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).
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.