Dear, You Have A Little Bit Of Cancer

I wanted to get my boobs done. After 5 kids, breastfeeding, and the typical crisis of a woman of a certain age range, I simply wanted a tummy tuck and a boob job. In fact it took years before I was emotionally ready for those, even though it’s what I really, really, really wanted.

I wanted to improve them, not remove them.

The plastic surgeon said a mammogram was required to check the walnut-sized lump in my left breast before he’d proceed.

I’m not an idiot, by the way. It had none of the hallmarks of cancer (it grew and shrank during my menstrual cycle, it throbbed, wasn’t hard, there were no changes to the skin, and no fluid from my nipple) so I was completely unconcerned.

I have never been afraid of getting cancer. For me, it was a given: Someday I would get some kind of cancer. Actually, I’ve recently been worried about uterine cancer. Woops. I thought it was the bits, but it turns out it was actually one of the pieces.

It’s super lame, my breast cancer. It is. The exact one I have is. It won’t kill me for years unless it has already traveled. It’s technically a possibility, though highly unlikely. But the long and short of it is that this most visible hallmark of my femininity is going to (most likely) be removed, down to the muscle, from my armpit down, and I’ll (again, most likely) lose most of that skin and the nipple. I may not be able to reconstruct them, and they certainly won’t look like what I wanted when I brought my very realistic expectations to the plastic surgeon. And to keep things symmetrical, I might have to get rid of Yin to match Yang.

This is the report from the radiologist. I can’t decide if I wish I’d seen it earlier or not.

DIGITAL DIAGNOSTIC BILATERAL MAMMOGRAPHY

INDICATION: Left breast mass.

Digital images were analyzed by computer-aided detection followed by radiologist review.

FINDINGS: There is a spiculated approximately 4 cm mass in the upper outer left breast containing some
calcifications and radially oriented densities. This corresponds to area of palpable complaint. The
breasts are otherwise considerably heterogeneously dense which we expect to lower the sensitivity of
mammography for the detection of cancer. There is asymmetric density in the retroareolar and lateral
right breast without spiculation or calcifications but sufficiently abnormal to warrant MRI scan based
on the findings in the left breast.

LEFT BREAST ULTRASOUND

TECHNIQUE: Ultrasound of the left breast with real time image documentation in the area (s) of concern
was performed.

FINDINGS: Directed sonography at the 12:30 position, 4 cm posterior to the nipple reveals a 3.6 x 3.4 x
2.4 cm hypoechoic irregular mass with abnormal shadowing highly suspicious for malignancy.

RIGHT BREAST ULTRASOUND

TECHNIQUE: Ultrasound of the right breast with real time image documentation in the area (s) of concern
was performed.

FINDINGS: The patient describes some clinical concern at the 10 o’clock position of the right breast
and sonography of this area fails to reveal cysts, hypoechoic mass or abnormal shadowing.

IMPRESSION:

1. Findings highly suspicious for left breast malignancy – this would be amenable to ultrasound-guided
biopsy.
2. Heterogeneously dense right breast and despite negative sonography MRI scan should be considered.
3. Call report was made by me to Dr. XXXXX who requested that the patient be sent to his office for
review of results although I have explained that the mammogram is highly abnormal.
4. Results and recommendations were reviewed with the patient who verbalized understanding.

BIRADS 5 HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE OF MALIGNANCY

Screening mammography is an important aspect of breast healthcare. A negative mammogram cannot exclude
the presence of cancer, particularly in dense breasts. Therefore, healthcare provider exam and monthly
self-exam are also important. Since some cancers might not be detected by mammography, a clinically
suspicious area should be considered for biopsy.

Thank you for trusting {radiological center} with your referral. If you are a Health Care Provider and would like to speak with a Radiologist concerning this exam, please call xxx-xxx-xxxx.

05/21/2015 03:01 PM
XXXXXX XXXXXXXX, MD
NMB / 05/21/2015 03:52 PM

I have Invasive Ductile Carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer. It is estrogen & progesterone receptive, meaning it feeds on the hormones that keep me balanced & girly, so I’m going to have what sounds like chemical menopause, except that it’ll be immediate. My feelings on that subject are decidedly not positive. It is slow-growing and non-aggressive. It’s the lamest cancer I could’ve gotten, really. An old lady cancer. I’m not even 40.

When good breasts go bad.
When good breasts go bad.

All I really wanted was to feel beautiful. Amputation, radiation, chemotherapy. These are not beautiful.

But whatever. It seems like it’d be more worthwhile if I lost them in battle. If only this were truly deadly. It’s the pound of flesh I owe, I suppose, for my vanity when I’ve been such a hot bitch all along.

So that’s the story, morning glory.

Any questions?


10 thoughts on “Dear, You Have A Little Bit Of Cancer

  1. First, I love you. Second- you’ve got this, and you have a lot of people who have your back. I wish I had something a lot more witty and snappy to say, but I don’t. So a big giant FU to cancer.

    Much love
    Your sister from a whole other gene pool

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love you Lexa! You have to stick around for many years to come, YOU are in charge of MY funeral. I can’t count on anyone else to do what I want. Menopause isn’t quite so bad. I went into it naturally at age 39. The doctor wanted to immediately start me on estrogen but I cannot take it because of the type of breast cancer my mom had. I’ve been sending good vibes your way daily ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I sit here at 1:05am expressing milk from my beautiful producers, I can’t help but think of the research supporting breastfeeding and that it can decrease the chances for breast cancer. I know you breastfed those babes. Did you ask the doctor about that? Are they positive it is not a clogged duct?! 😜 Can I just say…. I am so over breastfeeding!!! Who decided breast was best?! On another note… I have seriously thought about flying in for your birthday! If I didn’t have to make the milk, I would so do it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alas, it is indeed cancer. I nursed the kids for approximately 55 months in total. Yes, that’s 4.666 years! Keep nursing that cute, chubby Indian baby! If you want to pop in, YES!!!!

      Like

  4. Lexa, Don’t know if you will remember me, I am Jeni’s mom. Just wanted to let you know that I am pulling for you. Attitude means a lot and you have that in spades!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lexa, You have always been beautiful inside and out regardless of feeling it or not, and your beauty will continue to grow and change along with the journey life has given you. I love you tons and would do anything you need! I will say, the irony is a bit hard to swallow, as you have separated yourself from so many things considered common by never fearing to follow your own ideas, beliefs, and desires! Keep it up; we are just getting started! Happy Birthday! Sending much love from OK!

    Liked by 1 person

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