I started sharing my story a while ago….and I still have the copies of what I had written. I’m going to share these now….as it was only a couple years after I was diagnosed and went through treatment, so the feelings and memories are fresh. I’ve told my story so many times….but it’s not the same as when so much time hadn’t passed. Which is GREAT….but you know 🙂
So here it goes…..
Just a little pre-story leading up to when this all started. Adam and I had been together about a year and half, and I’d landed quite the awesome job for the state of Michigan, with the Department of Human Services. Things were going great! The relationship was very serious, and I just knew it would lead to marriage. I was picking up my job pretty quickly, and loved going to work everyday. After being there a few months, I had started to gain weight from my loss of activity in retail, and from my “sittin on my bum all day” in an office setting. I didn’t like the new tummy I had, but for the first time, I had some bigger boobs…haha. It was nice going from almost flat to having a bit of cleavage!!
Well, it all started in August of 2003. My dear sweety went to Maine for the weekend with some friends for a great Phish concert, and I was left alone with our dog, Lincoln. He does make good company! He left sometime during the day, and I had to work, so I had the house to myself that night. I probably stayed up late watching tv, and finally decided to crash. I brought trusty Lincoln with me, defender of the house, and the one who always protects me from scary noises in the home when Adam is gone:) I’ll never be able to explain why I did what I did while lying in bed that night, but for some reason I had an itch. So I itched it. And there it was. A lump. Now of course I was rational about it, and calmly called Adam to tell him of my find. And if you know me at all, you know what a hypochondriac I am, and know that I called Adam already hysterical, and was SURE I was dying any minute!! This was no ordinary lump. I could already tell. A good woman knows how her breasts feel….haha:)
Adam calms me down, and suggests that I make an appointment. Not to go to the ER, but set up an appointment Monday morning. So I was alone all weekend with my fear of dying any minute. Monday at work, I of course told some of my co-workers my fears, and they all assured me that I was waaaayyy to young for something like this, and more than likely, it was a cyst or something that would go away on it’s own. Don’t worry. But go to the doctor. So I called, and got something set up.
Now, just to be truthful, I have copies of my medical records, I’m not really this smart with the dates. After suffering from chemo brain, my mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be….although I can still remember quite a bit:)
On 8/13/03, I went to my gyno’s office to have my little exam. A Dr. Jyung, (not my regular gyno) did the exam. After reassuring me that there was no way I could have breast cancer, and almost dismissing me, he finally referred me to surgeon to have the lump removed. Just to be safe. And that was it. So I set up that appointment. Dr. Hastings is a great man. Smart, and pretty up front. I saw him 8/19/03, and he decided to biopsy the lump before removing it. He wanted to make absolutely sure I was ok. I felt better about him. I still have issues with Dr. Jyung.
So then I had to wait for two days to get results. I left work, with all the encouragement and supportive friends there, telling me I’d be just fine. For some reason, I didn’t believe them. The entire time this was going on, I just had that feeling. It’s hard to explain, and I tried to remain positive for everyone else, but I never honestly believed that anything would be the same.
I saw Dr. Hastings again on 8/21/03, with Adam there. That’s when he told me. I was sitting on the exam table, and Adam was behind me in the corner, on my left. Dr. Hastings sits in front of us, and rather bluntly tells us it is cancer that we are dealing with. Talk about shock! An unusually quiet Katie sat there dumbfounded for a bit, while Dr. Hastings rambled on about something….probably different treatments. Not sure. I asked him for a tissue, cried for a second. Then I heard him talking about surgery and all the fun with that. Then I had my first comment about the whole thing. “You know, I never thought I’d really have a boob job in my life”
You could have pushed the good doc over with a feather. I thought it was funny.
I met Dr. Lester and his wife Audrey that day too. My oncologist and his head nurse. It was a brief meeting, just to meet and get things going.
I called a co-worker and let her know I was full of cancer and not coming back to work that day. She let my boss know. I don’t think I could have told him that myself. Then I called my mom. I was as blunt as Dr. Hastings, “I have cancer”. She laughed, thought I was joking, then when she realized I was serious, started crying. I tried to comfort her. Then Adam and I ate at Nickelsons. It was a great lunch. I was starved. By the way, it isn’t called Nickelsons anymore. Oh well.
So many things happened all at once! The next few days and weeks where such a blur…..there were tests, and more tests, and more tests. Lots of needles, and machines that made loud noises, and even more needles. I felt like a nude model because of how many times I’d enter a doctor’s office, and just throw off my top. My poor boobies never got so much action, haha:) At one point, there I was, lying on a table with my sick boob and my unsick boob all exposed, and there were 3, yes 3 male doctors in the room just looking and making comments. Not to mention that Adam was there, and the female nurse that was running the ultrasound machine. I should have charged for all the times I flashed those babies! Haha.
There was another major thing that happened in all of this craziness:) The Saturday after the diagnosis, and after we met with the oncologist for our first of many big meetings, we made it to Adam’s company picnic. He worked for a very stingy company, but these picnics were great for the drawings. There were a lot of little prizes, but 2 or 3 main huge prizes. We got there right before it started it, got our tickets in, and sat down. Adam was the 2nd one called up. And what did we win????????????? A free romantic weekend get away. I think that is just what the dr. ordered……well, that would have been a nice alternative to what the doctors were really ordering….but it was a great prize!
So during all this stupid medical stuff, we found a time to go have a weekend to ourselves. The trip included a stay at the Park Inn, free dinner at the Pump House Grille, complimentary champagne, free in house movie, and a free breakfast at the Fireside.
We went the last weekend in August, the 31st actually. It was a nice room, and we sipped some champagne in paper cups, went swimming, and then got ready for our big night out. As I was getting ready, Adam interrupted me, and told me that my attire was not complete. I was ticked…..I was going as fast as I could to get ready. He said it again, and I finally looked at him…..he had that look in his eye. All I could think was…..oh no, oh no, oh no……I’d been waiting for this for EVER! And yes, he got down on one knee and proposed! It was great! I was almost speechless…..screaming doesn’t really count as talking! I of course said yes, and we enjoyed our dinner out as a newly engaged couple. The ring was so beautiful, and sparkly:) I actually knew our waitress…..from my days of hanging out with all the Andrews Univ. people. Timea is her name….I hope I spelled it right…, anyways, she was very excited, actually the first person to find out, and she snapped a great picture of us that night:)
of course the next day, we got engagement pics done. Since I was going to be having surgery very soon, and I also was going to be cutting my hair to prepare for the chemo, this was very important to me.
That Wednesday….September 3 I had my surgery. I was terrified. I’d never had surgery before, and never even been knocked out for the dentist. They got me all prepared, and then it was time. The had already given me the knock out combo….haha…the drugs, and I panicked. They hadn’t even asked me to start counting back from10. So I said something as they were wheeling me away…..and they told me, ok, start counting back from 10. That’s all I remember. I didn’t even get to do the stupid count down! Anyways…I guess everything went ok. They removed a lot of my poor left boob, a partial mastectomy. They removed I believe 3 tumors, the largest was 4 cm, and also 18 of my lymph nodes. Come to find out, 13 of those were cancerous. They also put in my double port….which is how they would be hooking me up for chemo, so my veins wouldn’t be ruined. I didn’t handle the anesthesia very well. I ended up having to stay the night.
I was off work all that next week. It was nice being home, but recouping was horrible. I had this bag attached where my lymph nodes were, that would catch all the extra fluid that normally would have been taken care of. Adam had to document how much was in the bag. It was pretty nasty
It was quite a few days before I felt brave enough to take a shower. When I finally did…..it was like heaven! Then I had to get back to work…..and wait for the go ahead for them to start the radiation and chemo.
And next up will be the adventures of chemo! Yes!!
~That is where I stopped. I never kept up the writing….so no adventures in chemo……but I will share what I know later 🙂