My “Not-So-Routine” Mammogram – August 2007

IMG_5001I went in for what I thought would be a “routine” mammogram on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007. After the mammogram was finished, they asked me to wait in the waiting room as they always did so they could make certain the films came out right. I had never been called back in before. This time would be different.
They ushered me back to the room for “more pictures.” As I walked down the hall to the mammography room, I glanced over my left shoulder into a room I was passing and there on the screen, all lit up was a film of a breast with a big white area that did not look good. I remember thinking….”I hope that’s not mine” yet somehow knowing it was. They took more pictures….lots more, and I went home. Later that day, the call came telling me I would need to come back the next day for further mammography and possibly an ultra sound.

On Wednesday, August 15th I went back. After extensive mammography on both breasts they called me into another room where a Radiologist did an ultra sound of my left breast. He told me they were quite certain it was cancer and that I would need a biopsy immediately. The biopsy was scheduled for the following day.

On Thursday, August 16th, Jim took me to the hospital for a biopsy. The surgeon confirmed that it indeed looked suspicious as he looked at a film from my right side. I told him it was my left side that I was there for. When he looked at the film for the left breast he told me that without a doubt this looked like cancer. The biopsy was completed and we went home to WAIT. It was an extremely long weekend of waiting and smiling and pretending in front of the children and everyone else that there was nothing out of the ordinary happening.

On Monday August 20th, the call came from the radiologist. I heard him say “Yes, cancer. We have already scheduled an appointment for you with a surgeon.” I wrote down some notes as he spoke. Then I remember hearing this strangely calm voice coming out of me as I asked a number of questions. Then I asked if there was anything else I should know. He rattled off a series of facts that meant very little to me at the time but would soon become a regular part of our household vocabulary: Estrogen and Progesterone receptor positive, Her2nu overexpressing, grade 3 (not to be confused with stage). Then I told him that we were scheduled to leave for Florida that following weekend for a 2 week vacation. He told me I would need to see the surgeon before I left. I thanked him calmly, hung up the phone and just sat there for what seemed like a long time before the tears began to flow. I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes before Jim would arrive home from work. A very long 20 minutes. I just sat there, stunned with tears pouring down my cheeks. Cancer? I have cancer? How do you share this kind of news? Jim came in, and saw me sitting there looking stunned. I explained what I had been told and we just held each other in disbelief. What did this all mean? How could everything have changed so quickly from one week to the next?

We saw the surgeon on Friday evening of that same week, and then left for Florida the very next morning. There was no time to talk with the kids before leaving, but the time away helped prepare us to talk with them. We had to shorten our trip to Florida by a week, but it was a blessing and an opportunity to read the book my surgeon had given us, and a time to be together and prayerfully prepare for the journey ahead.

We came back from Florida, and immediately sat down with the children and explained to the best of our ability what was happening.

In September I had a left mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy. I was diagnosed stage 2A because the tumor was a little larger than a stage 1 tumor. Praise God my nodes were clean. I began chemo and Herceptin shortly after the surgery. There would be 6 chemo treatments and a full year of Herceptin.

April 2008 I had a full hysterectomy and began taking Arimadex.

January 2009 I had a right mastectomy.

Fall 2009 I had reconstructive surgery.

I stayed on the Arimadex for 2 of the 5 scheduled years and then stopped after the neuropathy became too severe.

It was a long up-and-down journey, but God was so faithful. I had amazing support. Jim was a rock, the kids were wonderful, and my family, friends, and church family supported me and walked with me in so many ways. I was blessed beyond anything I could have hoped for or imagined.

It took much longer to recuperate than I ever imagined it would. There was more than the battle with cancer. There was the fight and journey back to wellness – Real Wellness – Vibrant Health, and joy and balance and WELLNESS!!! But I am well now and blessed and enjoying every minute of this life.


Holly color brightenedHolly – From Breast Cancer to Wellness



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