[I have some catching up to do, so these posts might not be in the correct order with more recent posts. My apologies. I know nothing about blogging and am winging it. I also want to mention I decided to do this after reading Ann Silberman's blog www.butdoctorihatepink.com. Thank you, Ann, for sharing your story. It has been very enlightening, and I truly admire your grace and humor that you so eloquently provide in your blog. You are truly amazing.]
It's only been 10 days and I'm already having trouble with the details of what happened when I found out what was going on... but let me back up just a bit to cover the last ten days as best as I can.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
My son ended up coming home from school early that day, as they thought he might be getting the flu. My mom - who I refer to often as "madre" - normally meets my son's bus after school and takes him to speech therapy while I am at work. Knowing she wouldn't need to pick him up that day, I called her to tell her she had the afternoon off. She said she was going to a quick doctor's appointment that should only take 15 or 20 minutes, and did I want her to come to my house to take care of the kiddo so I could go back to work? Nahhhh. If he had the flu, I didn't want her to get it.
So, I end up calling her later to chit chat, as we do pretty much every day. In the middle of me talking about work or something, she just starts crying and says she needs to go. ?!?!?! what the hell just happened? I asked if everything was okay with her and dad - she said they were fine. She said she didn't want to talk about it. Ohhhhkay...so I use the tried and true method that SHE uses on me when I say that, and started asking questions. I immediately throw out an inside joke between us - unfortunately referencing cancer (we have a sick sense of humor, she and I) and she started laughing, so I thought, okay, she's just having a rough day. Then she said that she might have some bad news, but she wasn't sure yet. Awwww shitttttt.
The quick doctor's appointment she was on her way to earlier? Was a mammogram. Apparently her second mammogram, as her original one on October 30 showed something suspicious. Oh, and she had requested the original mammogram after finding a lump. I found all this out from my dad later - she forgot to mention it. Totally understandable given the situation.
So, on November 5, 2013 she had her second mammogram. She received the results of that, which showed an irregular mass that needed to be further investigated. A biopsy was scheduled for November 7th. I had a bad feeling about this.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Mom said the biopsy was bearable. They numbed up the area to take the biopsy from, and after that she said she felt pressure. To give you an idea, she imagined a small crochet hook being shoved in her boob. After taking three samples, they went in a fourth time and put in a metal clip to mark the area for "when they went back in." Not "if." But "when." The doctor said that the test results typically take 48 hours to receive, but they would try to expedite things so that madre wouldn't be left hanging over the weekend. At some point, my dad received a call from someone saying that an appointment was being scheduled for my mom with her regular doctor for Monday the 11th at 10:00 a.m. to get her results. Bad feeling getting worse...but dont panic until there's something to panic about, right?
Monday, November 11, 2013
Mom's getting ready to go meet with her doctor, and about 9:30 my dad calls me at work. Tells me it's breast cancer. She has appointments with a surgeon, a coordinator and an oncologist - that day. At the same time I'm talking to my dad, I get an email from mom. She led the email with "Remember in Sex and the City when Burger broke up with Carrie on a post-it note? And when Samantha told the girls she had breast cancer at Miranda's wedding?" and ended it with "...everything's going to be fine, so stay at work." She was too upset to call me herself, so she emailed - knowing I'd more than likely be sitting at my computer at work. She went to her appointment with her family doctor and got the dirty details. I talked to her at some point that night - we cried, and she told me what she knew despite being in shock. My mom is a ROCK...and for her to be crying, I knew she was scared. Which made me scared.
Okay, this is where things get really confusing to me (not to worry - I get them straightened out very soon). I believe mom told me this was the information she had received from her doctor: Stage I, non-invasive - so this was supposedly contained in a gland. Easy peasy. They aren't going to waste any time - the plan is surgery this week, a lil radiation while having surgery, then radiation for three weeks. And that should do it.
The surgeon said he wouldn't hesitate to do surgery on my mom the next day, she's in such good health.
The coordinator I didn't get alot of info about, but from what happened this morning with the hospital calling with results before mom's appointment with her doctor - who was supposed to give her those results - I hope she does a better job from here on out.
The oncologist turned things on their head. She wants to do 6 weeks of CHEMO, about 4 weeks to recover, then surgery to remove the tumor. That changes surgery from this WEEK to in three MONTHS. And chemo. Holy crap. That's a pretty big difference from what was being said this morning. What the hell?
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I end up waking up the next morning, and knew I was just going to spend the whole day crying at work and didn't think I could stomach it. Who the hell wants to be an emotional mess at work? Not moi. Annnnd...I get thinking that maybe mom should get a second opinion...just to see if a second oncologist would suggest the same course of treatment. So I call into work, take the kid to school, put on my best brave face and concentrated hard on not crying as I was feeling this all start sinking in. I drove to the office of an oncologist who is well known in our area for treating cancer, and who treated a girlfriend of mine a while back. Sadly, my friend was diagnosed at Stage IV and passed away 14 months after being diagnosed. 31 years old, three small children, a loving husband and family - and just one of the best people you could ever have the pleasure to know. She always spoke highly of him, so I guess I trusted her judgment in suggesting him to my mom. Anyway, I stop in and speak to Terri at the front desk - she tells me he will see her within a couple of days. Have her call and make an appointment, request a copy of her records from the other doctors faxed over, and they would get her in.
I won't get into all the details of the visit, but it started off shaky - emotional. Just for a few minutes. Talked to my dad first. I think I've only ever seen that man be teary eyed and/or cry once in my life. I'm pretty sure it was at his father's funeral. Today I saw it for the second time. That's unsettling. But, I instantly remind myself this is happening to him too. After 42 years together, how could it NOT be happening to him too. I talk to mom second, and a little more emotional again. Then I ask her to tell me what exactly she was told. And we look at her paperwork/pathology reports. This is where the previously thought Stage I, surgery this week and a little radiation plan gets thrown out the window. Her cancer is INVASIVE and also HER2+, which I understand to mean that proteins within my mom's body are telling the cancer cells to grow, which equals an aggressive cancer and can be treated with hormones. However, I'm reading now that the aggressive part is correct, and that hormone therapy is not as effective on this type of cancer. I'm confused. Another question to ask the doctor so I know what this means in my mom's case, exactly.
I ask mom about getting a second opinion, we talk about it then talk to my dad and decide to give it a shot. Mom called her insurance company, her family doctor, then the second oncologist and made an appointment. She called at 10:30, I think, and her appointment was at 2. Now, THAT'S pretty amazing. I like this doctor already.
I had to pick my son up from school, so I wasn't able to go with mom and dad, and they didn't ask me to, so I wasn't going to invite myself. If they want me or need me there, they'll ask. Right? I sure hope so.
The appointment went well - this doctor is of Indian descent, so was a bit hard for my mom and dad to understand at times. If you know my parents, it's a running joke about the hearing difficulties of those two, which I have to admit, is also starting to happen to me. I always tell my dad "I know to just say everything at LEAST twice, because you're going to look at me, turn your head, raise and eyebrow and "Huh?" me." This doctor, second opinion, talked to my parents for a couple of HOURS. I'm amazed at his kindness. He wants to do chemo for 5 MONTHS, to make sure mom isn't back in seeing him in five years, to do it all over again. He thinks that will kill off any outlying cells, and shrink the tumor enough to remove and then leave mom healthy to get on with the rest of her life. More information overload. Ugghhh.
However, when talking to mom later in the evening, she told me I was going to think she was crazy - but she couldn't feel the lump since leaving the oncologist's office. She even had my dad try while we were on the phone, and he couldn't feel it (and it didn't gross me out that my dad was feeling my mom up while I was on the phone with her!). Maybe it's a sign that this oncologist is a true healer? I told her to count it as a win for today - it's probably still there, but not being able to feel it? I say that's a win. Even if just for today.
Mom has an MRI scheduled for Friday, November 15th. I think this was requested by the surgeon to get a better idea of the size of the tumor (currently guessed at between 1.6 and 1.8 cm), as the size can vary in the different images I guess. Mom and dad will meet with the surgeon on Monday, November 18th to go over the MRI, and then meets again with the second oncologist on Friday the 22nd to, I believe, discuss when chemo would start.