I need a biopsy – May 28, 2015

Biopsy and Results

Open door into the biopsy room (taken from the internal waiting room)
Open door into the biopsy room (taken from the internal waiting room)

It was Thursday, biopsy day, I had breakfast and got to the imaging center at 7:30am.  By 7:45am I was topless, I texted the Hubs <Topless already!>.  I was amazingly calm.  At 8 am they took me into a different room unlike the mammogram rooms, this room had a weird massage table with a hole in it.  I lay on my stomach and my boobs hung through the hole.  A plexi-glass square with a hole in it was used to clamp my right boob in place. There was no escape!

There were two nurses that took several X-rays and moved the plexi-glass around until they found the area they wanted.  Dr.  McAleese arrived later and walked up to my face and said “Are you a real red head?”  I replied yes.

Before moving to the US I never really considered myself a red head, I thought I was a chestnut color.  Ed Sheeren is a red head, a true “ginger” but when I arrived in the US I got compliments on the color of my “red” hair.  Whatever, if Dr. McAleese wants to think I’m a red head, that’s fine.  I’m a reddish brown.

Today I was having a stereotactic biopsy…whatever that was…all I heard was the B-word, biopsy.  I had a mild out of body feeling – I can’t believe I’m lying on a table getting a biopsy for breast cancer.  I had skimmed over breast cancer and biopsy on the Internet, but to be honest, I really didn’t want to know too much, more detail scared me and I just wanted to calmly go through the process. Why worry before I have to.

5-28-15 Stereotatic Biopsy
5-28-15 Stereotatic Biopsy

While Dr. McAleese was numbing the boob area between the plexiglass a nurse stood by me. She rubbed my back and asked if I was okay.  I was quite calm, and appreciated the concern, but I didn’t need it.  Dr. McAleese inserted the needle “How are you doing?” she asked.  “Fine.”  Then, at the same time as the nurse leaned are on my shoulder, the needle went in to get the sample.  Oh, I felt that, it felt very deep, almost into my ribs. I’m sure it wasn’t, but that’s how it felt. I held my breath until the stinging stopped and quietly and internally tried to keep myself calm. And, now I know why the nurse was hanging around; it was to keep me from jumping off the table.  I lay there triumphant, it’s over, I’m done.  Exhale. “Okay, I want to go go in again” said Dr McAleese.  Great.  The second run hurt a little more but was faster and over quickly.  The nurses unclamped me, rolled me over and pressed gauze against the incision for 5 minutes.  I now have the 4mm scar as a souvenir of that whole experience. Recovery was fine, the worst was a single stitch that took ages to dissolve.

I would later find out that Dr McAleese  had removed two thirds of the suspicious area.  After the biopsy I hated her for going back a second time, then when I found out she was trying to get everything during the biopsy, I loved her for trying.

5-28-15 Biopsy location
5-28-15 Biopsy location

It was a couple of months later when the penny dropped regarding my red hair question. Recent reports had indicated that red heads feel more pain.  To me that rang true. I was always the kid that screamed in the playground and melted into a pool of tears. I was always reassured I was fine, it was just a scratch, what an actor, one day you’ll get an Oscar for that performance.

When I was older my mother said she believed I felt pain, but didn’t understand it. I would knock my knee playing and run howling into the house.  My mother said in most cases there would hardly be a scratch, but she said she could see the pain in my face, the real tears streaming down my cheeks, and sometimes I would turn white with shock. My mother was a nurse, you had to be half dead to get a day off school.  So I really appreciated it when she admitted she knew I wasn’t acting.

As I grew up I learned to hold in the pain, sometimes I couldn’t help letting out a yelp. Sometimes I needed to sit down so I wouldn’t pass out or throw up. To be honest, I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between serious pain and “just a scratch” pain. Should I see a Doctor, or will I be okay in the morning.

I didn’t think the stereotactic biopsy was terribly painful, there were a few short sharp seconds, but it was bearable. I’ve since heard that the procedure can be excruciatingly painful for many. I don’t know what to say, may be my tolerance is higher, I’ve got used to my pain receptors being overly sensitive…or may be Dr. McAleese gave me a little more anesthetic.  My advice to you, if a Doctor asks if you are a red head, just say yes!

After I left the office I sat in the car for a few minutes. I snapped out of the shock of the whole ordeal, shuffled the DVDs to Cracker and blasted out any other thoughts and sang “The World Is Mine” as I drove home.

I was told to call on Monday after 2pm to get results.  On Friday (the day after my biopsy) they called to tell me they had found cancer. I have Ductal Carcinoma and need to immediately schedule a consult with my main doctor.

When I was told, all I could say was “Pooh!” then when I got off the phone I made myself an EmergenC vitamin C drink and laughed – like that was going to help get rid of my cancer…

Oh, my God, I have cancer.

My cancer was found on a routine mammogram.

My cancer was not visible via ultrasound.

My cancer was caught early enough that it could not be detected via breast exam.

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