And the fight was on.
The story of how Confidence Inked came to be a very special place for areola tattoo and scar camouflage.
I had some swelling on the side of my chest, under the upper part of my right arm. I wasn’t concerned about the lump in my breast I knew was there. I wasn’t ever going to have breast cancer. It wasn’t even a thought. My mom had cysts, I figured that’s what it was. It wasn’t cancer. No one in my family ever had cancer. I missed a mammogram – I was too busy. It was impossible to get off work and there was so much else going on.
Back to no cancer in my family – wasn’t worried. I made a doctor appointment and cancelled; I couldn’t get off work. Something about this really bothered me, and I needed someone to tell me I was the priority. After work I sat on the porch swing and called the nurse line on the back of my insurance card. For some reason I needed someone to tell me that THIS was a priority. I had to make this and me the most important thing going. We chatted. She said yes, I probably should. That meant that when I called and rescheduled the next appointment, I just had to make it. Everything else just had to wait. I made another appointment, first available and went. It was your average doctor’s appointment. He looked at the area. He was going to send me for tests and ask if I was up to date on my mammogram. I said no, I had missed one. The mammogram appointment was scheduled at the Breast Center at Penn State Hershey.
And guess what… surprise!
After the mammogram I was asked if I could stay so they could biopsy the lump. Something was wrong.
I remember getting home from my appointment. Obviously, it was hours later than expected and my daughter was sitting on the porch swing waiting for me. In some way, I had been told that I had breast cancer. After the biopsy the nurse said that the doctor who did my biopsy was very experienced, and she knew these things and could tell. Apparently while I was trying not to pay attention during the procedure, I had missed something. I was handed a little round pillow that some breast cancer survivor made for the staff to give out to the newly diagnosed. I was asked if I had any questions and told if I was going to look up any information before my return appointment that I should stick to the well-known websites like the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen. It was all strange and surrealistic. Rachel and I sat on the porch and talked. She was immediately worried. My little girl was a student at Penn State Harrisburg Campus and was working with THON. She loved THON, but that meant that she had more information about cancer than I did. I decided until I had my return appointment, nothing was for sure, and I would be cautiously optimistic.
Now it happened that my mammogram appointment was later in the day on Wednesday, June 29. Pathology for the biopsy takes 3 days, that made the results available Saturday. Yep, no results on Saturday or Sunday --- or for that matter, Monday. Since it was the fourth of July weekend everything was closed on Monday. I waited a full week for my appointment to confirm the pathology that showed I had breast cancer.
And it did, of course it did!
The biopsy results showed cancer. Dr. knew what she was doing. She knew. But I was allowed a few days to hoping otherwise until the reality of it all began. And it did. I don’t remember a lot of that second appointment either. A desk and a chair, no windows. There was no need for an exam room. The test was positive and currently there were no oncologists available. I would get a call when a doctor had was assigned my case with and I would then set up and initial appointment with my oncologist. (I never thought I would have an oncologist… Who knew?)
Hmmm breast cancer… my attitude of too many other things going to have time for this immediately changed to, this is first. No matter what I take the first available appointment whenever they want me there and the rest of the world will just have to cope with it.
I told my amazing family. Not only do I have a son and daughter, but my mother, brother, sister and beyond. It’s incredible how we rally. No matter what it is. We are tight. I told my boss the next day and then those I worked with. I worked in a small office. When I announced I had breast cancer to everyone at our daily production meeting, Mike cried. I didn’t know his mom had fought several times and eventually lost. We talked about his mom during my treatment, he was one that understood what was happening. He was a sweetheart.
A couple weeks later I got that phone call. My case was assigned to Dr. Truica. In my humble opinion, she’s one amazing lady along with her CRNP Connie. I took the first available appointment as promised, and the fun began. A slurry of tests from bloodwork, Xrays, MRIs, EKG and whatever else was requested. I was Stage 3 Triple Negative on my right side. In this breast cancer thing, if there was a standard, I was the opposite. Triple-negative is least common and most aggressive and hardest to treat, therefor the deadliest. Most have breast cancer on their left, mine was on the right. It just how my game went. I was diagnosed June 29th and finished my treatment April 3, 2017. Testing, chemo, lumpectomy or mastectomy (TBD after chemo) and wrap it all up with a month of radiation.
Something I need to say in all of this is that everything went amazingly well. The tests went smoothly, I came of went form work as I needed to. I worried how I was going to pay for this treatment. I was a single mom. I had a house and bills and although I didn’t have young kids, I did have Rachel who was 19 and in college and Christian who as 21 living at home too. I applied for financial assistance from Penn State Hershey and cried when I got that letter that said I had 100% financing. They covered every penny that my health insurance didn’t. I didn’t even look at a bill though my treatment.
Next time: Part 2 – Trust your instincts, especially when your life depends on it.
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