan. scan. scan. And then you wait for someone to look at the scan and say whatever they're going to say. That day what they said was ultrasound and emergency biopsy.
Two days later, my breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed via my OneChart.
I have invasive ductal carcinoma. We believe it's metastatic, though only time will tell for sure, because of how far into my axillary lymph nodes my cancer is.
I am currently in chemotherapy and the cancer seems to be responding to the treatment.