Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bringing Back the Blog for a PSA!

I can't believe how long it's been since I even visited my blog.  I'm certainly not going to promise anything.  But I felt so strongly about this subject...and if I can help even one person...

As most of you know, my mom and sister are breast cancer survivor rockstars.  When my sister was diagnosed last spring, my doctors went into high gear.  I got a mammogram - it was not my first.  And like all of the others, it was inconclusive due to the density of my breast - common for someone my age.

Therefore, they recommended a baseline MRI.  This process is not fun, especially for someone that is claustrophobic.  I knew it was necessary so I prepared mentally and spiritually and made it through.  I must admit that I was pretty darn proud of myself.  And then I received a phone call...BEFORE I EVEN MADE IT HOME...that I would have to repeat the test.  Apparently these can only be completed during certain times of your menstrual cycle for complete accuracy, and it wasn't my time.  Three days later, I had another MRI - and they told me that I didn't need any more imaging.  Did I mention that I had this completed in July 2011?

A week ago Thursday, I received a random voicemail from my doctor asking about follow up from the MRI.  There was no follow up.  Apparently the radiologist was reviewing files and contacted her office.  For the first time, we both heard that the MRI showed a suspicious cyst in my right breast.

Next thing I know, I suddenly have an appointment with one of the top breast cancer surgeons at Baptist's Breast Cancer Center.  Everything went through my mind!  I have spent a week with this unknown looming over me.  Many people told me that everything would be fine - honestly, probably not the best thing to tell someone...b/c it may not be the case.  It's an awkward situation and many people don't know what to say.  (Hint - if this happens to someone close to you, some of the best words to hear are...I know this must be so scary for you right now.  I will be praying.  Please keep me posted and if you want to talk about it, I am here for you.)

I did want to talk about it.  It was such a relief that I had a sweet friend that came to my house spontaneously on more than one occasion so I could cry or just talk.  She even went through worst case scenarios with me.  It helped.  It helped to prepare mentally for the fight that might be ahead.  Everyone is different, but this was most helpful for me.  This and lots of prayers from other people and my own prayers.

Two days before my appointment, I received more calls from the office.  I was scheduled for yet another diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound before the appointment.

It was a huge relief to find out that yes, there are cysts that show up on everything, but normal and benign.  I was referred to a genetic counselor.  Once that appointment is scheduled, I will be tested for the BRCA gene.  I will be taking my mom with me as well.  We were relieved when my sister was tested last spring and her test was negative.  However, it was explained to me today that mom may carry the gene anyway and it could have skipped my sister.  It's still a scary unknown, and I was told today that regardless of test results, I am in the high risk bracket and always will be.

Today, I'm celebrating the good news!  I'm trying to do anything and everything to encourage all of my family and friends to always go for screening.  It's no fun but seriously - it's just a few minutes out of your life...and it could possibly save your life.  Just cherish every moment - and just for me, make your hugs a little tighter and linger a little bit longer today!