Monday, July 18, 2011

Introduction/How I found out I had breast cancer

Hi everyone,
Since I now have a few followers I felt I should back up and start my story from the beginning and explain how I discovered I had breast cancer. When I put together this blog I used the old newsletters I had been emailing to my friends and family updating them on my progress. They already knew the background but all you new followers don't.......
So I had been to my OBGYN in October 2010 to get my annual breast exam and pap smear. He examined my breasts and gave me the all clear. I was 40 years old at this time. Then on Jan 26th of this year (2011) I was laying in the bath and for once was not in any kind of a rush, so I decided to do a breast exam. That decision saved my life. As I did the breast check I felt on my left breast towards the bottom edge what appeared to be an extra rib bone....except the rib seemed unusually high as if my rib was poking through where the bottom of my breast should be. I then felt the other breast to compare and realized there was no such "rib" on the other side, and what I was feeling was in fact a large lump, not a rib at all. The lump was so big that I was not that concerned that it could be cancer as I didn't believe a cancerous lump could grow out of nowhere. I presumed it was either a cyst or fibroid as most of the time when you find a lump it's benign. I got on the phone immediately and called my obgyn doctor to get a referral for a mammogram. I didn't even bother seeing him first as I know that when they find a lump they will always have to do a mammogram no matter what, to be on the safe side and I didn't want to waste any time. I called and got an appointment for a diagnostic mammogram the very next day. A diagnostic mammogram is for people who have already found a lump, rather than a routine screening, and it means that the radiologist is present and able to read the results on the spot. I went to the Women's Breast Center in Santa Monica and was examined by Dr Reznick. He did an ultrasound first and told me he would need to do a biopsy. He said he knew it definitely wasn't a fibroid, and if it was a cyst it was 50/50. When I asked what he meant by that he used the C word for the first time I felt very scared when he said that. I had the mammogram next and then the core needle biopsy. He gave me a local, and the biopsy was a little painful, but not as bad as I expected. After that I went to get changed and during that time he and my husband looked at the mammogram film, which confirmed I had breast cancer. My husband told me once we got down to the car. I was filled with a sense of deep shock and disbelief as this didn't seem like the sort of thing that should happen to me. Over time this subsided and we began the journey of researching my treatment options and starting the long process of more diagnostic tests and hospital appointments. For what it's worth my advice to anyone going through all this is do not treat your Doctors like Gods! Research the treatments for any drugs they recommend, ask questions about the efficacy of the treatments they recommend, blunt questions like "how much does this treatment increase long term survival, versus other treatments" Don't take for granted that their treatment is the only options. For me using Western Medicine was urgently required due to the aggressiveness of being HER-2 Positive, and I feel comfortable with that decision. I am so deeply grateful to my friends and family for all their support during my chemo. My local community who brought me so many meals, some of them people I had never met before......thank you to all of you, your love support and kindness has meant so much to me!
love Tricia

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