Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have to Hold On Tight

To say my world has been a constant state of chaos would be an understatement. I'm not sure what the universe is trying to do to us, but I'm ready for things to finally settle down. Sometimes I feel like we conquer one thing just to encounter the next. Cryptic? I'm getting there.

Last July, Ethan began getting sick. A lot. I've already been through the journey to discovering he has Celiac disease and the shift to gluten-free within our household. It hasn't been that bad. In fact, I'm currently enjoying cauliflower rice with sesame orange chicken that's gluten-free and diary free that I made myself. It's delicious. But that's not to say it's be EASY either.

Yesterday Ethan had a Celiac re-check to draw some blood to see where his levels fall. Due to the timing, he would miss school lunch. Big deal, right? Um, yes, it's a big deal because it means I have to find a place that takes gluten-free seriously and doesn't look at me like I've grown two heads when I begin asking about cross contamination. We don't eat out much these days, so I haven't learned the "safe" places yet.

Whats worse is that I recently read more than a couple articles (found in scholarly journals) that show a link between aluminum adjuvant used in vaccines and autoimmune diseases. Celiac is autoimmune. There's no proof, but there's no way I can KNOW for sure the vaccines didn't bring it out. When I get my head above water, I'll have to do a bit more investigating.

Our transition and Ethan's subsequent medical bills began to come together in January of this year. In February, I discovered something rather disturbing in my left breast. A rather large lump. In effort to make sure I wasn't crazy, I made the husband cop a feel. He made a funny face and said, "What the hell is that." I responded with, "Well, I guess that means I should get it checked out."

Two days later, I was sitting on the crinkly paper covering the make-shift exam table in my OB's office. She felt around and conferred that my husband and I were not crazy. She thought I should move forward with a mammogram just to rule anything out but felt pretty confident that all would be well. That lump was probably fibroadenoma. Benign. But let's be safe.

Two weeks later, my precious, small boob was being unceremoniously smooshed between a plastic plate and a piece of metal. In a variety of directions. As is customary, the area was also checked out via ultrasound. And I was sent back to the waiting room full of ladies with similar fates staring at TV screens, phones, or magazines.

They called me back to the tiny waiting room and I waited. I waited for the radiologist to come in and tell me everything was fine. To tell me that it was just the same spot I had biopsied in 2006. Because it was in the same exact location. Maybe it had just grown. My OB wasn't concerned. All would be well.

"I'm concerned and would like you to have a biopsy of the area." Wait. What? That can't be right. I'm going through this again?

Why? I asked. She explained that the area had changed and was bigger. It also had it's own vascular system, which concerned her. Cancer likes to develop its own little colony, blood and all. There were several things that made her feel it was suspicious. And so I left that office feeling a little numb.

And I researched everything in sight. I looked up everything I could with the knowledge I had. My BIRADS score was a 4. That was better than a 5, which was definitely cancer. It meant I had a 3% to 93% of having cancer. There was no 4a, 4b, or 4c. It was simply 4. I was beside myself with worry. I looked up sad stories and happy stories and everything in between.

Two weeks later, I was laying on an ultrasound table being poked, prodded and rubbed. My arm stretched above my head. Two screen within my view. One displaying the horrible lump that brought me here. The other blank. The women that prepared me, sterilizing everything, chatted away. They asked about my comfort. They talked about her recent trip to Puerto Rico. They waited, as I did, for the doctor. And when she came, they stuck me once, twice, three times with small needles to numb the outside and inside of my fragile breast. And then I saw her pick up the knife and felt the pressure as she sliced a tiny incision big enough for a 7-guage core needle. She took a total of four core needle samples. I watched as the blank screen came to life to help her guide the needle into the mass. I watched as the vacuum sucked out the "suspicious" tissue. And when it was all over, I was bandaged up and sent home to rest.

Four agonizing days later, my husband and I returned to the breast clinic. We were greeted within minutes of our arrival. My husband began to worry as we were escorted into a tiny room to find out my fate. I worried.

"Well, it's not cancer, but it's not benign either." Wait. What? What? Then what the hell is it?

My husband rarely asks questions, but he asked her to write down the exact name of the thing that was turning my life upside down. Radial Scar OR, when the lump is as big as mine,  Complex Sclerosing with Atypia Ductal Hyperplasia. What's that mean? It means it's a nasty piece of mass that isn't all that common. And to make matters worse, it has atypical, or abnormal, cells hanging out and propagating in mass quantities. It means it raises your risk for cancer by 4 to 5 times. It means you gotta get the damn thing out before it gets real wild and turns into CANCER.

A week and a half later, I was looking out of the window of a breast surgeon's office wondering how in the hell I ended up here. I was fortunate, I'd been told, to get in with one of the best breast surgeons in town. When he came in, he looked over my report and stated what I already knew. The radial scar could be watched if it didn't have atypia. But that was a deal breaker. It had to come out.

Three weeks later (last Thursday), I arrived at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. I was taken back and placed in my room. I was wheeled over to the breast clinic and numbed. I was fitted with a small wire that would help the surgeon find my nasty lump. It was deep and not in the usual location for this type of mass. I was wheeled back and given an IV and a sedative. My husband went to the waiting room and I waited in unanxious bliss until they came to get me.

Surgical rooms are bright. So. Very. Bright. I mean it's the brightest room I've EVER seen. So white. So clean. I felt the drugs enter my body. I remember saying, "There it is." And then I woke up. I woke up talking nonsense and remembering that I was talking nonsense. I was trying to figure out why I was fixated on the nonsense I chose to wake up spewing. It was about Doulas and Doctors. It was strange.

I was wheeled to my recovery room and honestly, it's all kinds of hazy from there. I don't remember much. I felt loopy and off kilter the rest of the day. And I've been sore. So sore. And I've felt like a wheeny for it.

But then I figured they had to go in through the side almost directly under my armpit. It's 1.5" long. It's through muscle rather than just tissue. It's sore.

Today, I received the news that the 90% chance no cancer would be found came through. There was a 10% the core needle biopsy missed something. Today I found out I DO not have cancer. Just a scar and a tiny indent to remind me why self breast exams are important. After all, I found my own lump and took a proactive approach. Had I waited even a mere 6 months, my outcome could've been significantly different. There's not a lot scarier than looking at your young children and fearing you may have cancer and that cancer may take you away from them.

I bet you think that's it, right? It's enough, but it isn't.

In March, Dylan got sick. He was having trouble breathing and we ended up with breathing treatments. He almost didn't get to come home with me that day, but my doctor knows me and knows that even if I'm all "no unnecessary meds" I'm going to listen to her when she tells me he NEEDS something. And then we talked Asthma. And the fact that he probably HAS asthma. He can't be diagnosed now, but all indications point to that direction. Family history, extreme eczema.

But I'm not done. 

Ethan's preschool gives an eye screening. We received his eye screening with areas of concern marked. So I took him to the optometrist. Low and behold the child is nearly BLIND in his left eye. He can't see the BIG letters. Better than 20/20 in his right. The doctor said, "You're just going to need to make sure nothing happens to his right eye." Oh, and he'll have to wear glasses. He apparently HATES that idea and is concerned he'll look silly. I can't fix this for him, but I can make sure he gets the BEST care possible.

Next week, on Dylan's SECOND birthday, I'll take Ethan to an ophthalmologist. We'll see what they come up with and if this thing can be corrected.

And finally....

Ethan fell 8' out of a tree. He landed on his stomach, lost his breath and had so much dirt crammed into his mouth, I was certain he'd be missing teeth. He came out fairly unscathed and learned a valuable lesson. For me, I briefly let my mind wonder to "what if" he had landed on his head or broke his arm or paralyzed himself. Briefly. He is a boy. 

Good things?

They're hard to find right now, but I'll try. We're planting our garden this weekend. I'm excited for that. We got the truck my husband wanted and we're all in love with it. We're all "healthy" for the most part and happy. I have an amazing family AND Spring is upon us. Swim lessons are starting. I truly have SO much to be thankful for, but today, this moment, I'm most thankful for being CANCER free. :)


  1. I'm in a state of shock, I'm sure my jaw dropped as I was reading and the tears are flowing. This is definitely a roller coaster of a ride you and your family have been on. I am thankful you found the lump and that the outcome is good. ((HUGS)) So sorry to hear about Dylan's asthma and Ethan's eye, I can't believe it. Praying that they can help Ethan's eye and that Dylan doesn't get hit hard with asthma. I got mine later in life. Even though a child can grow out of it he has a long journey ahead of him, he is still so young. Then Ethan falling out of the tree, what a scare and thankfully he is okay. Okay, life can slow down now for you......

  2. What an unpleasant time you've had lately! Thankful for you that you avoided a wprse diagnosis but sorry that you've had to suffer through all that. Hopefully life is a little more calm for awhile now

  3. pretty nice blog, following :)

  4. Goodness. That is all too much. I am so for all those things you've had to go through. I can't imagine. I'll be thinking of y'all!