There is evidence of a spiculated mass in the upper central portion of the left breast with possible satellite lesion. We will evaluate the area with focal compression views and ultrasound. Radiology will schedule additional views of the left breast and left breast ultrasound.
Can you imagine being alone in your house early one morning, sitting at your computer and suddenly reading those words on your screen about you? Due to a technical error, that was exactly how I learned that I might have breast cancer on December 3, 2007.
It wasn't supposed to have happened like that. I was supposed to have received a phone call simply asking me to come in for a diagnostic mammogram after a routine mammogram showed an abnormality. I would be told that it is not unusual for abnormalities to show up and generally they are benign. A diagnostic mammogram would enable them to have a closer look. Then the radiologist would have come in and gently told me that there was a mass and while they weren't 100% certain yet, it could be cancer and a biopsy needed to be scheduled. There would probably have been a box of kleenex and a compassionate shoulder to cry on as someone gently asked if I wanted someone to call my husband or someone else. I would be told to take my time. I should not be alone right now. Someone would sit with me until he arrived.
That was how it was supposed to be but it wasn't. I was alone in an empty house when I learned I might have cancer. I am glad that at that moment, God reminded me that I was not really alone. He was there and I immediately clung to Him tightly.
INDICATION: Spiculated mass with satellite lesion in central left breast... The irregular spiculated mass with a smaller spiculated satellite lesion posteriorly was present in the 12 o'clock position... Targeted ultrasound demonstrates an irregularly shaped hypoechoic mass in the 12 o'clock position... These findings most
likely represent malignancy. Ultrasound guided biopsy is recommended for further evaluation.
The diagnostic mammogram revealed that I did indeed have a spiculated mass. I had frantically read everything I could after I first learned I had a mass and had learned that a spiculated mass in almost always malignant therefore I had prepared myself as best I could for the words "These findings most likely represent malignancy." I reached for God's hand only to discover that I was enclosed within it.
I sobbed and screamed in agony at God. The questions came spilling out. All this was happening as I was zooming down the freeway through city traffic. There was silence as I struggled within myself. I wiped away my tears and listened. There wasn't an earthquake, a voice from heaven or anything else that would catch the attention of anyone except me. I had the sudden realization that Jesus Christ, Immanuel (God with us) was crying along with me. The outcome wasn't important. At this moment, God was crying along with me. He knew and understood my pain, sadness and fear.
When life is difficult, words only help so much. The most comforting thing of all is to be tightly held by someone as you shed tears together. I was being held by and shedding tears with Immanuel. The same is true for all of us.
On December 12, 2007 as I laid on the table, a nurse went to get my husband. The radiologist, eyes filled with compassion, leaned over me and took my hand. She spoke to me gently. "I think we are looking at cancer." Then her voice became firm and her grip on my hand tightened. "We have found it! Remember that! We have found it so now we can try to do something about it!"
Final Pathological Diagnosis:-Infiltrating ductal carcinoma, Nottingham grade 3 of 3
Breast cancer. I had breast cancer.Breast cancer tumors have three grades (not to be confused with stages), 1, 2 and 3. The higher the grade, the more aggressive the cancer. My tumor was a grade 3 and further tests would reveal that I had a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, triple negative. I would spend the greater part of 2008 in cancer treatment. For me that meant surgery (lumpectomy), dose-dense chemotherapy and radiation. Dose-dense chemo is an aggressive treatment and it would render me into a semi-invalid for nearly five months. It was rough. Very rough but during that time I came to understand more deeply the love and compassion God has towards us.
On this day, eight years ago, I wondered if I would live even live another five years and if I did, what would my life be like? I have to say that my life itself has changed a great deal in some respects. I deal with some residual effects of my cancer treatment. I also had a ruptured brain aneurysm nearly six years ago (December 10, 2009) and I have experienced some side-effects to that as well. So is my life "perfect"? No, but I am pretty certain that no one else has a perfect life either, at least not all the time!
What I have learned is that God is with us, even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death and that we can trust Him no matter what. He will give us what we need, when we need it and can turn our darkness into light.
All quotations are excerpts from previous blogs written by myself.
Amen, amen, amen, amen!