Breast cancer: the very first symptom

I was playing with my golden retriever one afternoon. We both turned around really fast and his paw encountered my left breast on the lower side of my sternum. I felt a piercing pain and was sure I’d get a black and blue next morning. I didn’t, but it sure hurt.

I forgot about it for a couple of days until it started itching and burning. It was the kind of itch that, when you scratch, will not go away. Then one night, while I was scratching, I felt a lump the size of a blueberry. It felt hard to the touch and was not moving, as if it had grown out of the bone. Given that my dog had kicked me right there, I paid no attention because I assumed it was nothing and that it would go away …but the itching continued.   I, nevertheless, went about my life for months until the lump started hurting so bad -to the point where I couldn’t sleep- that I decided to go to the doctor to have it removed. Like a cyst or something.

The first doctor I went to bluntly said it was cancer. No tests, no biopsy, nothing. Looked at it and said it was cancer and that I had to have my breast removed. Of course I didn’t do that so I went and got a second opinion from a doctor who, just by looking at my breast, started talking about money and how I was going to die in less than six months if I didn’t have both my breasts removed and how he could give me a discount just because he was such a nice guy… odd, to say the least.

Off to a third opinion! And believe me when I tell you that this other doctor wins the jerk and bully awards.

This third opinion jerk doctor had me take off my clothes and began touching me. No he didn’t examine me… he touched me and then asked me to get dressed and step into his office where loud classical music -Beethoven to be exact- was coming out of his PC. It was stressful. Who’d want to hear Beethoven at the oncologist’s office???? Who needs music at all while at the doctor’s?!

As I sat down, he took out a camera and took my picture. Yes, he took it without my permission! Then he asked for my name and medical history while taking one phone call after the other in between questions as if I didn’t exist. As if I were just a source of information.

I really wanted to get the hell out of there, but I needed a doctor to write a prescription to have some tests run; so I stayed knowing I’d never see him again unless it was to kick his balls.

The first thing that came out of his mouth was ‘it’s cancer and it’s serious’.

–        Can you do a biopsy?, I asked

–        No. I don’t need it. You will undergo surgery as you’re past the biopsy stage. Although I will need a mammogram, an ultrasound and blood work before the surgery to see exactly where your tumor’s at.

First of all, it’s not MY tumor and it will never be! It’s just a tumor that I didn’t buy nor ask for… so it’s not mine.

I assumed he was kidding because he said it with a freaking smile on his face! What was funny about that? Why wasn’t I going to get chemo before surgery like the rest of the women I know? Why was he deciding for me? It’s my body, my boobs, MY DECISION! So why was he telling me what HE needed to do and not asking me what I wanted to do?

He wrote the prescription and I left.

So I went to a fourth opinion with my lab results. This one told me I would need a biopsy to check which kind of cancer it was and the stage it was at while he went through what I could expect out of the biopsy and asked me if I wanted one right then and there. I said yes.

I went to see him two days later with the biopsy results. It was cancer with a HER2 positive thing I could care less about as I was only thinking possibilities. Who cares about the what? You either have choices or you don’t. And I had choices and the description or biology or whatever it is you want to call this cancer had nothing to do with me. It was just some long name that told me nothing.

He thoroughly explained -with drawings and a PowerPoint presentation- what I had been diagnosed with. Yes he told me about treatment options and prognosis, but I only focused on the words that would help me: ‘You are a very healthy woman. You will be undergoing treatment to heal you, not to help you go through this… but to heal you’.

And that’s what I’ve focused on from that moment on. Those words have stuck on my mind and I appreciated his saying so. I will heal because I’m a very healthy woman… with a glitch, yeah… for now.

Yes, I am healthy. I’m a soul made out of energy and I am healthy!

My next appointment was with the chemotherapy oncologist a couple of days later.

–        You are a very energetic person who seems to be taking this well, he said.

Of course I was not only doing well, but very happy! I was going to get the cancer-killing chemo and I would kick cancer’s butt!

My husband asked him about the prognosis and I interrupted the conversation.

–        I don’t want to know, so don’t say it. I don’t want to know what the chances of me dying are nor the when. So don’t say it!

He sat back on his chair looking at me with his eyes stuck on mine trying, maybe, to figure me out. Good luck – I thought – no one has figured me out yet.

Three days later I was sitting on a very comfortable recliner, listening to music on my iPod, knitting nothing -‘cuz I just bought the happy yellow yarn and needles to pass the time- and getting my first chemo. The red chemo. The scary chemo. The strong one as I was told.

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