I Have Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Updated on November 21, 2019
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

Source

I'm Still in a State of Disbelief

In the fall of 2019, I was told by a radiologist over the phone that I have low-grade invasive ductal carcinoma. What does that mean exactly? It means I have breast cancer in my milk ducts on my left breast. I had gone for a follow-up mammogram, but many female friends told me that they had also had follow-up mammograms, and it was nothing. So I wasn't too worried.

But after that, I was told they needed to do a biopsy on a dark area on my left breast. The radiologist said there was a 50/50 chance it was cancer. The other possibility was that it was scar tissue from a past infection. Since I had nursed three children, and often had had the beginning stages of mastitis, I was pretty sure that's what it was and tried not to worry. But as promised, three days after the biopsy, I received a phone call with the results of the biopsy. The results were that I have breast cancer.

That was ten days ago. It's still hard for me to accept. During those ten days my emotions have been up and down and I feel like I am just treading water until we see the surgeon. On my down days, I spend too much time on the internet. I joined a Facebook Breast Cancer Support Group because they don't have any breast cancer support groups I can go to nearby. The trouble is, there are some horror stories out there and I have read some and it scares me. On the nights I have read the posts before bed, I have trouble falling asleep. Although I try not to think about it, many different thoughts about breast cancer pop into my head. I learned throughout the week to stay off Facebook at night. On my up days, I laugh a lot, make boob jokes, and spend time with my husband and as many dogs as I can find to pet since we don't currently own a dog.

Apparently, everyone's breast cancer is different. And therefore, each recommended treatment is suggested based on their cancer. I don't even know how to explain the differences, other than some breast cancers are genetic-based and some are hormone-based. I don't know what mine is, but there should be more information based on that pathology report which the surgeon will have at my appointment.

I have 52 questions to ask the surgeon.

Appointment with the Breast Cancer Surgeon

I went to the breast cancer surgeon and at the end of the consult, I was more confused than ever. My cancer is a low grade, slow-growing invasive ductal carcinoma. The size is 5 millimeters, which is approximately 1/2 a centimeter. That's pretty small to be causing this much trouble, but I am grateful and feel blessed that they caught it so early.

My surgeon is recommending a lumpectomy with radiation, and medication to lower my estrogen levels for 5 years afterward. I asked about a mastectomy and she said that is very aggressive since my cancer is so small. But a lumpectomy would include radiation and I am afraid of radiation and how it might affect my heart if they miss. I have researched it and read that radiation could also cause heart issues in the future. It also can cause the breast to have issues like being hard, lumpy, misshapen, or have a red or brown tinge to it. And often the skin of the radiated breast loses all sensitivity.

Plus it feels like radiation is poison to my body. I told her that and she said that while it IS poison to my body, it does kill cancer cells. I imagine myself lying on the radiation table for every session with a tear running down my cheek from the corner of my eye into my hair...you know that type of tear...because I will be allowing them to shoot poison into my body.

A mastectomy would remove the breast, but would most likely avoid the need for radiation or chemo. I am not necessarily that attached to my breasts at the age of 59. They have served their purpose which to me was always to nurse my three babies. My "three babies" are now all in their twenties and so my breasts have done their main job!

One of the things I am anxious about with a mastectomy is that it is more of a major surgery, could possibly cause an infection, and would need drains for anywhere from one to three weeks. Drains that I would have to empty myself. Sorry if that's a little too gruesome for you. It is gruesome to me too. But I would rather empty drains than die of breast cancer!

And remember those 52 questions I wanted to ask the surgeon? She answered a lot of them during the session, but I was so confused by her push to get me to agree to a lumpectomy and not a mastectomy, that I forgot to ask some of them. I brought my husband with me because it's important to have an extra person with you at the doctor's appointments to listen for anything you might have missed. Between the two of us, we gained a lot of information, but when you are talking about something as serious as cancer, it's easy to get overwhelmed and forget some of what was said, or as in my case, forget to write down what was said.

My nurse navigator told me to make a list of pros and cons of each procedure, and that will help me to decide. So I will, and am going to ask my husband Chuck to as well in case he can think of anything that I forgot.

My husband Chuck and I having breakfast together before the breast cancer diagnosis.
My husband Chuck and I having breakfast together before the breast cancer diagnosis. | Source

Breast Cancer Is Like a Roller Coaster Ride

Being told that you have breast cancer begins a roller coaster ride of emotions and making decisions that could mean life or death. I was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks ago today. Since then, I have had good days and I have had bad days. On the good days, I am surprised that I have happy moments and even laugh. On the bad days, I have moments of despair, confusion about what the plan should be, and feelings of numbness.

It seems everyone is wanting to help and tell me their story or refer me to a friend who has gone through the breast cancer experience. That is helpful, but the odd thing is that I don't want to actually talk on the phone about the experience or what I am feeling. I don't mind writing about it through texts, emails, or Facebook Instant Messages, but I can't talk on the phone. They say breast cancer is different for every woman, and that's definitely true. I love to write, and so it's easier for me to write than talk. But another woman might feel better talking about it rather than writing. I seem to be able to talk to strangers about my breast cancer easier than people that know me and love me. I know it will make me cry, and I have already shed a lot of tears since I was diagnosed. I just don't want to hear pity in people's voices. It will push me over an emotional edge.

I think that once I do decide what I want to do, I will feel a lot better. Having a plan that I get to decide on will help me feel more in control.

More to come as I go through this breast cancer journey. Stay tuned...

Genetic Counseling Appointment

Although my breast cancer surgeon was on the fence about whether or not I should get genetic testing, I decided to do it anyway. It will give me more information about what type of surgery I should have, and whether or not my children have to be seen for mammograms earlier than normal.

The genetic counselor sat across a table from me and asked questions about family members that had cancer. She drew out a really interesting diagram. I had the choice of just doing the test for carrying the breast cancer gene, or a whole gamut of tests which will tell me if I carry a gene fr any other family cancers.

I spent about one hour with the genetic counselor at the end of which I had to spit into a test tube. It's the same thing you need to do if you have ever had the DNA testing done for Ancestry.com. BUT when you do genetic testing along with a counselor, you have to spit into the test tube in front of them. That was a bit awkward but we joked about it.

The doctor had put a rush on the test because the results will help me decide what type of surgery I will have. So now it's a waiting game; the test results should be back soon.

Stay tuned for more as I update new chapters in my journey.

Do you now or have you ever had breast cancer?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Karen Hellier

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm sorry that you're experiencing this situation, but I'm glad that the problem was discovered while the disease is in an early stage. That should be very helpful. Best wishes to you.

    • YouGet1Shot profile image

      Chris Desatoff 

      2 weeks ago from USA

      What a tough situation to have to deal with. Good think you've got Chuck there my your side! We're all pulling for you!

      I think it's great that you're taking the initiative to get as much information as possible about your unique situation and about all of your options. So many people just say, "Whatever you think, Doc," and never really take the time to make informed choices until later on in life. And by then, they often regret some of the rushed choices they made.

      Looking forward to next update.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Best wishes and prayers heading your way,my friend. Try to stay positive, although I know how meaningless that word of advice is.

    • Carola Finch profile image

      Carola Finch 

      2 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      I can relate to your story. I have been a breast cancer survivor since 2011. I know how scary all the unknowns are. I had a mastectomy on my right side and breast reconstruction. I also went through chemo, radiation, and hormone replacement therapy. I know these things are scary but you can survive it. My cancer never came back. Hang in there!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      2 weeks ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much for your kind comments. Yes, it is a step by step journey. One that no one wishes they would have to take.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 weeks ago from UK

      So sorry to hear of your diagnosis. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have friends who have been through similar experiences and have been clear for a while now, so be encouraged.

      I hope that you can decide on a treatment plan soon. The initial shock is very hard. Suddenly life is blown off track and the big C word looms large. On the positive side, it's good that it has been found so early and radiotherapy seems to have fewer side effects than other treatments. I guess it's like any treatment/medicine. If we stop and read the list of side effects they could put us off. I pray that you will find all the help and support you need to get over this 'hurdle' and your treatment will be effective and easier than you fear, so that you can look forward to a healthy future. You will get over this. Some friends have said they just had to take their journey one step at a time.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 weeks ago from USA

      I am sorry to hear this and hope that you find an in person support group, perhaps through your local hospital, surgeon, or American Cancer Society? When I was diagnosed with MS many years ago a doctor recommended that I stay out of the chat rooms for MS because they were filled with war stories and every patient’s case is different. I agree and think it has relevance to other medical situations. I wish you strength and healing.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, patientslounge.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://patientslounge.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)