So what is this blog even about? When did this all start?
At the end of February, I made an appointment with a new gynecologist – Ilene Fischer at NYU. Matthew and I had decided that we did not want to have any more kids (our apartment is full) so I wanted to switch from an OB/GYN to just a GYN. While talking about my medical history I mentioned that my mom had breast cancer at 50. Dr. Fischer asked me if I had ever had any genetic testing and suggested that I do a blood test to see if I have any mutations of the BRCA gene – even though my mom is negative.
Also – A few months ago I had noticed a lump in my left breast. It felt like a marble was stuck under my skin. After doing some googling – the fact that it felt round and was mobile led me to think that it was probably just a cyst. When Dr. Fischer felt it, she said that it didn’t seem super suspicious but it was worth getting it checked out. She scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound for the following week.
During the next week, Dr. Fischer called to let me know that I was BRCA1+, which means that I have a very high risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. She recommended that I meet with a breast surgeon, gynecologic oncologist and genetic counselor to discuss my options for preventative surgery. I made the necessary appointments.
The results of my mammogram and ultrasound came back as inconclusive and the doctor recommended that I schedule a biopsy for the following week. On March 25th, while walking to pick up one of my students from school, I got a call from Dr. Fischer that the cells taken during the biopsy were cancerous. My first response was “okay – what do I do now?”. Dr. Fischer told me that she is going to try to move up all of my appointments and get me in to see the right doctors ASAP.
Two days later I met with Dr. Deborah Axelrod, a breast surgeon at NYU. She explained that I have Triple Negative Breast Cancer that will be treated with a double mastectomy followed by chemotherapy. The news was shocking but somehow I was still okay. We talked about reconstruction and I met with plastic surgeon Dr. Mihye Choi who assured me that my boobs will look better than ever when this is all said and done. I scheduled my surgery for the beginning of May.
Throughout my meetings with Dr. Axelrod and Dr. Choi I couldn’t tell exactly what their attitude was about my prognosis. Is this really serious? Did we catch it early? Am I going to be okay? During my meeting with Dr. Choi she was so focused in explaining my what my nipples would look like after surgery like that I stopped her and said, “If you’re so worried about my nipples, I shouldn’t be worried about dying right?” She laughed.
After another ultrasound and MRI, I met with my oncologist, Dr. Sylvia Adams. She told me that my tumor had grown almost a full centimeter in less than a week. Because of this, she recommends that we start my chemotherapy treatments as soon as possible. It was during this conversation that it really hit me that this is my new reality and it’s all starting right now. It was easier to plan for a surgery a month away. I understand surgery and I can predict what the recovery will be like. Chemo feels like a whole different animal. I don’t know how I will feel – will I feel tired? Nauseous? Will I feel okay enough to keep working? What about the boys? Can I still bring them to school and play with them at the park? I don’t have any answers to these questions and for someone who lives and dies by a plan and a schedule this is the hardest part.
From March 25th-April 3rd every day has been filled with doctor appointments, every conversation has been about cancer and treatments. I almost can’t remember what we talked about before cancer. Matt and I have absorbed so much information and the truth is, it is exhausting. We have had to call friends and family to share this news and it feels like were dropping bombs on everyone. It’s awful. But we’re doing okay. We’re taking everything step-by-step and supporting each other through this whole thing. We’ve got this.