In January 2016 I called my doctor and explained that I felt a lump in my breast. They said it was normal for young women my age to have lumpy breasts and said I should wait until my menstrual cycle finished. If the lump was still there, then they would have me come in to see a doctor. After my period came and went, the lump was still there. Not only was it still there, it burned and moved around in my breast. The doctors -- and most information I found on the Internet -- claimed that tumors are hard, solid masses that do not move around, so it was probably nothing. My regular doctor was not in, but they said I could see another doctor. That doctor proceeded to feel my breasts, and said if she could put money on it, the lump was probably nothing and not to worry. When she saw that I was not convinced, she asked, “Would it make you feel better to get an ultrasound?” I said “Yessssss,” of course I would feel better if I had an ultrasound. She explained that protocol is to get a mammogram first, then an ultrasound, but since it was probably NOTHING, I should just refuse the mammogram and insist on getting the ultrasound. I did just that.
That was my first experience with Jefferson Radiology, where you can get CAT scans, MRIs and other types of imaging needs. Sure enough, the technicians at Jefferson Radiology did just like the doctor said and insisted on a mammogram first. I refused, and we proceeded to the ultrasound. And yet, the idea of breast cancer was far from my mind. The nurse who walked me to the changing room saw I was nervous, which isn’t unusual in that situation. She told me, “You have a strong energy, and you will be strong.” I didn’t understand that she was trying to comfort me because I might be facing a cancer diagnosis, so I shrugged it off. I went into the room, laid down on the table, the woman applied cold gel to my boob and started to check out my lump. And I heard the words again: “It looks like nothing suspicious, BUT protocol says they need to do a biopsy, but don’t worry it’s probably benign.”
My very good friend Bonnie volunteered to take me to the biopsy, which they said would not hurt. (It hurt, oh yes, it 100% hurt.) Three days passed and my fiancé and I were in the car on a sunny and unusually warm Wednesday in March. Someone from Jefferson Radiology was calling.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“I’m sorry to inform you your results say it is in fact breast cancer. You should find a good surgeon immediately and book a PET scan. Sorry to inform you, best of luck.”
I’m not joking. It was that blunt. I will never forget what he said, and how straightforward he was. I won’t ever forget sinking into the passenger seat and bursting into tears. The man from Jefferson might have said a few other things, but at that point I couldn’t hear or process anything else. Just BREAST CANCER. I looked to my left and Martin was crying. And that was the beginning of this journey.