August 28, 2009
I was told that my biopsy reports would be sent to my doctor by the next day and now it's the next day.
I debated what time to call if I didn't hear. I figured 3:00 pm would be fair - it gives the office staff time to check the fax, give the report to the doctor, have him look over it, see his scheduled patients and make time to call me. If he hasn't called by 3:00, I'd call, which would let them know I'm waiting, but still give them time to call me before their office closes.
3:00 sounded like a good compromise.
At 10:00 a.m I called and got their voice mail.
Not wanting to be pushy, I left a cheery little message. "Hi, this is Ann Silberman. You guys are supposed to get my biopsy results today, and I just wanted to let you know to call me on my cell and not my home number. I'm ready to hear the bad news!"
Yeah, I actually said that.
The doctor called me an hour later. I was in my office but ran through the principals office to the back door (while she was in a meeting) so nobody would interrupt me.
He said the news was "bad, very bad." and that I had cancer. I told him I knew. Did he sound shaky on the phone? I think he sounded shaky or nervous. He's been treating me for ten years, he probably doesn''t like to tell long-term patients that kind of news. Maybe, though, it was my hearing that was shaking and nervous; eardrums trembling. After all, he's been a physician a long time, even served on a battlefield, and probably had given this kind of bad news thousands of times.
I asked him if it was invasive, and I heard him rattle some papers, then again, he said, "yes, it's bad, it's invasive ductal carcinoma"
I asked him if he could fax the pathology report to me, and he said yes. He said he'd schedule me to see a surgeon "immediately." I thanked him and hung up.
I sat outside the courtyard in the middle school and looked at the flowers, and thought, "wow, I have VERY BAD cancer! I need to see a surgeon NOW." I ran inside to the fax machine, imagining my impending death. I mean, the doctor was nervous, right? Doctors don't get nervous. They see cancer every day. If he said it's "really bad" twice, that means I'm dying. Oh my God, I have a 12 year old, a family! I can't have really bad cancer! I want the good cancer!
The doctor didn't delay, the fax came in immediately.
Preliminary Results: 2x Positive/Atypical: recommend surgical follow-up pathological description: calcs DCIS & LCIS. 7:00 - Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma.
RIGHT BREAST: 7:00, Ultrasound-guided Core Biopsy: Infiiltrating Ductal Carcinoma
RIGHT BREAST, Stereotactic Core Biopsy:
1. Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, Cribriform, Solid, and Comedo Types, with calcification. High Nuclear Grade.
2. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ and Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia
I don't have one cancer, I have three!
I have cancer soup.
(Cancer Soup would be a great name for a rock band, by the way.)
Okay, now knowing I'm seriously ill and probably dying, I run to my computer to confer with Dr. Google.
CRAP! The internet goes down at that very moment, and to continue the Dave Barry theme - I am not making this up. I stare at the computer in disbelief. Wild-eyed, I run to the ladies in the front office and ask: can you get online? They think so, and one gets to our district intranet, so I run back to my own computer. But, I can't get anywhere. Now, I'm a former Network Manager so I know my computers, and I think there is a proxy error going on. I go back up front and try it myself on her computer, and yes, the internet is definitely down.
I grab my iPhone and google "infiltrating ductal carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ, cribriform, comodo, high nuclear grade and lobular carcinoma and atypical lobular hyperplasia."
(I dare you to try that on an iPhone keyboard.)
I think I overwhelmed Dr. Google and my poor phone - they didn't handle those search terms as well as I would have expected. It's pretty hard to read google scholar and google books on an iPhone, and I realized that for the first time in years, my iPhone won't cut it. I need a widescreen monitor and a real keyboard.
I call tech support, wanting to scream "Get me online, I need to find out if I am about to die!" but instead, I say, "Hi, this is Ann and our internet is down." She tells me she thinks there is a proxy issue going on and they are going to test things, and I suggest that she "test things" on me. So, she walks me through a new setting and whew....
The internet is back.
How did people know they were sick in the old days before computers?
Instead of trying to google, I decide to take advantage of an online acquaintance who has an OB/GYN in the family. I type my path reports and hit send to ask for another kind of online second opinion.
Then I turn back to google and narrow my search terms.
(Bing, are you feeling left out yet?)
After reading a few pages of results I calm down a bit. It appears that I just have regular old breast cancer - yes, I have an invasive form and it's serious, but not the "you have three months to live" kind. At least, as far as I can tell.
Then my kind friend and his relative respond, within 30 minutes, and I get the same message. I have garden variety cancer(s) - a bit more aggressive than others, but I'll probably make it to Christmas.
I hate Christmas. But suddenly the thought of corny songs, spending money on stuff that's not for me, and a tree littering needles inside my house make me very happy.
My here and now
1 day ago