Its been a long 2 weeks. Really, its been a long 12 days. This all started back in early April. My left breast appeared a bit red and a bit swollen, especially when compared to the right. Now, to be fair, the right breast has always been smaller than the left, so the size difference really wasn’t a concern to me. I had an OB appointment coming up, so I decided to just mention it to her. Its not always clear as to where the line is for seeing Primary Care or your OB when you are pregnant.
So, the OB checked it out and decided it was mastitis. Now, mastitis is more common when breastfeeding, but it can also happen during pregnancy (and even if not pregnant). So she put me on a round of antibiotics, and also ordered an ultrasound. That didn’t do anything to fix things. So, I send an email saying such. The response I got was that she’d check it out again when I came in for my next appointment. So, I waited. I didn’t really notice if it was getting more red, or larger. And even if it did get a bit bigger, breasts grow during pregnancy so I wasn’t too concerned. Next she put me on a different antibiotic. She did look at the results of the ultrasound, but did not order a follow-up. I finished that course of antibiotics and it still didn’t help.
That led me to calling my Primary Care office. Well, they were closed for the week. The doctor was out of town and his NP was out sick. So, the next day I went to urgent care. During my researching of mastitis I saw mentions of breast cancer. I asked “could this be cancer” and was told “NO.” The person I saw at urgent care said that my skin wasn’t showing symptoms of cancer. I should also add that I am younger than the age when most women potentially get cancer. I also have a condition called Neurofibromatosis, Type 1 (NF1). This makes increases my chances of getting cancer. I mentioned the NF1 at urgent care. They gave me a 3rd antibiotic, and said I should call my OB if things don’t improve in a few days, to see if I should go to the ER for IV antibiotics.
By now its May 25th, and in a week I will have a new Primary Care doctor. I decided to just wait the week, see the new doctor and go from there. I didn’t want to complicate things when my medical groups changed. So, the new doctor gave me a 4th antibiotic, but also sent me to a breast health clinic. At the clinic the provider also said it wasn’t cancer because I lacked symptoms. But, she did say that the previous ultrasound report said it should be repeated if things didn’t resolve/improve.
On June 19th I had an ultrasound. The doctor (radiologist) saw some suspicious things on it and suggested a mammogram (which I agreed to). He still wasn’t satisfied with what he saw so he asked if I’d be willing to let them do a breast biopsy. I agreed to it, and it was done the same day. A few days later I got a call asking me to come in to discuss the results. I said that I just wanted to know over the phone. I was told that it was “carcinoma,” meaning cancer. She wanted me to have a biopsy of the lymph nodes, so that was scheduled for the next day (Friday, the 22 of June). I was also given an appointment to be seen at the Cancer Center on Monday the 25th.
Monday the 25th comes around quickly. I meet the surgical oncologist and hematologist/oncologist. The plan is to have me start pregnancy-safe chemo the next week, July 2nd. I get one of the tests done that they wanted prior to chemo. Then we arrange for a hospital admit on Monday July 2, so the other tests can be done and chemo can be started. Well, at the hospital one of the tests showed some concerning spots on my liver. Now, it doesn’t mean that there is cancer there. I have to have a PET scan to find out. Having NF1 can cause benign tumors to show up. And the spots on the ultrasound could very well be that. They won’t know until they see the PET scan and see if they light up. There are 3 outcomes. 1) they don’t light up at all, 2) they light up like a lightbulb (biopsy needed), or 3) they light up some (biopsy needed). Depending on what the PET scan shows will guide the course of my treatment.
At this point I know what Plan A is. I don’t have a Plan B or Plan C. We are all taking it one step at a time, and we are all working as a team to keep me and the baby healthy.