Three days after my mammogram last spring David and I met with a surgeon for preliminary discussion about my mammogram results. With a serious expression on his face, he rated my newly-discovered mass a 5 on the “suspicious scale” of 1-5, giving even more power to my new ominous enemy. This rating was due to the lump’s size and my family history.
My initial oncology appointment was therefore made that very day, even before my biopsy was scheduled. There seemed to be a sense of urgency. Perhaps doctors have some kind of intuition about these things, although of course he emphasized the oncology appointment could easily be canceled if it was found to be unnecessary should my biopsy result turn out to be negative. Somehow I knew right then and there we would not be canceling it. Women have intuition too.
Of course, my biopsy did reveal cancer and we were able to keep that oncology appointment the day after I received the phone call confirming my cancer diagnosis. Things were on a roll, so to speak, and I entered the cancer “treatment tunnel” literally walking around in a daze as I also began the process of trying to soak up volumes of information and trying to compile lists of intelligent questions.
When I walked through the doors of my oncologist’s office that day, all I could think was, “I can’t believe I need an oncologist.” That would mean I have cancer. “You do have cancer,” I had to tell myself over and over again. I couldn’t quite fathom this new reality. I guess at that point I was still a bit in denial.
As I studied his neatly framed certificates on the wall and looked around the room while sitting there fidgeting on my chair under the buzzing florescent lights, I had the uncanny feeling of deja vu. Just a few short years ago I had been sitting in a similarly appointed oncology exam room discussing my mother’s cancer with her oncologist. How could this be happening to me already?
Many things were discussed that day, but the main decision agreed upon by all was the need for me to be immediately tested for the BRCA 2 gene mutation. Since my mother was a carrier of this mutation, I had a 50-50 chance of having it as well. The result of this test would determine my future. A positive result would mean a bilateral mastectomy unless I truly wanted to tempt fate. If positive, odds of a recurrence within five years would be extremely high. On the other hand, a negative result would mean being treated like the general population of women with a lump of similar size and a lumpectomy would be a possibility.
The test result would take about two weeks to come back. We had two weeks to contemplate and prepare ourselves for whatever the future held. Suddenly a great deal was riding on this simple blood test.
Next we needed a consultation with a general surgeon who would be performing the procedure; we just didn’t know for sure which procedure it would be yet. In addition, we also now needed to speak with a plastic surgeon just to be prepared, of course, for the possibility of the mastectomy scenario coming true. I never envisioned myself needing a plastic surgeon, but then I never envisioned myself with breast cancer either.
David kept telling me we needed to wait for the test results and see what happened, but somehow I already knew what the results would be. Again, women have intuition.
Have you ever had intuition about a test result that turned out to be accurate?
- Resiliency On Tuesday I completed my sixth...