October is Over, But My Battle with Breast Cancer Continuesby Blythe Newsome
We are well into November but I am still functioning as if it were October.
October was Breast Cancer Awareness month and I jumped in to it with full force. I met some incredible men and women who have battled the disease and shared their stories. I learned so much about the statistics of the disease and the amazing people who have been touched by it.
I volunteered to write a story for the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I volunteered to share my story.
I am the mom who found a lump in her right breast by pure accident. I had the lump checked. I had surgery to lessen the amount of breast tissue so that I could feel if there was another lump. I agreed to share my story and to let a photographer come with me during my latest mammogram.
So many friends that I have and woman that I know put off having a mammogram because it seems uncomfortable. I thought if I opened up and shared what the experience was truly like that it would get a least one woman who was putting off having her mammogram or doing a self-breast exam to get it done.
Based on the response and the emails, I think that I did that. I had some many lovely emails from men and women who had put off getting checked. They read my story that ran on October 31st and decided to make an appointment that day.
I went to sleep that Wednesday night thinking I had done my job.
Friday morning I dropped my daughter off a school and was on my way into work when my phone rang. It was the CRMC Breast Center. They needed me to come in to have another picture taken of my left breast. I was stunned for a moment. The lump I had found was in my right breast.
Apparently, the results of that were negative for anything suspicious. But they had found something in my left breast. It was 8:30 in the morning. They asked if I could be there at 9:30 that same morning.
I am blessed to work with such amazing people that it was not even a question of if I could take the time off from work to go have this checked. I was scared and numb.
This was a story that was supposed to educate people about the importance of self breast-exams and mammograms. It wasn’t supposed to show something in my other breast. This wasn’t supposed to be a story that could save my life.
I was there at 9:30 am and they took more pictures of my left breast. This time I paid even more attention and I saw the place that was of concern. My heart was beating so fast.
They sent me for an ultrasound and I sat in the waiting room with three other women thinking that statistically one of us will probably be diagnosed with breast cancer. That is crazy.
When the ultrasound technician came I couldn’t help but hang on to every image that I saw on the screen, every word that she said. Unfortunately it looked like a bunch of grey and white blurry objects and she couldn’t divulge any information. It was a long weekend.
Today I got a letter in the mail saying that the images were negative for cancer but that I needed to come back in six months. I have an appointment with a doctor tomorrow morning at 10:00 am.
The question is do I wait six months? Do I take care of it now? I think I am someone that would say “if you are concerned that a spot could be cancer then take my breast off.”
But am I really? If it is at all suspicious - would you wait six months to find out? What is during that time it could have been removed and treated less aggressively? Are our breasts really that important to risk our lives?
Tonight my daughter was playing in a very intense varsity soccer game against another local high school. In the middle of a time out, as she was standing close to me, she said, “Do we know the results yet?”
I looked at her blankly. She stopped in her tracks and said, “Mom, is it breast cancer or not, ‘cause either way we can fight this.” The whistle blew and the game started again.
A mom from the other team, a complete stranger, overheard our conversation. She quietly said, “That is not something you hear every day between a mother and her child, you all must be very close and I will never forget this moment. I hope and will pray that you are okay.”
My daughter’s team was expected to be blown away their opponent's powerful team. My daughter’s team lost by 2-1.
As she was getting in bed I sat beside her and brushed her hair. My sweet, exhausted little girl was still so pumped from the game. As I tucked her in bed she said, “See Mom, we are so much stronger than anyone ever thinks we can be.”
She is right. I am not looking at statistics or odds anymore. I am going to get the information that I need tomorrow and I am going to face this head on without ever thinking that I can’t beat anything and doing whatever I have to do to be here for my children as long as I can.
*Side note- The doctor recommended I have a biopsy. It will be set up for this week. I am a mom who wants to be strong- but honestly, I am a mom who is scared.
I have agreed to continue to share the story, including the day of the biopsy and the results. Then we will go from there. One day at a time. Readers can contact Blythe at firstname.lastname@example.org