2 yrs ago on, August 19th, while taking my husband Jeff to the airport, I received a call from my GP that I wouldn’t truly understand.
I had been undergoing tests for most of the month for what I had thought was a kidney infection. The previous Thursday I had an MRI and was anxiously waiting the results. I was to have knee surgery on the 20th and wanted to know before I went in.
Dr Pitts was trying to be calm and reassuring. She explained the MRI showed a spinal lesion and rib lesions. She explained she needed to consult an Oncologist for what to do next as this was very unexpected findings.
As I was trying to comprehend that she just said Oncologist, she went on to say that I would need a biopsy. She said something about it could be confined to the bone or coming from another site.
I could feel the tears well up in my eyes as my brain was connecting the dots and realized she was talking about bone cancer. I couldn’t breathe.
She told me to have the surgery and that she would call in a few days with the next steps. Whatever that meant.
I honestly don’t even remember the conversation I had with Jeff before he left the car. Nor do I remember driving home. I just knew I now had a huge secret that I couldn’t tell because I didn’t have any answers other than I had Cancer.
My Arthroscopic knee surgery went off without a hitch. It was so odd to me because I was in no pain whatsoever. I was even questioning if the pain meds had even worn off at all. There was no throbbing pain, no uncomfortable feelings in my knee or leg at all. Looking back now, it would see that it was Karma’s way of apologizing for what I would be going thru these next 2 yrs.
I remember on that Wednesday, while my parents were staying with me that I knew I would have to tell them. I was waiting for the Dr to call to tell me these ‘next steps’ and that it would be a difficult conversation to hide. I waited until after we had dinner. I remember telling my folks to sit down that I needed to tell them something. It was so awkward. I told them that the tests I had had so far had indicated that I had cancer but that they were unsure if I had bone cancer or another cancer. I told them about the lesions in my bones and that I was waiting for the Dr to call me back. Their reaction, to me, was off. I had expected them to both be upset. Instead they were a quiet calm and told me not to worry that the Dr’s would get to the bottom of it. WHAT?
August 22nd, my Dr called. Blood work needed to be done before 5pm and she confirmed me for a PET scan on the 28th. She explained that the PET would tell them if there was more cancer and if the spots I had originated from another part of my body. So, I had my Dad take me to do the blood work. I asked what labs they were running and was told in addition to the CBC and Metabolic Pannel, they were testing for CA 15.3. Turns out that tumor marker is mostly for uterine and ovarian cancer.
Friday, Jeff came home. By the afternoon I received notification that my medical chart had an update. I was so confused. Everything was within standard range.
Saturday, August 24th was an awful day. I woke up and my right leg was double in size. I could barely wiggle my toes. I called the Dr on call and was told to go straight to the ER. After a very long ultrasound on my legs I was told I did in fact have a DVT. I had a clot at the top of my calf of the knee that was operated on. I was put on blood thinners and the nurse taught me how to give myself injections in my stomach.
I would learn later that the clot was not necessarily a result of the surgery but because I had cancer.
Two years ago this morning, I arrived for my PET scan at 7am. I went alone. I remember feeling like a lab rat. I was put in a room where they inserted the line where they would inject the radioactive glucose and later the contrast. I remember as I left the Imaging Center, that everything felt surreal. Did everyone know I had cancer? Could they tell by looking at me? Did I look different? Was I dying? How did I get here?
My phone was like a time bomb. At some point it was going to ring. I just didn’t know when. Finally, shortly before 5pm, it rang.
My Dr was very calm. She explained that the PET showed I had cancer in my right breast. But what about the spine and ribs? She told me I’d probably have to have a biopsy to confirm that they were also breast cancer or it could be a different cancer. She wasn’t sure. She told me she would be making appointments for me with an Oncologist and a Breast Surgeon.
I was so confused. How could I have breast cancer in my bones? It would be a few days later before I truly understood the magnitude of what was happening and what it all meant.
Some people remember one specific date as their Cancerversary. The day they were diagnosed. I, on the other hand, have most of August as a remembrance. It starts with the day I went to my GP thinking I had a simple kidney infection and ends with the phone call of my PET scan results.