Designer Genes, Celfies, & Other Pressing Matters


So several people have asked me how my lump was discovered and more info regarding my prognosis and treatment plan.  I honestly don’t know exactly when it was that I first noticed it, but I discovered my lump. It is situated right at the base of my armpit and I felt it one day as I was shaving under my arm.  I didn’t think much about it because it was located right where the underwire of this industrial strength bra I wore stopped and rubbed me miserable on both sides.  I stopped wearing said bra, and once I did the spot got smaller. I never considered it could be cancer, I had my children young, breast fed both my kids, I had gotten a little fluffy but wasn’t obese, and I was active and had a reasonably healthy diet. Not to mention I was too young for breast cancer, once you factored in all the things above that reduced my risk, right. That last thought was shot to pieces when a friend and classmate got diagnosed at 26! (Read her story here at  I still didn’t treat it as an urgent matter and waited for an appointment with my OB/GYN in Georgia, that saw me when I was preggie with M.

I went in for an annual checkup and casually mentioned the tic-tac sized knot, she felt around, rolled it between her fingers and asked me a few questions about if I was sick recently. We talked about how big the kids have gotten, and she ever so subtly implored me to bless the world with one more baby.  Casually she mentioned that she’d schedule me a mammogram appointment for the next morning, 35 is a good age to start them anyway she said, and ” Better safe than sorry, it’s probably nothing, but anything in the breast they’re probably going to want to biopsy.”

Next morning, I’m sitting in a lobby full of women in little half-length hospital gowns watching “Love It or List It ” (I hate that show.) Then I experienced a mammogram in all its awkward lifting, plopping, unnatural contorting, and squishing glory.  Y’all it’s 2016, and you mean to tell me no one has come up with a better, less ridiculously painful way to image breasts? HMMMPHH! So yes, there’s a spot, which means they did an ultrasound, the Radiologist isn’t a fan of what he saw. “Well, it’s looking a little jagged, so to be safe we’re going to do a biopsy, but you’re young, and healthy with no family history so it’s probably nothing.”

A week later I’m back for a biopsy, the Radiologist was excited to have a patient eager to watch the biopsy as it happened, and quizzed me on some anatomy.  I was assured that I was by far the coolest patient in the world as we looked at the tissue sample he’d collected, then as we wrapped up he said, “Nice to meet you, the results will take a few days, it’s probably nothing major, you’re young and healthy.”

Well, we all already know it was not probably just nothing.  After getting the diagnosis the next step was to see a breast specialist. I remember calling to schedule the appointment, not quite yet having wrapped my head around the whole thing. Everyone on the phone was so genuinely nice, but they scheduled my consult a week out. A WEEK!!!  I originally convinced myself it was because the Dr. reviewed my report and saw that it wasn’t anything too serious, until I got to thinking it could also be because I was a lost cause and there was nothing they were going to be able to do for me. (Remember, overactive imagination.)

giphy (1)cookie monster

So, I am finally at the consult and all of the staff are phenomenal. I am assigned a patient navigator that is a 14-year breast cancer survivor and she gives me her phone number to call whenever I start to lose my mind or have questions, and she gives me the scoop on how the appointment is going to.

I took my mom with me for moral support because at this point I had no idea what the prognosis was going to look like. My doctor came in and introduced herself and asked some background questions, then she spent the next hour and a half explaining my cancer and treatment options.  Not going to lie, I totally geeked out as she “Bill Nye-d” every detail of my cancer from cell receptors to genes.  She drew pictures and made notes, all while writing upside down so that it was right side up for me.  Have you ever tried writing upside down?  My confidence in her surgical skills totally increased.

All done upside down.

So the cancer is stage I grade 2, and a lumpectomy and hormone therapy is the recommended route for treatment. I was encouraged to get genetic testing due to my young age at diagnosis. The visit ended with a manual breast exam and when she found the lump, she was amazed at how tiny and superficial, and commented that my cancer did the “polite” thing by manifesting where and how it did, because I would never have found that in my sized jubblies (not a direct quote).  Armed with some information, my hospital provided breast cancer guide book, and a plan I felt a little better.

I still had an MRI and genetic test results to receive. The MRI test found no additional growth in either breast and the genetic test came back negative for the big cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 and four others. I opted to have the full panel of genes screened and every single one associated with cancer risk was negative. Praise the Lord!

tumblr_inline_nqugi3R5nI1t80gtk_500 willsmith

That does however leave me to wonder what is behind this sneaky little booger, but for now I am going to focus on healing and steps to help prevent recurrence.


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