Marie Tilly-Wynn

First post: Feb 26, 2021 Latest post: Aug 26, 2021
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I’m a nurse and now the tables have turned. I’m now the patient. Not exactly how I pictured this year starting out. Last June, I saw my family doctor. He mentioned getting my first mammogram. I remember telling him “I breast fed for three years, I’m not at all concerned about cancer “. Boy I’ve never been so wrong.

Fast forward to December living in Baltimore and working in DC as a travel nurse I bent over and my breast felt like a heavy brick. I felt underneath and there it was, larger than a golf ball. Not having a doctor close by I had to wait until February to get in to see one.

I saw the nurse practitioner, Ashly who of course examined me and said it was the largest lump she’d felt. Scheduled a diagnostic mammogram with ultrasound. Had that and the radiologist brought me into the room to show me my results. This huge spiky irregular ugly thing growing inside me. I was alone, thanks to Covid and didn’t really process when she told me it was highly suspicious for malignancy. I was scheduled for a core biopsy via ultrasound for the next week.

I met Dr Baker for the biopsy and she is phenomenal! I had to lay on the table, on my hip for an hr and a half with my arm above my head, while she did her thing. I had three core biopsies done to the breast and two fine needle aspirates to the right armpit. The wait for results was a week. She did tell me that day that she wasn’t going to lie to me and it was for sure malignant. She used a term bi rad 5 which I had to ask her to explain. Basically said you have cancer without the confirmation of a biopsy.

One long but short week later I get the call while I’m driving to the airport coming back from Chicago and visit with my family. She said it is an invasive ductal carcinoma.... but my lymph node was reactive but not showing obvious malignancy. She got me in touch with Megan who is the nurse navigator who scheduled my surgeons appointment.

Met Dr Tsangaris, the surgeon, the next afternoon, along with Megan. “We are still waiting on the molecular testing but if it’s triple negative breast cancer, I won’t do surgery until at least chemo has started”. I was leaning in the direction at this point to do chemo first since all the literature supports it. I then had to miss work to see the oncologist the next day.

Dr Patel, my oncologist is super optimistic and I am very much a realist. Her nurse, Lisa is actually the one to inform me it was in fact, triple negative breast cancer, which means not great things. It’s ugly. It’s an angry cancer that spreads rapidly. I was informed the ER job I currently have isn’t a good idea while chemo is in place. Crushing? I’m under boulders. I can’t work the next two weeks because I have about 13 appointments scheduled plus my head isn’t going to be dedicated to patient care right now. It’s not fair to them either.

So as of now I’m waiting for the labs to be resulted I had drawn yesterday, have the CT, have the MRI, have the genetic testing, see the cardiologist, have the echocardiogram, see the other surgeon for the port, have the port placed and the nurse navigator appointment to line up all my chemotherapy treatments. I’ll be doing every other week for 16 weeks, a four drug regimen, two to start and platinum therapy for the second half. I see the surgeon half way for ultrasound or another MRI.

I’m trying so hard to be positive but this is some ugly spiky rock being thrown at me. My husband was at first in denial, wanted it to be some weird thing that we could just remove and be done. He’s amazing but not able to fully grasp this is happening to both of us. Maybe now he is I suppose.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be updating next week with all the fun appointments I’ve got!