Yes. I was on vacation. On the plane ride, I pulled a muscle in my shoulder (dealing with the 2 year old’s carseat) and found the lump that evening when I was rubbing it. Yes. My shoulder!? My lump was high and felt gigantic. I couldn’t believe I’d never felt it before. In fact, by sheer dumb luck, I’d actually done a self exam in December and didn’t notice anything. I figured I would get it checked when I got home, so I tried to ignore it and enjoy the time with my parents. About 3 or 4 days later, it was really bugging me. At first I thought the muscle was sore, but it was actually the lump. (Don’t let them tell you cancer doesn’t hurt. Sometimes it does.) A call to my regular doctor and I was in the Urgent Care Facility having them take a look. The doctor was concerned, said it probably wasn’t cancer (you’re too young for cancer. Ha.) but that I should immediately get a mammogram and ultrasound as soon as I got home. My regular doctor concurred and sent me in for those tests. Still probably wasn’t cancer. (You have no family history. About 80 percent of us have no family history.) At this time I really thought I was fine. So when they said they needed a biopsy, I felt completely blindsided. How could they possibly think it was cancer? They had just told me all those things to make me believe I was ok, and then pulled the rug from under me. I cried in the parking lot for a good 20 minutes before I could even drive. I didn’t want to go home, so I ok’d it with my brother who was watching the kids and went to where knitters go when distressed. My local yarn store. I knew somebody would be there to hang out with me until I calmed down.
I had a diagnosis the next evening. Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The most aggressive kind of IDC you can get. Lucky me. Then I had weekend full of crying, panic attacks, anxiety. They probably shouldn’t be able to give you a diagnosis on a Friday at 5 pm. It’s kind of mean. First thing I learned, the internet can be EVIL. You start looking at statistics and completely freaking out. Luckily for me, a good friend had one of her good friends give me a call. D has a young daughter with cancer. A particularly nasty kind. The kind where the prognosis is a 10 percent survival rate. Here’s the thing. Her daughter is beating her cancer. They believe against all those odds that she will be cancer free and go on to live her adult life. D put my head back on straight. She said to ignore those scary internet numbers. They are not you. Those words really helped to get ready to do this. I am not numbers. In fact, to this day I haven’t asked how many years might have, because the truth is, even the doctors don’t know. I saw a special on PBS with Linda Ellerbee where she talked about something her doctor had said to her recently, “We thought you had 3 years. Tops.” She is almost 20 years out from diagnosis and said, “Boy am I glad you didn’t tell me that.”
Anyway, the last 6 months have been a blur of scans, doctor visits, surgery, and chemo. I have knit 3 hats, some socks, 2 baby sweaters, and am now in the middle of a sweater for my LYS (local yarn store) to have as a sample. All knit mostly at doctors’ offices. I find it, along with D’s words, helps me stay calm and focused. I am the Mama after all. And my kids need me. 🙂
I am not numbers.