Auspicious dates and my diagnosis story

I have a lot of anniversaries coming up … so I’m expecting that my life will be filled with emotion.

In preparing this post, I realized that I never really wrote out my diagnosis story. I spoke it many times at support groups, but never actually wrote it out in this blog.

It all began with the feeling of a hard spot under my left breast (June 1st). Since my stuff had arrived from Canada earlier that week, we had been unpacking. After a few days of unpacking, we decided to take Sunday afternoon off and go for a bike ride. I actually wrote a bit about the bike ride and shared some pictures when I talked about my cancerversary – I had no idea then how I would be feeling now!

Each day, as I got out of the shower, and before I went to sleep at night, I kept checking my left breast, in hopes that the hard spot would be gone. It wasn’t. After a week – on Monday June 9th, as 8:30 in the morning I called my primary care’s office to see if I could get in and get it checked out. They had a spot open at 9:20am. I remember walking in all cavalier, and says “this is probably nothing” and “maybe I’m overreacting” but for “peace of mind” I wanted to get it check out. She did a breast exam and confirmed that I was feeling something. I could tell there was definitely some concern in her eyes. She put in a referral for diagnostic (not screening) mammogram and ultrasound. The way she explained it and the way it happened were different.

I proceeded to go downstairs and book an appointment. The soonest they could get me in was Thursday afternoon. I went home, and jumped on my recumbent bike and went for a long bike ride. I ended up out at Scott’s office, and we rode home together. I remember upon arriving at his office that some of his coworkers were there. They wanted to try out my bike, so we did a little bit of that, before heading home. As we left the Alcatel parking lot, I told Scott that I had found a lump in my breast and that I had an appointment on Thursday to have it looked at.

Originally, he was not going to be with me at the Thursday appointment – however, I read the information page they gave me, and at the bottom it said “You will get your results immediately”. With that, I decided that it would be better if he did come along (thank goodness!).

The diagnostics began with a mammogram – which was horribly painful given the large lump in my breast! Then an ultrasound. The tech said – this is what you were feeling?  Uh- yah!

After the ultrasound, they said I could get dressed and that the radiologist would like to speak to me. I mentioned that my husband was with me in the waiting room and could he please come to the discussion with the radiologist. They had no problem with that, showed us to an office, and the radiologist came in. He was pretty up front. He said – It is cancer. He had called upstairs to the surgeons office, and in 45-minutes the surgeon could seem me to do a biopsy. He commented that if his mother or wife had cancer, this is the surgeon he would recommend. At the time, I did not understand that the surgeon is the first doctor you see when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. I was surprised I wasn’t being referred to an oncologist.

After a short walk around the PAFM Mountain View clinic, we went up to the surgeons office. The surgeon was pretty matter of fact about doing the biopsy. He said to book an appointment for the following week (when the pathology results would be known). Because of my age, he also recommended genetic counseling, so we booked that appointment too. He gave us the quick 5-minute version of the longer 45-minute talk that would happen the following week. The short comment was that I likely needed a mastectomy. While we were doing the biopsy and talking with the surgeon, the radiologist called. They wanted to see me back downstairs at the mammogram / ultrasound lab because the radiologist saw something suspicious in my other breast. So, downstairs we went, off with my top again, and he validated that it could be seen on the ultrasound. We booked an ultrasound-guided biopsy for the next day (Friday). I also had a chest x-ray and a bunch of blood work done.

On Friday we met with the genetic councilor. We drew blood for that, but couldn’t submit the panel until we had confirmed pathology – at which time the insurance would cover the test. I did the guided ultrasound guided biopsy on Friday afternoon.

As I was supposed to by flying to Ottawa on Saturday, I had to cancel my travel plans and inform a few people of what was happening. Because we didn’t have pathology, we didn’t want to make things public just yet. It was all very awkward.

On the weekend, we went for a walk around Sausalito. I recall that walk because I found myself checking out women’s breasts. It was and odd thing really.

On Monday, I received two phone calls from my surgeon confirming breast cancer in both breasts.

On Friday, we went up to Stanford for a second opinion. After appointments, I did my first breast MRI. It was the breast MRI that showed the third tumor.

So, there is my diagnosis story … details of how thing unfolded starting on the weekend after diagnosis are described in detail on the blog. I just seem to have missed the very start of the story.


  • Becky

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