“Sorry I have so little mammo to gram,” I joked with my last mammogram technician. “No worries,” she said, maneuvering my tiny breast onto the bottom plate of the mammogram machine. “We actually see them smaller than this.” I marveled at the possibility as I inched closer to the machine—for the third time—while an image of a female Stuart Little getting a mammogram distracted me from the pain of my own wee little breast being flattened.
With the fact firmly established that my boobs, when I had them, were minuscule, the obvious question then is, “How do you miss 10 invasive lobular carcinoma tumors in a breast that barely fills out a nearly-A cup bra?”
Well, I did. So did my gynecologist and the highly skilled techs who had been reading my mammograms for the six years I’d gotten them.
Two years ago, when I was 46, I was up at Lake Tahoe for a late-season ski trip with my new boyfriend of two months. While taking a shower in our cozy, mouse-infested cottage, I noticed a hard lump in my right breast. It was the size of a Le Sueur early pea. Long story short, the pea was a calcification, but it introduced me to the 10 cancerous tumors that had been growing in the upper left quadrant of my right breast. “Wow. That is one mystical pea,” said my best friend Sharon.
That pea alerted me to my cancer before it could spread to my lymph nodes. What followed were an ultrasound, a core biopsy, a double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, reconstruction and everything in between.
And that’s my story in a nutshell.
I wanted to keep this first post short and laser focus on the importance of checking out that small, little voice in your head that says, “something’s wrong.” I did, and I believe it saved my life. Some would say I found my cancer “late,” (heck, I had 10 tumors growing in me), but thanks to the mystical pea and the little voice in my head, I found my cancer at Stage I (no lymph node involvement and the biggest of the 10 tumors being under 2cm in size).
I also listened to that little voice last week when I had some alarming post-menopausal bleeding. (I haven’t had a period since my first A/C chemo-tini in August 2006.) I called my oncologist who ordered me a pelvic ultrasound for next Tuesday. I’ll let you know what they find. They don’t think it’s uterine cancer; they think I have too much estrogen in my body and that the level means I’m actually perimenopausal instead of postmenopausal. Will let you know. Meanwhile, say a little prayer. I’d appreciate it big.
Jenni Ballantyne of The Comfy Place introduced me to Susan of Toddler Planet, so here I am. In the company of all these cool women writers, I feel like I’m sitting at the cancer equivalent of the cool kids’ table. I’m honored to share this space with you.
Peace to you,
By way of introduction, I’m a 48-year-old working, single mom, whose marketing job and two teen/preteen kids are seriously interfering with her blogging. Time is tight, but I’ll post when I can and respond as soon as I am able. You can also read more of my incredibly compelling story in the 2007 archives at my blog, Reconstruct This…