First and foremost, thank you to all the readers who reached out to me over the past week and a half after reading the column on "scanxiety."
Many of you had words of support. And the women who have been on this path before sent words of wisdom and strength. I found strength and comfort from each and every one of you.
When I wrote the column on "scanxiety," I had not yet received the results of my biopsies. Let me preface the rest of the column with this, "I learned very important lessons from the journey thus far, and my goal is to save the pain, heartache, anxiety and questions for the next person who may choose not to listen to their doctor."
Having access to one’s patient portal is beneficial and has its advantages. In fact, it’s so easy to use nowadays, that when one is waiting for their results it is difficult to resist the urge to log on. As my anxiety over the results grew, I began to log on every hour (well, maybe more often than that). Not only was I logging on, but my daughters were as well.
Finally! My biopsy results popped up, and I called my daughter Haley. We logged on simultaneously, and as I perused through the first two or three reports, I began to feel pretty positive. Then Haley asked if I had seen the fourth one, and I had not. As I clicked the link to the results, I heard a small voice full of tears whisper, "Oh my God, Mom, I am so sorry."
Lesson Number One:Stay off the patient portal when that is what the doctor has ordered you to do.
Words I never would have thought would be associated to my health jumped off the screen at me. Carcinoma. High nuclear grade. Necrosis. Calcifications. Malignant. Pleomorphic. Lobular cancerization. And the list goes on.
Upon wiping our tears away, Haley and I both sat in silence. Both at work and feeling as if we were millions of miles apart. After a few minutes of shocked nothingness, she wondered out loud if she should quit school and come home. I quickly asked, "Are you nuts?" News like this makes one wonder if school or work is worth continuing with. Of course, it is.
Shortly after we hung up the phone, I received a phone call from my physician who officially gave me the news of breast cancer. I pulled up a chair, lifted my feet off the ground and stared out the window with tears of fear rolling down my face. But then a brilliant idea came to me — I should Google the phrases from my medical report.
Google sent me to sites I had heard were associated with cancer and some sites that were less than reputable. The more I read the more certain I became that death was looming at my door.
Lesson Number Two:Do NOT Google words or phrases from patient portal reports. Just resist the urge.
It was a long wait from the day I received my diagnosis to the day I would spend getting educated on breast cancer, hearing my treatment options and being able to ask questions. The day finally came this week, and I feel much better about knowing my prognosis and outlook along with how we will be treating this cancer.
For the past week, work has flown by, and I don’t remember much day to day, but the foggy state of mind is clearing. This is a challenge I was not expecting, but I rarely back down from a fight. And cancer, you will lose!