The Diagnosis

A version of the following was posted to my brand new caringbridge page in entries between March 14 and 28, 2015.  
As I post it here, I am making a few changes.

It started on May 22, 2014, with a routine mammogram.  They saw two areas they were concerned about (but they're probably nothing), so come back for another mammogram and an ultrasound.  Just calcifications, probably nothing to worry about, come back in six months to see if it's changed.  Back on January 9, 2015.  Time for a biopsy of these two spots.

The doctor who sent me for the original mammogram and is receiving reports from radiologists then referred me to Dr. Tsiapali, Director of the Breast Health Program at Southern Maryland Hospital.  I had an appointment on February 17th, but the office closed (along with everything else!) because of snow.  New appointment on February 24th. 

Dr. Tsiapali noticed a third spot in the lymph nodes under my arm, which turned out to be rather large.  She arranged for an appointment with the radiologist on the first floor of her building the next day, and I ended up having the three areas biopsied.  Thank goodness the day after the biopsy was a snow day -- I slept all day!

March 5th was the follow-up appointment with the results.  It was snowing!  Those of you who know me know how much I dislike trying to drive in the snow.  Thank God Jimmy went with me, and thank God the office was open.  As we arrived, the snow plows were working on clearing the parking lots, which were mostly empty.  We first met with the nurse practitioner, who gave us the bad news.   She could not tell us the stage because they have not yet gotten the receptors back.  The wonderful nurse navigator gave us a ton of reading material, and a blanket from a group called Shades of Pink, who donate handmade blankets to cancer patients.  I was told that there would be chemo, radiation, and surgery in my future.  Wow.  The nurse navigator also set me up with my next appointments -- Bone Scan, CT Scan, and genetic counseling.  Needless to say, the ride home in the snow was nerve-wracking!  We told the boys, the rest of the family, then I posted on facebook.  Why would I choose to put all this out there?  That's a whole other post!  ;)

So, for the next week, I was a nervous wreck!  I didn't know what stage cancer it was, so of course my imagination was running wild.  On March 10, my doctor called and talked to me.  At this point, it's early stage III, completely treatable/curable.  

Pending the results of the lung biopsy, of course.  Lung biopsy?  Oh yes.  The CT scan I had on March 13 showed 7 nodules in my left lung.  They needed to be biopsied.  So they were.  Here's a link to the caringbridge journal entry talking about the consultation with the Interventional Radiologist: 03/19/15 What a roller coaster ride this is!  

The results were that the lung nodules were cancerous.  What did this mean for me?  This changed the diagnosis from Early Stage III to Stage IV.  The Internventional Radiologist did say that he expected chemo to shrink these nodules into nonexistence.  As I write this post on December 30, 2015, after seven rounds of chemo, I can tell you that it did.  :)


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