Waiting on like positive biopsy results; need to vent my self-loathing.

Another long story. Hunker down if you’ve got the stamina to go through this. Also, TMI, so warning for that.

Hi everyone. Earlier this year I had a uterine cancer scare that fortunately turned out to be hyperplasia (overgrowth of cells due to too much unopposed estrogen). Started taking oral progesterone, then got an IUD, and it’s now cleared up.

Now I get to go through it all again, this time for breast cancer. I’m a 51- (almost 52-) year-old woman, overweight, never pregnant. Last year, my older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. (She had sort of a mixture of different types–Lobular and Ductal, spread to one sentinel node out of 5 lymph nodes examined; post-lumpectomy and radiation, then hormone treatment, a year later she’s doing well.) No other breast cancer history in family.

Back in November I had my screening mamm. (and a diagnostic to follow, which turned out to be nothing, but that was pretty scary–and right after that, I went through the whole uterine cancer thing).

TMI alert.

Then about ten days ago, I noticed a large, hard lump in my right breast. (Felt like a smallish walnut–hard to judge because there are so many ducts in the area.) And a closer look revealed a flattening nipple. Sadly, I have no idea how long these things had been there: I don’t check my breasts (stupid, irresponsible dumbass!) and at the moment no one else is likely to have felt them either.

I had already decided to call my gyno ASAP, but the next morning before I did, I also saw a white/cream-colored drop of discharge after I pressed on the nipple. OMG, that totally freaked me out. Without kids, I have never seen anything come out of there!

Got my gyno appt. a week later, which was obligatory since though I knew this lump was surely suspicious and would certainly need a mamm/ultrasound. Sure enough, my doc felt me up, said “yup, that’s a lump all right, though it feels encapsulated…” and sent me for a mamm and ultrasound, which I got two days later. All the radiologist told me was “There is something there that wasn’t at your last mammogram, so we’d like to get a biopsy.” Something there that wasn’t before? Like, duh? It’s a massive lump inside me, I could’ve told her that!

I had the core needle biopsy Friday (8/3) during which they took about four or five samples. When they did the ultrasound I happened to turn and look at the screen, and unfortunately I saw that on the Doppler, um, screen, there looked to be a lot of different colors, which as far as I’ve seen indicates vascularity which in turn indicates malignancy.

Biopsy was easy. Doc told me they’d probably have the tests back by Wednesday and would call me (8/8). I asked her if the lump was solid, and she said that she did get some fluid, but it seemed “thick” whatever that means. Once again, like the brainless person I am, I didn’t ask other questions.

So here I am, waiting and certain I’m going to get a very bad result. I have everything against me (my fault, mostly):

  • Overweight. Most large breasts present with larger, later-stage lumps.

  • Diabetes Type II. Also big risk.

  • Interval lump. Apparently most lumps found inter-screening are aggressive cancers.

  • Hard lump, inverted nipple, discharge: Sounds solid and bad. Supposedly white/milky (and non-spontaneous) discharge is less indicative of cancer than bloody/clear (weirdly, I haven’t had any discharge since that one time, no matter how much I prod). But still. I should not be lactating at my age, without any kids!

  • Doppler colors: indicative of vascularity, and thus, cancer.

So I’m terrified. I’m also SO ANGRY WITH MYSELF because

a) I was getting healthier last year, lost a lot of weight, lowered my AIC, but then due to the uterine cancer scare I went off my diet and comfort-binged myself back to ten pounds less than my original weight. Brilliant: I probably fed the tumor with all the nice fat-stored estrogen it wanted.

b) WHY DIDN’T I ASK MORE QUESTIONS OF THE RADIOLOGIST? I’m infuriated that for some reason I just couldn’t think of what to ask. I should’ve brought my sister (the one who had BC last year) in with me. I hate that I’m such a paralyzed moron.

I suppose it doesn’t really make a difference since it’s so incredibly likely that this is cancer, but this is my health here and I just asked the most banal questions. The docs weren’t offering any info, and it’s my place to be proactive. I don’t even know my BI-RADS level, although it’s besides-the-point now. As I understand it, if it weren’t a 4 or 5, they wouldn’t have sent me in for a biopsy.

That’s all. Just wanted to vent because I’m just going crazy with fear and self-recriminations.

Oh… I guess I should also ask: Does anyone who’s been through this have a suggestion for a list of questions I should ask my doctor when she calls with my cancer diagnosis? I’m gonna need a script because clearly I am going to be an even bigger basket case than I already have been.

Whew. Thank you for reading (anyone who made it down this far!). Sorry to ramble, it’s what I do when I’m scared and confused.

As somebody who was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer last fall, all I have to say is many hugs to you, and DO NOT PLAY DR. GOOGLE. All it will do is scare you.

And keep us posted.

No advice, just best wishes.

No advice on questions to ask, but get a notebook and make a written list of questions as they occur to you.

Best wishes

Feel ya, girl. My whole family (maternal side) is BC prone. I personally have never had a bad mam. but my sisters all have. Good luck, don’t scare yourself til you have to. Many treatments are available now.

You are beating yourself up mentally over this, but you’re forgetting something: Beating yourself up mentally is a harmful factor in itself. Stop it. Yes, I know it’s difficult. Yes, I know it’s part of your personality to do this. It doesn’t matter - stop it right now. Be kind to yourself - not necessarily indulgent, I mean truly kind - starting exactly now, and never stopping. You’re going to need that, whether there’s cancer or not.

Are you a doctor? If not, stop considering your test results. If you’re not a doctor, your analysis is worthless. Not “maybe mistaken”, not “with a grain of salt”, but worthless judgments. Stop. Permanently. Be kind to yourself, and let the doctor be the doctor. Permanently.

Please stop beating yourself up for being human. That’s a foolish diversion from what you should be focussed on, your strengths and your fight for whatever lies ahead.

We’re all just grievously flawed human beings, and you’re just one of us. NEVER beat yourself up for having human failings.

That’s just cleverly disguised YOU sabotaging YOU! It’s a trap! Please don’t fall into it!

Wishing you great Good Luck!

Sorry all this is happening to you, choie.

I had a coworker who was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. When she told me about her diagnosis, I started crying. I’m not the kind of person who cries easily. I just knew she was going to be goners.

But despite it being stage 4, she’s doing quite well. She’s still working full-time and chasing after her teenaged daughters. Modern medical science really is amazing.

And check this. My coworker got cancer even though she’d done everything right. She’s lean, physically fit, and conscientious about getting mammograms and stuff. And it still snuck up on her. So don’t waste energy playing the “woulda,coulda,shoulda” game.

Colors could mean a lot of things. You don’t know what you were looking at. It could mean heat, which could mean an infection.

Sorry. That probably just muddies the waters, but [TMI!] when I was, in fact, lactating, I got an infection, and had a hardened duct, and the whole breast was warm on one side. I’m sure it would have lit up like the festival of Diwali under a certain kind of sensor.

Granted, I don’t know why you would have an infection, but here’s a wild story: I once panicked that I had the kind of breast cancer that manifests like odd-textured skin on the breast, and it turned out to be a spider bite. Another time, I had a lump under my armpit from a swollen lymph gland that I was sure was caused by breast cancer, and it turned out to be from a cavity in a molar. The pain started in the tooth about 24 hours after the swelling in the gland, and about 12 hours after I’d been given an antibiotic and a manual breast exam at an urgent care clinic, and been told to see my PCP ASAP, and see what kind of tests she suggested, because they were at a loss to diagnose it. It was still sure I had cancer until my tooth started hurting, and I looked in the mirror, and saw OMG, a huge cavity out of nowhere.

I don’t know if any of that helps. But there are a lot of us out here who understand the feelings you are experiencing.

Whatever happens, we all care about you, and you aren’t going to die tomorrow.

because you were focussing on following the instructions given to you? Because the radiologist may have been a radiographer who was busy aligning the machines and pressing the knobs and everything required to get the images?

The radiographer wouldn’t have been able to and wouldn’t have told you anything much, even if you had asked. In my experience, they don’t say anything, even if they are looking at something clearly identifiable. They take the “pictures” and then those pictures are reviewed by the radiologist who considers what’s on them without the pressure of “fiddling” with the machinery. Even if you’d asked, and even if you’d been told something, you wouldn’t have remembered by the time you got home. Wait for the written report and then you’ll have it in black and white and won’t be relying on the memory of somebody with a lot of adrenaline and worry going on.

The one thing that comes with ongoing medical treatment is a LOT of waiting around and a LOT of not being told what’s going on. Feeling angry with yourself won’t change any of that and I think you’ll need to learn to “go with the flow” IF (and it’s an “IF” with capitals and bolding) you are looking at ongoing treatment.

tldr: try to relax, the stress and angst and self-recriminations won’t do you any good at all.

Choie: I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2012. It took two weeks from biopsy to when they told me the results. During that time I kept telling myself: “Cancer? I don’t have cancer. That’s dumb. Stop thinking about it.”

Sparing you the details of “the day” it was quite a blow, although I could feel it coming for an hour as I sat in the doc’s (urologist’s) office. People who came in after me were called in before I was. I finally went to the window and asked why I hadn’t been called yet, and was told that “the doctor” had to see me. The others, apparently, had minor issues that were handled by assistants. As I sat and waited, I started feeling a sense of doom descending upon me – which ended up being accurate.

So here I am, six years later and cancer free – as of January. I go for another PSA test in a couple of weeks, but I’m not worried. Statistically I will die of old age or something else – but not of recurring prostate cancer.

But I am living with the side-effects of treatment which are life-changing, permanent, not fun, and even depressing at times.

An odd thing I’ve learned through this journey: Nobody – especially IRL – wants to talk about cancer except those who have it, or have had it. We ALWAYS want to talk about it. Everyone else will do anything possible to avoid the subject.

A side note: After diagnosis my best buddy took me out for a few drinks. I ordered a Margarita and the barmaid asked me if I wanted salt on the rim. “Of course.” Then I said to my buddy, chuckling: "What the hell do I care about a little salt? I’ve got cancer."

More notes: My 74 year-old neighbor had prostate cancer and surgery in 2000. It has come back twice. He has been on hormone treatment now for years and his PSA is at zero – meaning no cancer cells in his bloodstream. He is doing fine and talks very openly and candidly with me about it.

His wife had breast cancer not too long after his problem in 2000. I think she had a double mastectomy and was fine for years, but it came back a few years ago. Their son told me it was the kind that responded well to hormone treatment, and last I knew she was doing fine.

At any rate it certainly sucks and isn’t any fun. But we have to play the cards we’re dealt.

Good luck, and keep us updated.

I have no good advice to give, other than trying to focus on any treatment which comes out of the diagnosis, once you get it.

Other than that, sending lots of positive energy. hugs

choie, you reacted like a normal human in that scary, high-stress situation. I can’t remember a word of what my oncologist said when she confirmed it was cancer. My mom and husband were in the room and didn’t catch much, either. I wonder if being hard on yourself is misplaced anger along with fear? I hope you can figure out how to go easier on yourself. Hugs.


I’ll echo what others are saying and encourage you to give yourself a break. My mother is a nurse and was quite capable when my father had cancer, but freezes up whenever she has to see the doctor for herself. It’s simply a common human experience.

If you can, have your sister go with you next time.

My sister-in-law waited until her lump had gotten to 10 cm before she finally went to the doctor, and she’s still doing well, nine years later.