By definition, a declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. Well Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 my left breast engaged in violent acts against my well-being. As my daughter was napping (she was 15 months and thankfully still napping twice a day) I finally had the opportunity to shower. I went through my normal routine. Shaved my armpits and then did a breast check. RIGHTY, small but still fighting the good fight. And then I found it. The LUMP. So at first I thought.. “Maybe its an old milk duct just clogged or something” so I tried to pop the lump, feeling fairly confident it truly was just an old clogged milk duct. Well, it wasn’t moving. I jumped out of the shower and called my PCP (not b*tch face doctor I previously mentioned in Why am I at WAR?. I dumped her ass back in 2011). I called my mother-in-law, with a lump in my throat, to ask if she could watch Siena. My husband met me at my PCP’s office. My PCP confirmed the lump and ordered a mammogram for the next day. We then went to my grandmothers, as we always do every week for “Grandma’s Wednesday night dinner” and carried on as if nothing happened. Luckily, February 4th was not marked by a lump. My daughter took her first steps at my grandmother’s house with my whole family to witness it. There is always a silver lining folks.
My sister Vanessa came home to watch Siena on Thursday so Chris and I could go to my mammogram. After SquishFest2015, I headed off to my ultrasound. Just like a prenatal ultrasound, I could see the screen, only this time I could recognize what I was looking at. I could see the “solid mass”. I sat in a waiting room with flooding thoughts as the nurse manager summoned a surgeon.
I’m going to be my true self and tell you what I really was thinking. WARNING: IT WAS NOT PRETTY. I’m really great at looking like I have my sh*t together… or at least I think I look like I have my sh*t together. But things aren’t always as they seem. I first thought about who Chris would remarry after I died. That’s right. I was planning my funeral. I thought about Siena. I couldn’t leave her. This isn’t fair. I started thinking of all those GMO infested snacks and toxic Pumpkin Spice Lattes that I’ve indulged in. I needed to hold someone accountable. I wanted to get to the root of why and how something grew inside me. If you have been in my shoes, you know the waiting game is never one that you are 100% confident on the inside. We might not let anyone else see what’s happening inside our brains. Well I won’t speak for you, but I will say, I could appear to be normal, but on the inside I was having an epic meltdown. It was like I could feel the cancer cloud over my head and BOOM lightening struck. WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT moment number 2 in a breast surgeon’s office.
The nurse manager brought a surgeon to talk to me. They let me know that same day I would be rushed into surgery. I had a needle biopsy and the tumor had a mini clip inserted to mark it. This clip was entered to identify the tumor for future mammograms or incase this bad boy needed treatment. And then after this mini surgery, I would need a new mammogram to have new images on file with that lovely clip present inside my tumor.
The surgery wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was very quick and initially painless. My “need to know” personality flourished mid-surgery:
“So how long have you been a surgeon for?”
“Wow, so you’ve seen enough of these. Does it look like cancer to you?” The surgeon assured me she did not have the superpowers to know and that the pathologist would have to test the sample. I would have to wait like everyone else. I envisioned myself shooting truth serum into her veins so she could forget about liability and just tell me the damn truth. I know, what a psycho!
None of this felt good. My thoughts were not positive folks. That 87% was staring me in the face. I was told I would have to wait 3-5 business days… and well because of the epic snowpocalypse Boston was experiencing… don’t panic, but it could take longer. Having patience is one thing, but being me and having patience is another.
I was advised to organize my cabinets to make the time pass. I snapped at the nurse and said “I don’t think we’ve met. Hi. I’m Kristina and I have a sprinkle closet. My spices are alphabetized and my towels have to be folded a certain way or else my world shuts down. I’m the type of crazy b*tch that watches youtube videos on how to fold a fitted sheet because damn it, I want my linen closet to put Martha Stewart’s to shame. So how dare you tell me to carry on and organize a closet.”
I just said “Okay. Thanks.” and went home and freaked out for 5 days. Remember… I told you I’m really good at looking like I have my sh*t together on the outside, but inside Sybil is having a field day. Over those five days, I woke up my husband at 2 AM each night saying, “Do you think it’s cancer? Do you really think I could get cancer again? C’mon I am so healthy with my habits it’s kind of scary. Right?” Chris gets the privilege of seeing my authentic self. Lucky Chris! Someone buy him a drink already!
I could feel the seconds tick on the clock for those five days. It really is torture to wait, especially if you are super impatient like me. It was my sister Vanessa’s senior week for her college basketball team. I didn’t want her exciting life event to be clouded by me and my solid mass. I had previously organized a group to go to the game and wear personalized t-shirts with her number. I printed her face and mounted her blown up head on sticks to pass out to the crowd. I told you. I love to celebrate, only I couldn’t believe I was cheering her on with icepacks in my bra and medical decisions on my mind. I drove myself insane.
I called my doctor each day to find out if my lab results were in. I was THAT patient for all you medical professionals. On the fifth day, I lost it. I started crying to a nurse on the other end of the phone. “I just can’t wait any longer. I need to know. I need to know if I can go ahead and just have my family grow. I need to know if I can move forward. How do people do this?”
And on the other end, it turns out the nurse personally knew me. Her words were amazing. It’s all I wanted to hear. “Kristina, I’m going to personally make sure you hear your results today.” Ten minutes later, I received a phone call from that same nurse.
“Go grow your beautiful family. It’s benign.”
I fell to my knees in my bedroom sobbing. I proclaimed I wanted to kiss the nurse on the other end of the phone. I temporarily blacked out. SWEET BABY JESUS. I AM SO BLESSED.
I hung up the phone. And then, the guilt rushed over me. Before I could even run upstairs and tell my husband the good news, I couldn’t help but feel for the women that hear the C word after waiting so long. They wait those same painful days and they get the other call. Good LORD. I’m not rubbing it in, but I felt so blessed. I did not take it lightly. Someone up there is watching out for me. But man, I don’t want to experience this again. I don’t to find a lump again. I don’t want to fall under the 87% mark. I don’t want to be defined by my faulty gene. I want to live like everyone else I know that doesn’t think about the 87% cancer cloud following them around.
It’s like God winked at me and said you are now ready for the next step.
BON VOYAGE BOOBS.
I’ve seen campaigns about preserving the breast. “SAVE THE TATAS.”
Well I’m here to tell you my mission is to “SAVE THE WOMAN”. This is a WAR.
I’m no Angelina. There are no assistants, nannies, unlimited financial resources available here. I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, granddaughter and friend. I’m sharing my story in hopes if you or someone you know ever finds themselves in need of a shoulder, an ear, a meal or some words of comfort I will be your person.
My journey does not end the GENErational WAR for us, but my choice to take action after LOTS of research and consultations with various medical experts from the most well-respected hospitals in the world, feels like the most empowering victory I could ever ask for. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s a decision my family supports. I appreciate your support as well.
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. This is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
Ok, Ok I’m not Winston Churchill taking on Germany, but pretty inspiring huh?
This is my call to arms. I envision a day where we are all educated at an early age about what we put in our bodies, on our skin and in our air. Cancer is a disease fed by it’s terrain. I’m not eliminating my chances of ever getting cancer, but I am bringing my risk for breast cancer from 87% down to under 5%. Help me have my vision become your reality. We all know someone who has been touched by this disease. It has destroyed lives. Let’s fight back. Fight for your own health. Each time you put something in your body, have it be taking action in a good way. Don’t let it feed disease. Be your own advocate. And join me when I say “SCREW CANCER AND SCREW FAULTY GENES. You and the fear you have created can take my boobs, but you can’t take my passion for living my best life. ”
BRCA1 messed with the wrong woman. With your support, this is a worth fighting for. THIS IS WAR!