Wednesday, May 21, 2014

i whistle a happy tune, and every single time, the happiness in the tune, convinces me that i'm not afraid...

Hello friends. First a little business. I've heard from several of you that you tried, but were unable to comment on my blog posts. I think I have fixed that, so feel free to comment away! Let me know if you're still having problems.

We're still in limbo as far as starting treatment goes. Tomorrow is going to be a pretty big day for me in determining what we are up against, and we probably won't have any results til after the holiday weekend. Please pray and think lots of happy thoughts that no more abnormalities will be found. I am trying so so hard to be brave, but it is not easy. I love all of you, and all of your songs. I'm up to 302 now, but I am greedy, so keep sending them!

So while we are waiting, let's move onto part two in the continuing saga of how we got to where we are today. Last time we talked, I had just gotten my first ever mammogram and been told once again that it was "probably nothing". I had always heard how bad mammograms were (they squish your boobs between huge plates and take xrays of them). I'll admit - it sounds terrible, but it really wasn't that big of a deal for me. Maybe I had built it up in my head? Or maybe small boobs don't feel pain like larger ones? I'm not even joking when I say the worst part was not being allowed to wear deodorant. Awful. For everyone involved.

Bonus! Tiny squishy baby pic, and one of my happiest ever moments.

So I didn't actually get to see my films in this appointment. The radiologist sent me on my way rather quickly. I was convinced there was nothing wrong with me and I could breathe a sigh of relief. There was some paperwork they handed me with a notice about "Henda's Law." I scanned over it briefly, but again, wasn't super concerned. It said something about how if you have dense breast tissue then they have to inform you. I considered myself informed.

As I mentioned last time, Dr. M made me an appointment with Dr. D (the surgeon) to get the lump biopsied. I saw Dr. D for the first time on April 18th. I first had to pick up my films from some random building I had never been in before on the Baylor campus. The suite I went to to pick them up was called the Darlene G. Cass Women's Imaging Center. Everything was purple. And shiny. And sparkly. The room was dimly lit and filled with (older) women. They handed me the films, and I pulled them out real quick to look at the source of all of these unnecessary doctor's appointments. I couldn't see it, but I chalked it up to the dim lighting, and my untrained eyes.

I walked the 5 minutes to Dr. D's office, in another building I had never been to. Apparently the decision to walk instead of drive was surprising to the staff. Take control of your health, people! This building had a scary name. Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. I gave the receptionist the films, and waited for my turn. When I was called in to the exam room, she had them on display in the light box. I still couldn't see anything from my vantage point at the door. I walked over and looked closely. Right up next to the thing. I couldn't see ANYTHING. The mammogram technician had me place a little sticker with a metal dot directly over the lump before taking the pictures. I could see the dot perfectly... but no lump. What? I looked at the paperwork again informing me about Henda's Law.

Henda Salmeron is a lady from Dallas who had been having regular mammograms for years with no signs of anything wrong. At age 42, she decided she needed to lose a little weight, which lead to her finding a lump that the mammograms had missed. She found out later that it was cancer, and that the doctors hadn't told her that her breast tissue was too dense to be able to see lumps in a mammogram. More about Henda's story here: Henda's Law

Below is a comparison of a "normal" breast on the left and a "dense" breast on the right. Disclaimer: Neither of these belong to me, so sorry you have (probably) not seen my boobs.

Like trying to find a snowball in a blizzard.

After a few minutes of educating myself about Henda, and contemplating how unceremoniously I had been "informed" of my tissue situation (probably not what Henda had intended...), Dr. D arrived in the exam room to check me out. I was fully prepared for something called a "core needle biopsy" right then and there. Basically they stick a huge needle in you, and then examine the tissue in a lab to make sure everything is kosher. Once again, Dr. D thought it was "probably nothing."  We decided together that since it was kind of annoying and all signs pointed to benign fibroadenoma, that we might as well just move forward with taking it out, and then we would biopsy it afterwards just to be sure. Two birds with one stone, or something like that.

I had never had surgery before, unless you count wisdom teeth (which I don't) so it was a little exciting. They give you colorful fuzzy/grippy socks! You get to come home and lay on your couch and watch netflix! (Actually I went for Drunk History on Amazon Prime. Edutainment at it's finest.) After going back and forth with estimates for insurance, we scheduled the surgery for April 30.

The big day came, and I was ready. And hungry. No food or drink after midnight! They had me change into a gown and hooked me up to an IV. The nurse tried to start it in my hand, and failed. Try number two was a bit more successful, but the damage was done. Huge bruise on the hand! We waited in a little cubicle meant to give us some privacy, and ended up giggling at all the elderly people we were surrounded by who were having cataract surgery. Apparently they didn't get that just because they couldn't see anyone, didn't mean that they couldn't be heard loudly and clearly. They were cute.

The procedure went fine, and Dr. D even said the lump "looked" fine, but I would have the results of the biopsy in 2-3 days. You don't have to tell me 4 times, people! I rested comfortably for the rest of the afternoon without a single thought about it.

The next day, I was working from home as I was not allowed to shower, and was required to wear a sports bra. Plus, I really wanted to wear sweat pants. I got a call from Dr. D, and thought, "Oh how nice, she's calling to check on how I'm feeling."

That was the phone call that changed my life forever. It was cancer, and I had to make a choice. Drown in my sorrows or rise to the challenge. I had a few days where I couldn't think about anything happy. Couldn't see the possibility of surviving, much less thriving. Now I can clearly see how precious life is, and how "worth it" the fight is. I am an AUNT for goodness sake. Cancer doesn't understand how important I am. Don't worry y'all, I'll show them.

Blake is on team Jess!
Please pray, friends. Send me the vibes.

Love, Jess

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