Benign: my last 20 days
A lot has been happening with my health this month. I have been journaling and I want to share my experience. I received results today from a breast biopsy that I had last Friday - benign, and I am filled with relief. This experience has changed me forever. I found myself searching for other women online who were going through similar experiences or testing and it helped me with being educated on processes, honoring emotions that I was going through that other women were experiencing. We aren't alone, even though it may feel that way sometimes.
Erica, age 40. Bilateral routine mammogram with a recommendation for more imaging of the left breast because of an area of concern.
Friday. 7:45A. Arrive at the breast care center for second mammogram. I felt some stress when we got there. I was ready for them to complete the testing so that I could get back out to the truck with Brent and we could start our 3 day weekend together 💕
After the mammogram an ultrasound was recommended to my L lateral breast in an area the needed more exploration. During the ultrasound the radiologist came in for more details and to chat with me.
A core biopsy was recommended to the left lateral breast. ~surreal experience~
Appointment scheduled for biopsy 3/20 at 1:00P.
I started to panic when I made it back to the changing room. I remember holding my breath as I got dressed and had to pause to breathe. I couldn’t get the damn hospital gown into the laundry bin. Everything felt so hard. “Where is the hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face, get out of here!” Panic was starting to hit me.
I reached for my phone to text B and then I stopped. I felt sick letting him know via text, that wasn’t right. I put it away and grabbed all of my shit and I got to him as fast as I could. He was waiting in the parking lot. I just had to get to him.
He dropped me off at 7:45 and I remember seeing 9:20 on the truck clock when I got back in with him because I just stared at it for a bit, and then told him.
I have to have a biopsy babe.
Tonight there was a LOT of crying. Sadness. Quiet. Going down the rabbit hole of fear in my mind. More crying. Calling family. Then out in nature all afternoon which helped me so much.
Saturday. I suppose I had my first ever panic attack today? It came out of nowhere. I started to get weepy and then a wave of fear about my health and what was happening in the world hit me and I started to shake. I could breathe well, but my hands, jaw and body were trembling. Brent asked me what he could do and I just needed his hand on my back. It helped me feel calm and reset. Compression is soothing to my nervous system.
Sunday. Waves of weeping. Not all day. It just comes out of nowhere. I planted my flower seeds today and had a quiet day with some time to myself. I raked 4 wheelbarrow fulls of leaves.
Monday/Tuesday. Back to the office. I had two clients scheduled Monday & two clients scheduled Tuesday during the beginning of major corona closures. I couldn’t handle any more, but my work was good. I felt connected to massage and my work. I was in tune more than I have been for months. It’s been so long. Less clients are better for me at this time in my life.
I imagined my work being “taken from me” if I had cancer and I felt sad. I cried after the client sessions. I won’t forgot those days or sessions because I really offered my best work. It was amazing and sad and I didn't know if this was going to be it for me or what. I closed the office after my last client on 3/17.
Wednesday. I started sharing some home activities today on IG to connect with community there. I needed some mind distraction. My business is closed. Everyone is on quarantine. And this..
Just my family and a few close friends know about my breast biopsy on 3/20. I’m relaxing right now with B, I feel a slight twinge at times on the L lateral breast and sometimes in the pec minor origin.
I feel pretty numb to everything that’s happening. We’ve had layers of stress this month.
Today was my scheduled day off for the week. I made some announcements on FB and IG that I was closing for now.
It was due to corona ultimately, but I was quietly planning on having to cancel these clients for that week because of the biopsy recovery, my clients just didn’t know that.
It was recommended that I have lifting restrictions for 3-4 days post biopsy for desk workers, so they recommended a longer period for me because of the physicality of my work.
I woke up at 3:00A & my mind was racing with ways to reinvent my work. It felt good to spend time on the website making updates and revisions. Keeping things in motion.
7:00A I had a wave of anxiety and I didn’t want B to leave for work. He had to, so I went straight the shower and offered my self an unrushed refresh. Shaving, slow, intentional cleansing, acupressure points on my face, breath work.
I went to my home office where I set up a relaxation nest and I rested. I read, listened to music. Rested.
Today I called the breast center to be sure that my biopsy wasn’t cancelled. The nurse said they were only canceling non emergency procedures like routine mammograms......
I looked up core biopsy images online (greeaaaat idea). Recovery time and how it was performed. I looked over my mammogram images, researched the impact of breast cancer on marriages and family. The loss of femininity, difficulty with intimacy, husbands being overwhelmed in the new caregiver role, losing hair, losing a part of my body. Yeah. Rabbit hole.
I went outside and I raked and I stacked wood, I didn’t have a lot of energy for very much outside but it felt good. I went back inside and cleaned the kitchen. Made tea (alcohol free for 6 days), rested again ❤️.
Friday. 5:30A awake and weepy because I woke up thinking “who’s on my schedule today?” Oh yeah biz closed and biopsy day. I’m in the bedroom regrouping. Brent’s making coffee and I’m joining him soon. ☕️
I made it through the biopsy well. I was calm all morning. I did a full shower/ grooming session, hair mask, blow dry. Just taking time for myself with extra TLC and it helped me. I set out clothes to change into when we got back and added extra pillows, & favorite blankets to our bed.
I went outside and walked the yard, picked up sticks, enjoyed the breeze. I truly felt the calm and good energy of my friends and family who were praying for me and sending me their love.
Brent got home at 11:30A from work and it was time to go to the center.
12:30P. Arrive. Screening upon arrival due to corona including temp check. Feeling the tension in the air.
Check in, say good bye to B 😭. Wait for a moment and then into the breast care center.
The staff is amazing there. I let my nurse know that I appreciated her so much. We discussed the procedure, questions. They were ready for me.
A room with a hydraulic table and a large squarish hole for my breast. A two step step stool to get up onto the table. Left breast positioned in hole. There was a bolster for my ankles but my head was turned to the right for the entire experience. I wanted a massage face rest or the ability to flex the head and neck forward (massage table ergonomics popping in).
This part was actually easy. Some pain with the compression from the upside down mammogram machine. No pain with lidocaine or the biopsy itself but I did get a little teary when I felt the pressure and heard the machine. I visualized the flowers that I grew last summer. They popped into my mind and I never expected visualization or thought of doing it to help me, but it got me through feeling strong.
It was done. I can shower tomorrow by 3 and I have a new titanium marker in my breast at the end of the biopsy. I feel relieved. No news until next week. But I felt relief today ❤️
Saturday. 3:00P first shower. Felt amazing all day no pain. Surprising. It made me feel light and at ease.
After my shower I removed the first bandage and the incision looks great. I was pleased, no bruising, swelling, just a small portal.
I applied a new bandage and when I looked at myself in the mirror I cried. The unseen is what felt scary. It was my boob as always with a little bandaid. But the unseen and portal hit me for a moment.
Sunday. Good all day. Getting back to some light activities. Showered and saw the portal again. I was ok but when I came back to hang with B the invasiveness of this past month entered my mind.
I had 6 different people in March see my breasts, pull, adjust, compress place on the shelf, arm over your head, ultrasound, squeezed, positioned, hold your breath, don’t move, one more picture.
It felt overwhelming for a moment to have been exposed and examined and clinically assessed.
Wednesday. I just received the call that my results are negative. I felt a wave of relief and a wave of sadness for women who receive different news. I haven't been sharing or pushing work options online or keeping my community engaged or figuring all of this out with work because I really needed to focus on my health and I am truly taking life moment by moment and appreciate every minute more than ever.
Thank you for reading if you made it this far. I am so grateful for health and for every day. I wish the same for all of you.