3 Year Cancerversary
This March was my 3 year Cancerversary. I had big expectations to announce my new blog and passion project Purposely Rooted, along with news of another clear mammogram! But not everything goes as planned, especially when you are a cancer survivor.
I will back up a little. As a cancer survivor, my screening protocol includes mammograms and breast MRIs every six months. Each time I get my results back the radiologist’s reading usually says something like: No changes. Large number of suspicious calcifications. My treatment team didn’t seem to worry about the remarks around the calcifications, we had an area biopsied a few years ago and it was benign. Fast forward to this March 8. I had my screening mammogram and waited the uncomfortable five days for the chime on my phone that there were new results in my electronic health record. Usually it’s a good sign when you get the results via your EHR first, that probably means everything is clear. However, this time it included a note that they wanted me to come back in for more images. So a week later I was scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram. The nice thing about diagnostic mammograms is that the radiologist looks at your images before you leave so you have a better idea of what’s going on. So, March 25 I am back to the imaging center for my diagnostic mammogram. Then a ultrasound. Then PTSD really hits me of my first time going through all this during my original diagnosis: the radiologist wants to biopsy two areas because the calcifications were sus.
So, here I am trying not to freak out. I keep telling myself the images haven’t changed over time – that’s good news! They are just being extra careful. At the same time my mind swirling. Do I need more treatment? What should I tell the girls? Does this mean cancer is back? All the questions. I message my breast surgeon to vent, share my nerves and to give her a heads up. The next morning while I was rollerblading in the park with Lucy, she called and helped calm my nerves and said she would keep an eye out for results.
So I went back in for my biopsy on March 29. I know a lot of people think mammograms are uncomfortable. Personally, I don’t mind them because they are pretty quick. But try a 30 minute mammogram while you are being biopsied and can’t move. That is pretty uncomfortable. At the end of the first biopsy my whole upper body is tingling and numb. Thankfully the second area wasn’t in as awkward of a position. The radiologist told me results should be back to my providers in a few days. I was nervous after the biopsy, but at the same time a sense of calm came over me that everything was going to be alright.
On Wednesday morning, March 31, I get a nice quick message early in the morning from my surgeon that the biopsy was benign. Yeeeesssss.
So, now I can relax a little. And actually, although I am not too happy about having seven biopsy markers in my breasts, I hope I don’t continue to get scary readings on my mammogram moving forward. Better safe than sorry right!
And if a clean biopsy isn’t good enough news, there are a few other updates in my life:
- My blog went live this month and I have a few new nutritional therapy clients from my personal network!
- I started as a Class Mentor for a new group of students for the Nutritional Therapy Association. There is so much potential with this group and I am excited on what I can give to them and learn from them.
- I got a new job! I will still be working for Sutter Health, but now working with our Design and Innovation team to expand virtual primary care (Tera Practice). I am really excited about this care model because it includes a physician, health coach/dietitian and case manager. My goal is to expand access to this value-based care model.
- And the girls are going back to school for a starting next week. While the extra time with them has been amazing, I am looking forward to being able to focus on the new job for a few uninterrupted hours a day.
My purposely rooted message for this post
Don’t worry about things you can’t control (or at least try not too). That’s one of the things I learned during treatment, but was soon to forget during this little blip. Stay present, don’t freakout.
What is a calcification?
What is a calcification?
You may have been or will be called back after a mammogram because of a calcification. In fact, they are pretty normal and usually benign. Small calcium deposits are more common after age 50, however those with dilated milk ducts, breast implants or trauma to the breast (like infection, radiation and surgery) could have more than usual. Hopefully you don’t have to be called back in due to a suspicious calcification, but if you do try not to stress, most are benign and part of the aging process.
Remembering a Cancer Warrior
I wanted to devote this blog and take a quick minute to honor my best friend’s mom who passed away recently after a long battle of cancer. She raised a handful of amazing men, and got to watch many of them start families of their own and pass down their family values. Her life was cut short, but that doesn’t take away from the impact she had on her family, on my friend and on me. When I hear of others going through cancer, or passing from it, I kind of lean away from it. It’s scary and I can go to dark places. But unfortunately cancer is an epidemic. It’s not going away. However, hopefully we will continue to find new ways to lessen the prevalence through healthy lifestyles, cleaner environments and both functional and modern medicine. And in the end, I guess its ok for me to be uncomfortable with cancer. We all should be.