I wouldn't have believed you had you said a year from now you will be diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ or DCIS for short. I mean let's get real! 2021 is OUR year, MY year! We paid our dues through Covid and surviving the Texas Winter Storm, I was in the clear and ready for some big things to come.
February 21st I turned 39 and never had I imagined that big thing would be a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 39 with no familial history. Tell that to someone that only knows how to go, go, go and as someone who has life defining moments by following my intuition this one might rank #1.
Honestly, writing up this blog I still can't believe it. I had no more room left for heartbreak and yet life doesn't stop for anyone and it doesn't take a tally as to how much heartbreak you can take. So let me take you back to the beginning because if this can inspire anyone to do their regular breast checks then I've done good.
I would say late January, early February I started feeling this "thing" on the left side of my breast. It felt so gradual that I had to convince myself I wasn't making something up. I have a little bit of experience with "lumps" in my breast as I had one in 2018 but that was a benign growth (after imaging and a biopsy proved it) and I had no problem leaving it in there but it was slowly growing so I was advised to have a lumpectomy. That was a minor setback with day surgery but I was out and about the next day, in hindsight I should have given myself a few days to fully recover from the anesthesia but who has time for that?
Fast forward to 2021 and I now feel something else. I'm lucky enough to come from the medical imaging world so I had some friends hook me up with an ultrasound. I knew they couldn't give me an answer but I had to see what this "thing" was, with my own eyes. While imaging indicated that it was probably and statistically benign my gut told me it wasn't right and, that did not belong inside of me. March 9th, I sent the picture to my long-time friend who is a Radiologist, we met my first year as an Ultrasound Tech and her first year as a Radiologist. Her friendship remains one of my most treasured. She urged me to get it checked out, gave me a few differentials but assured me it was not cancer, it couldn't be. Statistically it wasn't.
I even remember calling my mom and sister in tears as the stress and distress of not knowing what this "thing" was except that it wasn't "right" brought me so much anxiety.
My initial appointment was for Monday, March 15th but the stress of waiting through the weekend was so strong I had to get in sooner. Thankfully they were able to get me in on Friday, March 12th, I'm so grateful I didn't have to wait the entire weekend. I have to admit I felt a little silly, feeling like an alarmist but I had this urge to get to the bottom of this like I've never had before. I left that appointment confident though, mammo and ultrasound didn't indicate cancer but to ease my mind I insisted on a biopsy so then I can move on.
Despite the good imaging news, I couldn't yet move on.
So they scheduled my biopsy for Tuesday, March 16th.
Doctor: "Rebekah, I expect this to come back as fibrocystic and benign".
Me: I respond with a smile on my face, "Absolutely, so do I, let's just make sure."
Doctor: "Ok....you'll have the results by the end of the week".
Honestly, my anxiety was gone, I was doing something about this, it was now out of my hands and besides it's probably benign. Right?
The next day I was working in my office and I got a call from Austin Breast Imaging and yet still no alarm went off.
I answer, "Hello, this is Rebekah." Like I always do. The doctor says, "Do you have a minute to talk?" I say, "Sure" still expecting a benign diagnosis. "Rebekah, I know I told you this was going to be benign but it came back as Ductal Carcinoma In Situ".
Wait a minute....back up....."I thought you said". "I know Rebekah, I am just as shocked as you."
And at that very moment I turned a chapter.