I got the call on Friday to say the surgeon wants to see me. She had my biopsy report. I knew that things probably weren’t great. I was expecting to hear that I had an infection or maybe a cyst. It was now Monday. I had spent the weekend trying not to think about the ” what if’s ”. I was called into the surgeon’s office and I sat down across from her. Without looking at me or making any eye contact at all, she opened a file and started to read the findings of my biopsy. I heard her say ” your tumour is cancerous. It is 13 x 7 centimetres . The cancer is in Situ, Stage 0, but because of its size and the fact you have abnormal discharge leaking from your nipple, we will need to perform a mastectomy.
Excuse me, I have what? And you are going to do what?
At this point she looked up and said she would set up an appointment to see a plastic surgeon and her office would call me. There may have been a few more words, but not many and I was so stunned that I don’t remember much else. I was numb. I might as well have been told I had an ingrown toenail. There was no discussion, no warmth or compassion….hell there wasn’t even eye contact. I left her office and drove home to start breaking the news to my family and friends. I don’t remember the drive home…I was in shock. What the hell was happening?!?!
That night was an emotional roller coaster and a bit of a blur. The next morning I called my family doctor and told the receptionist I needed to see her asap! That afternoon I was in her office waiting quietly in the examination room. She came in and said ” Hi Patti, what brings you here today?” At that point I lost it. I felt all the fear and anxiety that I had been trying so hard to repress well up and cover me like a giant wave that was pulling me under water and not letting me breathe. I was a mess. I felt so bad for my doctor. She had no idea the news I had been given the day before. I kept apologizing for crying. And she kept reassuring me that it was ”ok”. Once I pulled myself together I brought her up to speed on the last few weeks. I had come to her a few weeks earlier when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was having a heart attack, but then realized it was my breast and not my chest that was hurting. At that point I saw too that there was bloody discharge coming from my nipple and knew something was amiss. She immediately got me in for a mammogram, ultrasound and an appointment with a surgeon, who ordered an MRI and then a biopsy. Unfortunately she had not been kept in the loop and was shocked at the news. I also shared with her how I was told and how ”cold” I had found the surgeon to be.
”I realize”, I said ”that it is not their job to comfort me or show emotion, but some eye contact would have been nice”. My doctor understood exactly what I meant.
”You need to feel comfortable and confident with your surgeon and the plan that they have for you. I would be happy to refer you to another surgeon. How would you feel about going to the Juravinski Cancer Centre? I can refer you to a fabulous surgeon there. They work as a team and all they deal with is cancer!” I felt a huge weight being lifted off me. I could breathe and I felt that I now had some control. My doctor also gave me a prescription for Lorazepam, a drug to take if I had another panic attack like the one she witnessed in her office. I am not someone who pops pills and my doctor knows that. But she reassured me that having the Lorazepam with me would be a good thing in case I ever needed them…and reminded me that my journey was only beginning so I may experience another episode and that the pills would help. Little did she know that those pills would be put to the test sooner than later.
Within two days I had an appointment with a surgeon at Juravinski. What a difference!!!!
My journey had begun.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.