Turbulence Ahead

TurbulenceI am so ashamed.

All these years I’ve been living in a snug little, smug little complacency bubble. At some point in the past decade and more I lost track of the fact that bone mets doesn’t stay put. I managed to turn my back on the fact that at some point my cancer would metastasize further. My head knew that my lungs or brain or liver or some other part would one day be colonized by the cancer, but my gut kept that knowledge buried deep.

Oh, I said the right things all along. No, that’s not it exactly; it wasn’t mere lip service. I always knew that I would die of breast cancer. I wasn’t just mouthing words. It’s more that there was a huge disconnect between my head and my gut.

Well, that’s all over now. As I wrote about three weeks ago, a large, painful swelling had developed under my arm. I saw several doctors and ultimately was referred for a biopsy, which was performed yesterday. The interventional radiologist who did the procedure found a 5 cm solid mass. She wouldn’t let me see the screen and she wouldn’t answer my questions so I don’t know exactly where it was, in the tail of Spence* or the breast proper or an axillary lymph node. She also wouldn’t tell me if the edges were defined or not. I was told that the mass is hypoechoic, which would be more common in malignancies than in benign masses.

So, given all that and even though it will be about a week and a half before the path results are in I don’t think I’m making too much of a leap to start thinking in terms of progression. Of course, it might be a new primary. That happens, too. And there is still a chance that it’s not cancer. Not much of a chance, but even still.

But that’s all the factual up-in-my-head side of things. The other side of things is in my gut. I can’t seem to stop crying. A friend of mine, someone I’ve known for years, is in hospice now with liver mets from breast cancer. She badly wants to be able to go home, to die in her own bed in her own room. That’s what I want for myself. To die at home, not in an institution.

If I have a new primary, I’m not sure what I’ll do. If they offer surgery I may accept it for aesthetic reasons. Being a uni-boober who hates wearing a prosthesis makes fitting clothes hard. I’d rather go flat, I think.

Will I go back on chemo? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. I’ll probably agree to a round of scans if the doctors want that, since I haven’t had any for a very long time. I’ve always said I’d revisit my “no more treatment” decision if there is progression to soft organs, and that time may have come. Information will be needed to make a good decision.

All that is in the future. Right now I’m in pain from the lesion itself and from the biopsy. I have the anxiety of waiting for the biopsy results, which won’t come before the 8th of July, if then. The next couple of weeks will be a time of living in the present, day by day. Not a bad thing in itself.

* axillary tailThe tail of Spence or axillary tail is the breast tissue that goes up into the axilla (armpit).

Turbulence image copyright: shottythefirst/123RF Stock Photo

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22 Responses

  1. Carol Miele says:

    Dear Claire, I totally sympathize with what you’re feeling and where you’re at…we ‘metsters’ know there is no longer wait than a biopsy report. You need t cry to relieve the stress you’re feeling…and the sadness, but then, my dear, use every bit of strength you have to fortify yourself. Put forth the best possible scenario and file the worst case scenario in the recesses of your mind. You can pull it up in an instant if need be. I’m praying you won’t need to do that. Gather up your courage, patience, belief in God, your favorite music, your best books and poems….and wait out the next 2 weeks. Meanwhile, you’ll be healing and strengthening yourself as well as reinforcing your higher beliefs in a power that’s greater than all of us. Draw on it….talk to your Guardian Angel (we all have one) to ask for help in this time of duress. I’m sure there are many of us who will be thinking of you….and praying. Warmest wishes and virtual hugs, Carol

  2. Mandi says:

    Scanxiety and waiting for results. Awful. Sometimes I swear not knowing is harder than knowing what is going on because your brain can come up with some crazy scenarios (at least mine does). I wish you the best as you navigate the next bit.

  3. Maria Ratliff says:

    I pray you are filled with a peace passing all understanding as you wait for the path results. Know that you have friends all over the world praying for you! I’m one of them!! Love & hugs!!

  4. John Boyd says:

    And I am another. You are in my thoughts more than you can imagine.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Oh sweet TK, wrapping warm, soft light around you.

    love from California, Stephanie

  6. Joanne says:

    The reality of our disease is big….I walk in fear. No advice, just walking with you….xoxoxox

  7. Sherri says:

    I am sorry to hear of this. May I repost on my blog for others to read? I think it would be beneficial.

  8. Jamie Inman says:

    As a sister in faith I say, “Ah shit.”
    Cry all you want; it won’t hurt, will do you good while you wait. And then you will put one foot in front of the other and wait for the next step.
    That’s all we can ever do.

  9. Yapcab says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I can relate to what you’re going through at some level. My PSA made an unexpected jump. Now we’re trying to figure out if the Lupron is failing. The crying comes naturally, but isn’t as cathartic as I’d like.

    You’ve done quite well for a very long time. Maybe this is a big bump on the road. Waiting for the results is pure torture. I wish there was something I could say that would ease your mind while you wait. The time will pass, though, and you will get the results. I pray it’s something that can be overcome for you and me. You’re my survivor inspiration. Know that my thoughts and prayers will be with you.

  10. Elizabeth J. says:

    Cry all you want. And call out to God. Take this a step at a time. You are in my prayers and the prayers of many others. {{{{Hugs}}}}
    BTW – I got my PET scan results today. New spot on my liver. I may join you in having that cry.
    Damn cancer!!!

  11. Sharon Armstrong says:

    So sorry this may be progression. I’m in the process of starting a new regimine because Anastrozole is no longer effective. My tumor markers are not ever out of range, they’re at the end of normal. But I do photograph well on PET scans. I told my oncologist where the progression was and the PET confirmed it. Is there some reason they cannot make you more comfortable until they propose a plan for you to consider? I will be praying for help for your pain and the Holy Spirit’s help for you to make the decision that’s right for you. Peace. You are always in my thoughts. Even though we’ve never met, I like many others consider you an intelligent, funny, caring person. Here’s some hugs from me too. Sharon

  12. Caroline says:

    Two things: Don’t put the cart before the horse. And You aren’t dead yet so don’t plan on being so. Hugs to you. Let us know what happens.

  13. Wendy Kozel says:

    So sorry to hear and that you have pain as well. One day at a time and don’t say you know the end of the story until the chapters are written. Hugs!

  14. Bill says:

    Yikes! And yet you have written this very clearly stated and cogent analysis of what is going on–you are far from losing all, Claire!

    I hope the tears are cleansing to your heart, and wish they could in themselves wash the crap you’re dealing with away.

    You have a wonderful global network of rooters for you–including me.


  15. Rebecca says:

    I am thinking of you and wishing you inner peace.

  16. Maxine D says:

    Oh Knots – crying with, and praying for, you – that’s all I can say.
    Blessings and prayers and {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  17. Mae says:

    Ashamed? You are an inspiration. I have no words to sooth you, just virtual hugs.

  18. Carrie says:

    You are in my thoughts as you wait for this new piece of information. I hate the waiting game.

  19. Tracy says:

    There is nothing to be ashamed of here. The only shame is that you developed cancer, a disease which we still know so little about and have so few real means to defend against. I am thinking of you xoxox

  1. 4 July, 2015

    […] go out to Knot  and Susan as they face turbulent times […]

  2. 28 July, 2015

    […] been having a lot of pain from a lump under my right arm, my “alien baby”. I had a biopsy at the end of last month, and the results were a long time coming. I now have the first result. […]

  3. 27 August, 2015

    […] farther than he strictly had to and insisted that a radiologist come and see me right then (see Turbulence Ahead), setting in motion a focused diagnostic effort. Two biopsies (along with a PET/CT, a bone scan and […]

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