Interesting Times

Apparently, I’m doomed to live in interesting times.

First, I’m fine. No Evidence of Disease.

Second, until 12:30 today, that was looking doubtful. I had discovered a mass in my left breast,  above and to the left of the site of the original tumor. The risk of recurrence is highest during the first two years following diagnosis. Recurrence within the first two years also has a pretty poor overall prognosis. My breast hurt, a feeling of aching heaviness, along with occasional sharper pains – pretty much identical to the feeling I had with the original tumor. Much as I tried to convince myself that this was likely to be a cyst, or perhaps part and parcel of the lymphedema, or maybe a strange reaction to the course of progesterone (I’m still feeling the effects from that, though thankfully they have lessened) – well, I wasn’t really convinced. Even with an 80% survival rate, someone’s got to be part of the other 20% and I know it could be me.

I found the mass Saturday, when it reached a point where it was clearly palpable – and I kept checking it. It kept being there. To say I was Not Best Pleased is putting it mildly. I really really don’t want my life to be about breast cancer, and I wanted to go to Armenia, and, goddammit, I had already gone through everything and I’d be damned if I was going to do it again, and I’d be damned if I was going to stop estrogen and return to the sniveling wretch sitting on the floor weeping. So, ok, surgery, but no chemo, no radiation, and I continue my estrogen replacement until the bitter end, and how am I going to tell everyone? And the house appraisal Wednesday morning, and the trip to Armenia, and all and all….

I kept busy all weekend, trying not to think, waiting for Monday when I could call. Reset the brick border in the back garden; rented a carpet cleaner and cleaned every rug in my house, moving all the furniture; straightened the box room; cleaned the downstairs mudroom (with the help of Debbie, who has returned from the hinterlands – hooray for Debbie!); moved another 80 pounds of sand; working not thinking – and broke down in tears now and again.

Monday morning, called the hospital first thing, got an appointment for 12:30 Tuesday. Stayed busy as much as possible, not thinking. Everybody dies; at least I don’t have children.

Can I just say that I love Dr. Harlow? Apparently the mass is an area of fat necrosis from radiation – yah, it sounds horrible, but it also sounds a hell of a lot better than ‘recurrence’ or ‘suspicious mass’. The ultrasound showed no areas of concern, no recurrence.

I left with a clean bill of health.

And there was much rejoicing.

And I’m still going to Armenia, so there!

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11 Responses to Interesting Times

  1. Beth says:

    Oh, Meg, thank god. And I wish I had known that was going on for you. Did anyone know? Did Mom? I hope you are not going through this kind of thing alone.
    I am so so glad that you do not have recurrence. So so glad. What a relief. Even though I didn’t know it was such an immediate possibility until just now.

  2. dropjohn says:

    Thank ye gods and little fishes, indeed – that was a wee bit of stress I didn’t particularly need, and it would have utterly *ruined* my travel plans. I was lining up my arguments for continuing ERT as palliative care, and wondering if I should tell Matt to start shopping for a wedding dress.

    I told very few people – Ron, because he’s been coming to most of my medical appointments with me and he needs to know when he can’t rely on me for apartment emergencies; one of my friends who also had Stage One breast cancer; and a friend who’s a nurse. Debbie knew something was awry, but not exactly what – I was teary and overly short on patience (even for me) all weekend.

    For me, the more people I tell, the more ‘real’ it becomes; the more I had to think about it – and until there’s a final verdict, there’s no point in making it more ‘real’ than I was making it already, and I Did. NOT. Want. To. Think. About. It.

    At all.

    Ron offered to come with me to my appointment, but it was easier for me to go alone, oddly enough. If it had been horrible bad news, I would have needed time to process it by myself.

    And it *wasn’t*. “Fat necrosis” – never thought those would be words I’d *like* hearing, but they do have kinda a ring to them, don’t they?

  3. We once had a weekend and more of worry here that turned out to be fat necrosis. Really glad it’s all of our better friend NED. And well done on the rejoicing.

  4. dropjohn says:


    I’m still a bit tightly wound, but the dread is behind me. I’m incredibly grateful they could schedule me in so quickly – the waiting is the hardest part, no matter the answer.

    At least for me.

  5. Carina says:

    The suspense seemed unbearable but great news in the end.
    I never had the feeling of 100% cured…a fear I live with hopefully for not too long.

  6. dropjohn says:

    There’s always the risk – and the suspense was fairly dreadful. Huzzah for good news!

    And here’s to the staff at Fletcher Allen for getting me in so quickly, and putting an end to it. *phew*

  7. Beverly says:

    Oh my, Meg. I completely understand not telling people until you knew more; it would produce a worried kerfuffle around you when you want to think on other things. So good that you had just a few confidants, though. I also feel thankful to Fletcher Allen for getting you in so quickly…now that I know of your dreadful weekend.

  8. dropjohn says:

    I could cast it as not wanting to worry anyone until I knew for sure, but the bald faced truth is that it’s easier on *me* – dealing with my own emotions and decisions around a possible recurrence was hard enough; dealing with other people’s emotions would have been too much. And it was all in my head – not the mass, but the recurrence.

    I can honestly say that there was not a moment of that time that I regretted taking ERT – instead I was grateful that I hadn’t spend the past four months in the depths of misery, I had been my *self*, and I was working on strategies and arguments for continuing ERT in the event of worse case scenario.

    I’ll be sharing that information with my doctor.

    and enough with the medical alerts already! I’ve got to pack for Armenia.

  9. Yay!!! so glad you are doing well!!!

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