Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Life-Altering Phone Call

My biopsy was Friday, 01/20/17...this is Tuesday, 01/24/17.  I was told that biopsy results would be in 72 hours, but figured that Saturday and Sunday wouldn't count.  I tried not to think too much about it over the weekend and just took it pretty easy.  I worked Monday and Tuesday.  I was a little bruised at the biopsy site and still had steri-strips in place, but the only things that really bothered me was my bra rubbing on the site and the swelling causing my scrub top to irritate my inner arm.  Of course, my coworkers and family were asking about my results, but I was trying not to count on them until Thursday.

I'm a NICU nurse.  A typical routine for our patients is an every 3 hour feeding schedule. This shift I had 3 patients...0800, 0830, 0900...1100, 1130, 1200...etc.  I was mid-way through my second round and decided to walk a dirty bed to the cleaning area while milk was warming for my little patient.  My phone was in my pocket.....needless to say, every time it vibrated that past week, I had jumped.  This time was no different.  I felt the vibration and when I looked in my pocket I recognized the extension from my OBGYN's office.  I jumped into the supply closet next to where I was standing and took the call.....time stood still for a moment.

My long-time OBGYN told me he had my results....he didn't make me wait or ask, thankfully.  His words were: "It's the best of the worst diagnosis, Julie."  I was informed that the biopsy showed Stage 0 DCIS....ductal carcinoma in situ.  He went on to briefly explain that this was "the good kind" and that the Breast Care Navigator would be in touch to walk me through this new journey.

It wasn't a long phone call....but it was life-altering.  

In that moment, 
standing in a supply closet in the middle of the NICU, 
I became a cancer patient....a woman with breast cancer.  

I walked out and just started pushing the dirty bed down the hall. While I was in the empty cleaning area, I quickly dialed my mother and told her what little I knew.  She would inform my Dad and Granny since I was at work.  I asked her to wait and let me tell my son when I got home.

Then, it was back to my pod and time to get back to work.  It didn't feel real and I definitely think I was in a bit of shock, even though I thought I was prepared for this possibility.  My two coworkers were working with a patient when I returned with the news.  They both immediately said: "Do you need a minute? Do you need to go?"   My response was something like: "I better not....I think I need to just keep moving.  And, the babies need to eat."

The baby was bottle feeding that round and took his time...I remember sitting there and just re-playing the phone call in my head.  One of the gals asked me what I was thinking and I just said: "I have breast cancer.  That's really weird to say out loud."  

Within the hour, the Breast Center Navigator called me and we scheduled a meeting for the next morning.  She gave me a little more information over the phone and let me know that I qualified for genetic testing and that I could complete it the next day too.

My lesion...~3cms located at 1:00, 5 cm
from the nipple on my left breast
At the end of the day, here's what I knew:
  • "In situ" means "in place". This means that the cancer is usually contained where it is found and Stage 0 means that it appears to be non-invasive.
  • DCIS is furthered contained in the milk ducts.
  • I would meet with the Navigator the next day at 09:00 to review everything and start making plans and appointments. She would help me with surgeons and appointments.
  • Because I am 40 with breast cancer and have a grandmother with a history of uterine/ovarian cancer, genetic testing would be offered, recommended, and should be covered by insurance. It would be completed at 10:00 the following day.
  • Most likely, the MDs would offer me three options: lumpectomy, unilateral mastectomy, or double mastectomy....details to be discussed the next day.
  • I would need to talk to a surgical oncologist for lumpectomy or mastectomy and a plastic surgeon for reconstruction. 
My son took it well that night. Calm and cool as usual. He gave me a big hug and told me it was going to be okay.  Pretty sure I didn't sleep that night but a few minutes here and there. No tears, just a lot of praying and thinking.

It was a lot to take in, but I actually felt better knowing...as crazy as that sounds, it was better than wondering and waiting.  

12/22/16  Routine Screening Mammogram
01/18/17  Repeat Imaging and US of left breast; LUMP found.
01/20/17  Core Needle Biopsy
01/24/17  Biopsy results postive...Stage 0 DCIS, left breast
01/25/17  Meeting with Breast Center Navigator and Genetic Testing

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