Now that we are in the month of May and I look back on what a whacky time April was for me, it is almost hard to believe so much can transpire in 30 days. My wedding anniversary is March 29, ok that is the end of March and not April but stick with me here. Tuesday March 29th was not only my wedding anniversary but also the day of my annual mammogram this year. I get annual mammograms because there is a strong family history of breast cancer and after 40 it is recommended. Although I am only 41 this was in fact my 5th mammogram as I had a baseline at 36 (after my first child was born) and they found there was a lesion in my left breast that needed to be monitored but I was assured it was nothing of consequence. I am a woman of action and pro-activity so being a mother of 2 children, I found it prudent to be on top of my health which includes mammograms.
Now back to Tuesday March 29, 2016 which was supposed to be a joyous day as I was celebrating my wedding anniversary to my husband, whom I adore and am grateful for. There is always a lot of anxiety for me before going to do the mammo, not because it hurts (it is somewhat uncomfortable) but because I am ALWAYS fearful this time will be the time that they actually find something of concern. My husband assures me that nothing bad can happen on a day of celebration. I concur.
It is now 6 hours post-mammo and I get the call…”Sherri, the radiologist has reviewed the films and determined it needs to be biopsied” – HOLY SHIT this was actually happening?
I now needed to start getting into “Sherri action mode” as I call it when there is a crisis and get things taken care of. Truthfully, I did not have much time to process as I was told to call The Breast Centre right away and schedule the biopsy. In fact, it did not work that way. It was my surgeon, the incredible Dr. Roger Fenster that would be handling my case. I felt some comfort in this as he truly is a wonderful and caring physician.
Tuesday April 5th my husband and I met with Dr. Fenster – and as I waiting with bated breath those 7 days until I saw him, my entire life plan flashed before my eyes. I am a mother of two young children & I have a business that is beginning to take off. Not to mention a lifetime of life events that I wanted to enjoy with my husband. My promises needed to be fulfilled. OK, perspective. There was nothing I could do until my appointment and who knows? There could be a different outcome, maybe the radiologist was incorrect?? So many mixed feelings. Many. Dr. Fenster explained that it would be best to go to the Breast Centre at the Jewish General Hospital to complete the biopsy. He did however feel confident that it was benign as this lesion had not changed since 2011 but really, nothing makes a whole lot of sense when we are talking about the potential of breast cancer. NOTHING.
Tuesday April 12th I have my appointment at the Breast Centre and thinking it will be a biopsy, it turns out that it is only an ultrasound as they want to review and be CERTAIN a biopsy is required as they try not to do anything invasive unless absolutely necessary. My heart was racing; I tried not to cry and tremble with fear – remain stoic. The family already had so much to deal with. There I lay on a hospital bed, covered with a towel and sheet over my bare breasts while I waiting for the Radiologist to come in. The incredible staff & head nurse came into the room a couple of times to comfort me – did I seem like I was losing it? I try to believe that they are just that compassionate. The Radiologist came into the room, explained why an ultrasound would be needed and what the recommendation would be. So I contorted my body a bit so they could see the lesion properly and after what felt like an eternity, this Radiologist confirmed as well, that yes, a biopsy was REQUIRED. I swallowed hard so I would not cry and accepted his decision; cleaned myself up, go dressed and went to meet my husband in the waiting room. I had to tell him, my sweet husband that a biopsy was needed, the very real possibility was now in the room – I could have breast bancer. Another waiting game, it was said that it could take 2-3 weeks to get another appointment and have the biopsy.
More waiting. More time inside my head with all the fears; another moment to have to figure out a way to tell my parents that their daughter was facing the possibility of being diagnosed much in the way my mom was, twice, with breast cancer. That is not a conversation you ever want to have with your parents. EVER.
Once I came to terms with it all, I reminded myself that life was precious and we don’t have control of things and really, I do not know what the outcome will be. This is when my positive spirit and attitude I apply to all things came charging back. There was nothing to worry about until there WAS something to worry about.
Tuesday April 24th was the scariest day of my life, I was going to go in for the biopsy and have to wait, again, for results. My life was going to change forever. Either way, it was going to change. I was either going to find out that the lesion had a strong possibility of being cancer or IT WAS NOT. I prayed a lot. I lay awake for 14 nights wondering what was next. But that TUESDAY was the day! This time, something felt different and the Radiologist was more confident in me and in what he saw. The procedure took 30 minutes and was over. After another mammo and another 10 minutes, he told me – “Sherri, this does not look like cancer. 95% this is NOT cancer.” Go, live your life with your beautiful family and rejoice. Don’t waste a minute not living your amazing life.” The tears flowed, with joy this time! My life was spared. I went out to my husband and shared this incredible news! We embraced and then I went on with my day. I told the people in my life the wonderful news but somewhere in the back of my mind I did not feel absolute comfort until pathology would confirm 100% that it was benign.
On May 2nd I got the very best call of my 41 years – SHERRI, YOU DO NOT HAVE CANCER. IT IS CONCLUSIVE. I am still not sure that I have processed everything that happened in a 30 day period. This is what I do know, life is so fragile and can change in an instant.
All the tremendously wonderful things that were happening in my life were reminders that we must LIVE. Live each day and LOVE with complete and absolute abandonment. My children were not made aware of what I was dealing with but perhaps they sensed that my hugs were tighter and my love was greater!
My lesson that I want to share is twofold: 1 – always take care of your body and do what is necessary to ensure you get ahead of anything potentially dangerous. 2 – be happy with your life, loved ones and appreciate all the good that surrounds you.
I wake up each day and thank G-d and take stock of what I have to be grateful for. I did this before but now I do it a little more.