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Melissa Ann Barr
8/1/2017 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. Jason and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated with what is going on with me. It's also a place that I look forward to being able to come read comments from all those who visit. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. It is an early stage breast cancer and is 100% curable. I will undergo a mastectomy (possibly bilateral) in the next few weeks. They will test a couple lymph nodes and the breast tissue to ensure they have removed all of the cancer. I have an amazing team of doctors who are checking and double checking, and moving very quickly to get me back to a 100% healthy & happy Melissa (aka mommy). I am nervous about the actual surgery & recovery, but I gotta be honest that I'm looking forward to having perkier friends out front ;) haha!
Here is my story:
On Friday June 30th 2017 I found a rather large lump on my left breast. At first I thought, no maybe it's just my imagination. I run downstairs and tell Jason, he looks at it and agrees it was definitely new. I was a little concerned, but I didn't think too much about it because it didn't hurt at all - and for something to get that big that quick (seriously felt like it came up over night) couldn't be anything serious. Boy, was I wrong.
The next few days I kept forgetting about the lump, then remembering, then checking it again to make sure I didn't dream about it - but it was still there. I started thinking of how long had it been since I actually "checked" my breast. Could this have been that big for months and I didn't notice? Possible. I do have three littles - my rowdy boys Brayden and Austin (7.5 & 5 years old) and our newest addition, Addi (8.5 months old) - they keep me busy and sometimes we (yes momma's I'm talking about you) forget to take care of ourselves. Like checking our breast monthly for any changes at all. You know your breast best so you will be the one who notices any changes. Ok, I'll stop preaching and get on with me story :) It was the longest weekend ever! I continued to check it and ended up pulling out the measuring tape and measuring it myself. It was 2.5 X 2 inches. I thought that was big so maybe my measurements were off (but later confirmed by radiologist that my measurements were right on!).
I did know I would have to get it checked out and I just so happened to have a post-op appointment with my gynecologist for an upcoming tubal litigation (that is now on hold until after treatment). My doctor felt the lump and she wasn't sure about it so sent me for a mammogram and ultra sound on Friday July 7th at 8:30am. It was going fine, or so I thought. When the tech said I should go get dressed because the radiologist would like to speak to us in his office I knew it wasn't good. My stomach sunk, my breathing increased. I did everything possible to avoid eye contact with Jason - I knew if I looked at him I would start crying and would see the worry he must have had, and I had to hold it together so I could listen to what the radiologist was going to say. We walked in his office and never even sat down. He had my mammogram images up on big monitors and he started talking to us about the white specks all over the top of my breast. They look like bright stars and there were a lot of them all grouped together. He was very kind and while he didn't want to diagnose me without other testing, I insisted on him being completely honest with and tell me if he thinks this is cancer. He said "I would bet it is, but lets hope it isn't". After that, the rest of that day was incredibly long and exhausting. We then went to Riverside Hospital - The Bing and met the oncology breast surgeon. She did her exam and said that they wanted to do a follow up mammogram and ultra sound to see if they could get better pictures. I was scheduled for two breast biopsies on Monday, but said they could get me in now. Of course I said definitely, but I was a nervous wreck. I had never had one before, and I like to prepare myself for things like this - but that's just it - no one is prepared for hearing the C word. The procedure lasted about 1.5 hours and is something I'm fine with never doing again. It was uncomfortable and awkward. I was laying on top of a table with a hole in it, where your boob is placed, then "tied down" so it stays in place. The thought of a big needle going into your breast and pulling out pieces of your flesh, completely freaked me out. haha... but I got through it. We finally got back home around 3pm that Friday. My eyes were bloodshot from exhaustion. But my head was spinning with all the info we received. I keep thinking there is no way I have cancer, I'm sure it will come back negative. That weekend was actually the LONGEST weekend EVER!
Finally, Monday came and I finally received the results that I do indeed have breast cancer. The good news is that it is DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3. Stage 0 meaning that it is thought to be only in the milk ducts and has not spread to other tissue. Grade 3 - meaning that the cells are progressing quickly, so it's a fast growing mass. My breast surgeon said I would require a mastectomy since the mass is measuring between 8-9 cm. We will discuss further treatment options after my surgery when we get the pathology report back. If my nodes are clear and there is no evidence of spreading outside the ducts then the mastectomy is all that I will need. From what I understand (and have experienced thus far) the waiting is the hardest part. I have almost made myself go crazy with wondering and the not knowing.
We did sit both of our boys down separately to tell them what was going on. Brayden is older and he knew what cancer was already - he asked many really great questions and we answered them honestly without trying to scare them. Austin was concerned that I was sick but happy that the doctors were going to make me better soon. We encouraged them to ask us anything they wanted, anytime, whether they were mad, sad, or happy. They seem like they are doing OK so far and I pray they continue to do so.
I have decided to go public and share my diagnosis, treatment and recovery in hopes that other young people become aware of the signs and importance of checking their breast. Breast cancer has no age limit and catching it early is the way you want it to go (if you're going to get it).
Jason and/or I will be putting updates on here whenever we have them. We have decided that we will be staying very positive through this unexpected journey. Looking at this like there is no other way to deal with it other than praying often, beating the ever living sh** out of it (obviously!) and continuing on with our normal and crazy busy life. We hope everyone else joins us.
Thank you so much for visiting. We really appreciate the support and words of hope and encouragement.