During the first week I did a lot of research. Maybe too much, maybe not. I learned about the stages of Breast Cancer (I'd be somewhere between IA and IIA depending on lymph nodes) and looked up False Positive rates on Breast MRI ("high" but less high for someone like me who repeats it every year). I read a really terrible study that said survival rates were lower for young women than older women, ostensibly because there are different mechanisms behind cancers that appear that early and most research has been targeted toward older women. Luckily I got a really great blog comment from a survivor at that point and I stopped researching (for the most part).
My anxiety seems to peak as I get closer to appointment times. During the rest of the week, I go between forgetting about it and vague worry.
The hardest part is waiting.
One weird thing is that I haven't really told anyone. Just my husband, mom, sister, and my best friend (whom I almost didn't tell). With IVF and all that ensued, I shared left and right. This feels different. Also, I don't really know anything yet.
Here's my timeline so far:
- April 24 - Breast MRI (at Hospital B)
- This freaking appointment was at 6:15am! And DH was out of town so the nanny had to come super early. Then they weren't ready for me and I was sitting and fuming. I had also warned them that I can be a hard stick so I was extremely upset to learn the tech would be starting my IV and I even asked him if he was good and said if he wasn't, I wanted to reschedule (it's unlike me to speak up that much). He did a really good job of joking with me and relieving the tension. AND he got my vein quickly and easily. Bonus points. I chose to listen to "Pitch Perfect" on Pandora during the breaks in the MRI where you can actually hear the music. I call the rest a mix between being inside of a washing machine and an electric dance party. It's really weird and loud, but the only part that really bothers me is laying on my face for that long. Sometimes it begins to really hurt, but you can't move. It's also really cold in there. (Wear yoga pants if you ever need to have one because you can keep on any bottoms that don't have metal. I forgot at this appointment.)
- Later that day I got a follow-up call from my Breast Specialist saying they found a "suspicious" lesion in my left breast at 6 o'clock. She explained the rest of the process and I scheduled follow-up appointments that day.
- April 30 - Diagnostic Mammogram and Ultrasound
- Because my lesion was detected on a Breast MRI, the most sensitive type of imaging, I definitely needed a biopsy. Ultrasound is the simplest method of biopsy, they see it, they biopsy it right there. Mammogram is next easiest. They image it, they mark the coordinates, you go (later) to get a biopsy of those coordinates.
But of course neither of these methods worked for me. There is a bright side. The lesion is very small. That is better no matter what. And I can still slightly hope that it just doesn't show up when I go back to MRI. But no matter what, I had the major anxiety leading up to this appointment and then no answers and more waiting.
- May 1 - Call back from my Breast Specialist
- She ordered my MRI Guided Biopsy (requires referral to different hospital).
- I call the Referral Coordinator at my hospital who says to call the other hospital on Monday and to call her back if they don't have the referral by Tuesday.
- May 3 - Schedule MRI with Hospital B
- I was very pleasantly surprised to get a call from Hospital B on a Sunday to schedule my biopsy.
- May 8 - Guided MRI Biopsy
This step hasn't happened yet, but I know somewhat what to expect. IV for contrast like a normal Breast MRI. I'll be laying still for 30-40 minutes both in and out of the tube. I still can't picture how they actually do the biopsy. Is someone on their hands and knees below me? Can they raise the table up high like a car shop? I guess they insert a small stainless steel marker at the site of the lesion to mark it for potential extraction later. That seems pretty weird to me too.
I imagine I'll have results early the next week. That's when the conversations will get much more interesting...