Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hurry up and wait

On Friday I received a phone call from St. Michaels Hospital telling me that I was booked for another biopsy that was to take place on Tuesday, November 4th.
The conversation when something like this-
Me - "A biopsy??"
Her - "Yes, a biopsy. You will have to come in at 9:30 for an ultrasound, and then they will use a needle..."
Me - (cutting her off mid-sentence) "Yes, I've had them done before, I understand what happens"
Her - "Oh, well ok. We will see you on the 4th then."
Me (almost in tears) - "Ummmm... yeah. goodbye."

I sat there for another minute or so, eyes filling up with tears, wondering why in heck I had to go back in for ANOTHER dang biopsy. I already know that I have cancer, why do I need to be poked again?? Of course, questions like that don't pop into my head when I'm on the phone. I'm terrible for being two steps behind.

Monday rolls around and I decide to call the doctor's administrative assistant to ask why I have to have yet another biopsy. She seems as puzzled as I am and informs me that she will talk to the Dr. when he is out of surgery and get back to me with an answer. About 2 hours later, she calls me back and says that they found another spot on the same breast that they want to have a look at. I thank her very much for the information. Hang up the phone and promptly have a mini melt-down.

My mother and I drive up to Toronto that afternoon and stay the night with some distant relative. Next morning, we head to the hospital, register and make ourselves comfortable for a long wait. After about 20 minutes, my cousin (who works at the hospital and got me the appointments in the first place) came up to sit with us for awhile. She asked me if I knew what was going. I explained that the assistant had told me that I have to have a biopsy on another spot. She confirmed this and informed me that they want to look at my lymph nodes too. As I'm sure you can assume, I'm thrilled. Suddenly my single biopsy has turned into two.

At this point, I basically have no idea what is going on with the test results, as no one has thought it important to talk to me about them.

After another 5-10 minutes, the polish ultrasound tech. comes to get me and we disappear into the biopsy room. She locates the original mass, the new mass and the node on my armpit. She also informs me that the MRI has picked something up on my left side too. I start to panic, just a little. Luckily, the only thing she can locate on the left side is a small cyst. I tell her that I am a little nervous, as that is what I was told the original cancer was. She assures me that that is all it is. She then explains that the Dr. will be coming in now to biopsy the new spot, as well as the old spot. My biopsies as multiplying like randy bunnies... bringing this a grand total of 3 (not 1).

A new Dr. that I've never seen before comes in, introduces himself and then stabs me with a needle to freeze the affected areas. Shortly thereafter, he busts out the big guns and shoves the core needle into the original mass, not once, not twice, but three times. A little small talk is exchanged, and he proceeds to stick the needle in my new mass twice. We say our goodbyes and he is gone.

The tech. then searches for the node in my armpit and after finding it, calls him back. This biopsy is done without any sort of freezing at all. The needle that is used is much smaller. I bite my lip and he says "OK, a little poke here". Ha. It wasn't so much the original poke, but the wiggling and shimmying of the needle when it was inside me that kinda made me want to throw up, just a little. I just kept repeating in my head "tattooing is worse, tattooing is worse" until it was over.

After this, I had dressings applied to the wounds and was told to go and get dressed.
Trying to figure out if I need more tests or not was like pulling teeth. No one seemed to know what was going on.

We went to talk to the administrative assistant, who tried to be as helpful as possible, but couldn't do much for us. I honestly felt like I did when I was in Seoul. No one was telling me anything about my past MRI or ultrasound results or future tests. At least in Seoul I could blame the lack of communication on a language barrier. Here, there is no good reason why I had no idea what was going on. When this was explained to the assistant, she arranged an appointment for me to see the Dr. at 1pm.

One o'clock rolls around and the Dr. takes us into an office and sits us down for a talk. He explains that he doesn't think that the mass on the left side of the right breast is cancerous. However, if it is, then I will have to have a mastectomy. Keep breathing, I tell myself.

He also explains that the MRI had revealed a cyst on my liver and something on the left breast. He assures me that they are nothing to worry about. Feeling like a bit of a broken record, I explain to him that I'm not really trusting of the word cyst, as that is what my cancer was originally labelled by two different doctors. He does his best to assure me that he understands and that I have nothing to worry about. Ok.

He then goes on to tell me that if the results from the lymph node biopsy come back positive, they will need to do a bone scan and a liver ultrasound to ensure that it hasn't spread any further than the node.

I will have the results of these test in about 10 days. It seems like the same story all the time. Hurry up and get these tests done and then wait. Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait. Always the same.

The one good thing I've found out is that if I do have to have a mastectomy, the reconstructive surgery will be covered.

If you want something interesting to do, google image "mastectomy" or "mastectomy reconstruction". It's not exactly what I expected. On second though, maybe don't.


lucky said...

you are beautiful and brave and you will get through this. XOXOXO.

Anonymous said...

i wish i could be there so badly. i'm holding your hand from afar.
kocham cie

Randy Warner said...

You have no idea how much we appreciate this. Very helpful. You write very well! keep them coming!

Randy and Pam

LadyHayley said...

Man why did I get shipped back to the UK when this was all hapening? Who's gonna sing you Billy Idol songs when doctors start to piss you off?!! I love and miss you but am always here lady you know that. Things will work out, keep your chin up and remember all the people that are here for you xxxx

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