Eyes Wide Open

I’ve been through a lot in the past 20 years that only a handful of people know about.  I have shed quite a few tears, I have held in fear and anger, I have shut myself off from the rest of the world  unable to leave my home.  Basically, I have dealt with major issues in unhealthy ways and without the support I so desperately needed.

This past cancer scare opened my eyes to a support system I never knew existed and to one that powerfully uplifted me in ways I have never experienced, ever.  Don’t get me wrong, I have some of the most amazing friends that will jump on the next plane to Arkansas if I need them.  These friends will and have been by my side through the tough times without judgement or critisim.  They are true friends.

I discovered that by opening up and publicly sharing something so deeply personal that a support system that I didn’t even know existed came out of the woodwork.  I got text messages, phone calls, tweets, Facebook messages, Skype messages, emails and even flowers from my online community.  I went from knowing I had a few close friends to knowing I have an online community of hundreds who were sending me well wishes when I went for my biopsy and prayers for benign results.  I even learned of others that had or were currently going through the same thing. Others decided they needed to get their breasts checked out as a result of my openness.

Ted Rubin shared this quote in a comment that was all too perfect:

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~Jane Howard

Knowing what I know now has made the realization all too clear that in order to get through life’s troubling times I should share my experiences with others.



The Biopsy

photo taken by Brad Lawless

I tossed and turned last night.  I tried really hard not to think about the biopsy, but it deemed difficult to put out of my mind.

The biopsy was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and I was up and out of bed by 5:30 a.m.  Remaining calm was my intention, but I felt so tense and so uneasy.  The muscles in my neck were and still are hard tight knots.

They called me in after only being in the waiting room for a few minutes.  When they called my name I jumped as if someone said, “Boo!”  I stood up and slowly walked to the door.  I wanted so badly to turn and run, but I knew that I would be running from something that I needed answers to and I needed to be strong for myself and for my loved ones.

I walked with the nurse to a small room where she offered me a Xanax and a glass of water.   I gladly popped the pill in my mouth and washed it down with the ice cold beverage.  She then asked  me to remove my clothes from the waist up and handed me a pink top like smock thing.   She returned a few minutes later and led me to another room.

The next room felt familiar.  It reminded me of the room I had the ultrasound in 5 days prior.  The technician  asked me to lay on the table and then she had me roll on my side, facing the computer screen while she put a wedge behind my back.  She then had me raise my right arm above my head.  I remained in that position throughout the entire time I laid on that table…about an hour.  She then proceded to take an ultrasound so she could get some more pictures for the doctor.

While we waited for the doctor the same awful music filled the room.  If only they played music I could sing along too.  That would surely take my mind off of what was about to happen to my poor little boob.  The worst part was the technician and the nurse stood in complete silence the entire 10 or so minutes I laid there.  I was in emotional misery and they were not helping AT.ALL.

The doctor arrived, looked at the ultrasound photos, looked at the lump herself with the ultrasound machine and then said, “Dr. So and So owes me a coffee for this one.  It is located in a really hard angle to get to.”  Wow…that was really helping me feel better, I thought sarcastically.  Could this room get any more uncomfortable??

It was time for them to start the procedure.  The Xanax had started to kick in and the nervous fidgeting and twisting of the blanket laying on top of me turned into gental petting of the soft material.  I closed my eyes for the rest of the event.

To be quite honest, the best part of the procedure was the procedure itself.  I thought for sure it was going to hurt and not once did I feel pain.  The doctor numbed the location before starting and each sample she drew with the 12 gauge needle, she administered more pain medication.  The sound of the machine that took the tissue sample from the lump was pretty nerve racking as was my fear that I would feel pain. There have been many times when I have had a tooth drilled without enough Novocain and the pain from the drill to the exposed nerve was killer.  During the procedure, I felt no discomfort and more importantly, no pain.

After the biopsy was complete, they had me do another mammogram.  Again, I thought about the pain I was about to endure as they squeezed my tender breast between the tight pieces of plastic, but that was not the case.  The technician was very gental and the procedure, pleasant.

I got dressed and lazily walked out of the office.  I felt a bit loopy from the drugs and was ready to get home and lie down.

I just completed the 3 hours of icing and now I wait.  Luckily, the nurse I had spoken to yesterday was incorrect and I will have the results  tomorrow at 4:30pm CST.  Thank heavens because I don’t know if I could wait another week!

Tomorrow is the Biopsy

My stomach is in knots today thinking about my biopsy tomorrow.

I just got off the phone with the doctors office.  I was so beside myself when I was leaving the mammogram appointment that I asked all the WRONG questions and left with little to no answers.  I just wanted out of the office so I could let the flood gates open from my eyes.  I held those tears back with every ounce of strength I had.  They did give me a list of instructions…what to wear, what medicine not to take, how long the procedure would take, how to take care of my breast after the biopsy, etc.  They even said they would provide me with anxiety medicine if I wanted it…I think I’ll take them up on the offer!

The most important thing I forgot to ask, “When will I have results?”

The nurse I spoke to today told me that the office will be able to pretty much tell me right away if the cells look cancerous, but they will be sending the sample to have further testing and I should hear back in about a week.  I am not experiencing an ounce of relief knowing this, but it is good to know.

So, now I just wait and work and try and get through this day.  All the what if’s are racing through my head, I’ve even thought about removal if it comes to that.