Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Saga

I hesitated whether to post about this…My posts are usually light-hearted accounts of life on the ranch.  This one, not so much.

Some of you may know and some of you may not know, but I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

It sounds shocking, and it is really. I am young and healthy, I eat a fairly good diet, my life is mostly low-stress. Yes, I like to drink a few beers.  Yes, I love cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate shakes.  But seriously?  I see how other people live- they smoke, drink excessively, eat junk food as their staple diet… they don’t have cancer.  It doesn’t really seem fair. But then, I guess there were never any guarantees about fairness when I signed up for life on planet Earth.

So enough whining (for this moment anyway).  This is where it is.

Early this year, I felt a lump in my right breast.  Ever the optimist, I assumed a cyst or something benign like that.  I finally went to my doctor in March and she recommended a mammogram and an ultrasound.  Still unworried, I went to these appointments. My first twinge of concern came when the ultrasound showed this big, black tentacled monster thing in my boob.    

This is basically what I imagined was living in there:

 I Googled tentacled monster and this image came up.
Courtesy of

This twinge was confirmed when the ultrasound doctor came in and was very concerned and caring.  The reason this freaked me out is because looking at him I could tell he was the “typical scientist”- not unfriendly or unkind, but business like and probably just a little reserved.   When you get concerned eye contact and arm patting from a scientist, it sets off some warning bells…

Next step: Needle biopsy.

I pride myself on not being scared of needles- I’m just not. I’ve donated blood, received injections, given injections, all stuff needle-related is no issue. So when they recommended a needle biopsy on the lump, I thought no big deal- I even told my husband “No reason for you to go, it will only take a few minutes and it’s just a needle for cripes’ sake.”

Famous. Last. Words.

What they failed to tell me is that the more correct term for the procedure I was getting is Core Biopsy.
Core Biopsy… inherently different from a needle.  Think ice-cores, treecores, even an apple corer and you can see the difference.  Well, I didn’t know any of this when I waltzed into the surgeon’s office all proud and brave.  Here is a photo of the device used to “harvest” 3 samples:

Celero breast biopsy device
I laid on my hands so that I wouldn’t slap the surgeon.

Yeah. So not a needle.  

 As Lou Reed aptly put it:
 “Then I guess she had to crash,
Valium would have helped that bash…
She said, "Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side"

Walk on the wild side indeed. They do give you a local anesthetic, but it really doesn't reach in to where this cutting dagger goes.  Let's just say I screamed bloody murder and then burst into uncontrollable tears.  and then they had to do it 2 more times...

After regaining my composure and drying my hysterical tears, I was able to walk out with my dignity and my boob mostly intact.

Take home lesson: 
NEVER go to a biopsy appointment without your support person.

Tomorrow I will post the subsequent scenarios, as this is a pretty long story!

Stay happy. Stay healthy. And check your boobs- seriously. 

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“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” -Albert Einstein