Highly Probable. Dark Humor. Can My Cat Handle This?
40 years old here. Went to the gynecologist for my first routine since the start of Covid on 4/14. (I had Covid/pneumonia Feb '20 and I was not messing around with the indoors. I figured my ovaries and my breasts could wait it out.)
My excellent doctor found a lump at 12:00 in my right. Immediately scheduled a mammogram/ultrasound.
I manage to make it to the hospital for the imaging a couple days later. After being in hysterics for the entire procedure, sobbing, crying, making everyone's job hard to do, the Director of Radiology who reviewed my images got on the personal cell phone of the ultrasound tech and our convo was:
"In my experience, the mammogram and the ultrasound do not look good."
"Okay, so what are the chances here that this is not cancer? 50/50? 60/40? 70/30? Cancer's favor of course."
"It is highly probable that it is cancer."
"Is there a chance it's not?"
"Well. How big is it?"
"Are my lymph nodes swollen?"
"Okay. Well. I guess that's good."
"In my experience though, I believe you'll do well."
"Thanks for talking to me."
"Doctor, if you ever want to switch careers, you have a terrific radio host voice."
"I'm normally funnier than this but you've caught me at a bad time."
My brain defaults to humor as a coping mechanism once I've entered the darkest reaches.
I'm not really expecting anything other than cancer at this point. I don't really feel like the Director of Radiology would stick her neck out like that for me unless she was certain.
Now. Here's where I get nuts. I'm from a scientific background and I figured I could sort through non-filtered Google and come up with my statistical likelihood of cancer subtype, survival rate, treatment options, the whole works, in an effort to feel like I've got this...which is what the people who I've told have told me. Turns out younger women seem to have tougher times. More aggressive subtypes. I didn't think I was particularly young anymore but it turns out in Cancerland I guess I still am.
I've also been a fairly intense hypochondriac my whole life. My first girlfriend died of ovarian cancer at 27 years old. That left me pretty terrified of cancer. As the years passed and I thought it more practical to focus on my heart. Mom had 2 strokes before 50 and a heart attack that resulted in 11 stents before 60. Pop's got high cholesterol and is on the statin/beta blocker combo. I figured my genetics were gunning for my heart; the family tree was ripe with that fruit. There was nothing cancerous. In any organ. On both sides of the family.
But now here I am. Highly likely to have breast cancer at 40.
I've lurked on a couple of forums over the past few days and seen a lot of tough stories. I'm picturing the surgeon opening me up expecting a nice, breezy operation that she can wrap up in time for lunch, only to find a can of cancerous worms jumping up from under my nipple and around the bend like Tremors. Maybe even a few giant tumors growing into my chest wall. 150 positive lymph nodes. The works.
Like I said, I go to the dark reaches.
After a few days of mental self-torture I hear from my gynecologist once she has my imaging and report in front of her and she tells me:
"I've seen a lot of cancer. This is not going to kill you."
I break down and cry. I want to believe her. So badly.
I want to believe I'll be able to be strong. Find the inner warrior. Make it through the worst and come out on the other side my very best. Live a long life and put it all behind me. It just seems more like I'll end up being thought of when my friends hear the Billy Joel song playing on the juke at the bar. And I'm not even that good!
And what the hell is my cat supposed to do? She expects the playtime before bed. She doesn't like it when I lay around. She's high maintenance. I have my doubts about her ability to adapt.
My biopsy is Monday, 4/25.
If you've got this far, thanks for reading.