Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Ultrasound and Biopsy day

February 4, 2011, Friday

The day has come!! At long last. I've been waiting happily for this day because I can finally clear up my mind of this lump. I can't wait till they tell me they can get the milk out of the cyst sac.

I went to the basement of Harbor-UCLA to get to the breast clinic ultrasound. I was told to register then wait in this tiny waiting area where there were 10 seats for about 15 people waiting. So I squatted along the hallway. It was 8am. I played with my phone, editing all my 215 contacts in my address book because there was no cellphone service/signal in their basement. Arrgh.

Two hours later, I was still waiting. I've already finished eating a hearty breakfast at the cafeteria, walked around, texted and made some calls in the lobby. Still waiting.

I finally went in the waiting room and shared stories with other women waiting for their ultrasound. One young lady, just started losing 25lbs in one month after feeling a lump. One Asian lady was there for a follow up. She had a tumor, it was biopsied and after the needle biopsy, the lump was gone. (I'm sure it was just a cyst). Another younger girl has been there 3 times already. Her cysts keep coming back so she just gets them removed every time. All were benign. A lot of different stories, but none scared me a bit. I was confident mine was just plugged milk like everyone has been telling me. Because I'm breastfeeding. Every where I read, websites say breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer.

There were informational posters about breast cancer, stages, symptoms and treatments, in the waiting room. I read it out of boredom. The terminologies got stuck in my head because I'm naturally drawn to medical lingo. I wanted to be a doctor. I finished Pre-med in college and had one year of med school.

Finally after 4 hours of waiting, my name was called. I changed into a hospital gown and was instructed to lie down. The nurse was very motherly and thoughtful. Checking on me if I was cold or comfortable.

She finally placed the ultrasound probe on my breast where the lump is. She paused and did it again. She then told me to wait and when she came back, there was a doctor. She is a surgeon. The nurse had that worried look on her face as she showed the ultrasound image to the doctor.

The doctor, Dr. Dauphine, told me that the lump looks suspicious. She said she thinks its CANCER. She did another clinical breast exam and she said she can feel some abnormal lymph nodes too, aside from the two masses on my breast. She told me she has to do a biopsy.

The ultrasound of the lump in the 11o'clock position looks like a Mickey mouse image. It has ridged edges and not round at all. Same with the lump in the middle of the breast behind the arreola. She also made me feel the abnormal lymph node. It was hard and a little painful, which I've never noticed before until she showed me.

Uh oh. Then I got scared. I wasn't scared that it might be cancerous. I was scared of the huge needle to be stuck in my breast. And then she explained that one of the risks of the biopsy is having a MILK FISTULA. The needle may hit a sinus that can create a canal on the side of my breast. Milk can start oozing from that canal.

I hesitated if I want to get that biopsy done. I wanted to get dressed, go up the lobby and call Jim to ask his opinion. Or maybe I'll just go home.

But Dr.Dauphine did not even give me a choice to bail out. She said, the risk of milk fistula is lesser than the possibility that it IS cancerous. My mind kept blurring out the word "cancerous". It was like I'm not hearing it. All I was scared of was, the needle, the milk fistula and the possibility that I have to stop breastfeeding my baby abruptly.

It took them only 5 minutes to set up the biopsy equipment, the consent form and arranging for a stat result with the pathology department. The doctor said she is making a special appointment for me the following Tuesday, so the results will be ready by then and discussed with me.

I didn't have anyone with me so the motherly nurse offered to hold my hand while the doctor injects the anesthesia. That was an OUCH! It was an ultrasound-guided biopsy so I can watch whats happening with the needle inside my breast. She was poking the anesthesia needle inside the lump and she said it is definitely solid and not milk or fluid filled.

After I was numbed, there was pressure of something being inserted on the side of my breast and then a click. She did it four times. These were the core biopsy needles. They had to collect four containers to make sure there were enough cells and not have to do it again.

Finally it was over. I was cleaned up of the blood, bandaged and asked to put pressure on the area. I should not use much of this right side arm, where the biopsy was done, like lifting and even opening doors. The motherly nurse hugged me. She said it will be ok. She said she is also a cancer survivor for 10 years now. She said with loving eyes, I'm sorry.

Another nurse, a Filipina, gave me my discharge instructions and led me to the door. She also said "I'm sorry" and opened the door for me and trying to help me carry my stuff. I went on my way to the car starting to digest what had happened.

I went in my car and called Jim. I told him with a straight voice at first that they think it's cancer. I was trying to explain to him the procedures done calmly but then it started sinking in to me. I have cancer. I then started crying.

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