I found out I was pregnant on June 5th 2022. I found a lump on my breast June 10th 2022. That was a Friday evening, so I spent the weekend afraid. On Monday I made an 8 week appointment for the next week with Dr Mechtler.
I had counseling on the morning of Wednesday June 15th, and I decided to call the nurse at my OB and ask for reassurance that a hard lump was normal after weaning my first child from breastfeeding. At 10:00 a.m. Melissa suggested that I come in at 1:00 p.m. on June 15th.
Dr Mechtler examined me and prescribed an ultrasound at Windsong radiology. I was barely 8 weeks pregnant.
I was seen at Windsong Radiology at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday June 16th for an ultrasound of my right breast.
I spoke with the doctor at Windsong, he told me to get biopsied ASAP. Later on Thursday June 16th 2022 my lump was biopsied. I completely expected a bad phone call on Friday June 17th.
I didn’t get any phone calls on Friday.
I had a great weekend. My family and I lounged on our front lawn in the beautiful weather. We watched movies, and enjoyed being sleepy, cozy, and pregnant in the first trimester.
On Monday June 20th, while on my way out the door, Nick reminded me to call him if I got any news. I had blissfully forgotten to be expecting a phone call.
I got the phone call at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 20th 2022. “The doctor would like to discuss the results of your biopsy, can you hold please?” I had so expected the bad news on Friday, that I was innocently curious of what this call could mean.
I’m still puzzled by my reaction. This moment of my life held monotonous work tasks, suspense, dangerous news, and two distinct paths. Before June 2022 I always expected to get the news and feel anxiety, ringing in my ears, tears, heart pounding, cold sweats, shaking. Terror. I only felt a steady heart beat for two.
I had questions. Why can’t I get an MRI? I’d like to get mammogramed, can you get that scheduled? When can I get in to see the surgeon? Who do you recommend? Is there a breast cancer and OB specialist with Windsong?
I forgot to ask what kind of cancer, what stage, am I in danger.
I was told to expect a call from the scheduling team. I ended the call and dialed Nick. My husband answered and I croaked “cancer.” My voice was so raspy that he misheard me. I straightened in my chair trying to fill my lungs with a better breath, but my lungs were already full of air that I couldn’t feel, so I exhaled two words:
Nick replied with a lot of okay’s. I didn’t count them. And then he started asking things. I told him as much as I could remember, but I realized that I hadn’t learned very much in the brief phone call. All I could reassure Nick was that I was to expect a phone call from the patient intake team soon. I had to go, I was getting a call on my work line.
I told my boss, I texted my family chat, I texted my girls, and no one got back to me. The word “cancer” filled my messaging screen. One thread after the other, the word cancer written on the reflection of my face. It was very unpleasant. I texted everyone back telling them that I loved them. That was a much better measure of reality.
On Wednesday June 22nd I had an appointment to meet with Dr. Peyser. Dr. Peyser is the same surgeon that my mom had in 2018, so that felt nice, good, safe. I knew how he spoke, how careful and respectful he treated patients and families in the office and the waiting room.
I had option A and option B. Be pregnant and battle cancer, or terminate my pregnancy before treatment.
My cancer is common among the small cohort of young people with breast cancer, and rarely do these people also fall pregnant at the same time. I’m rare. Not unique, not unprecedented, but rare.
Dr. Peyser recommended I meet with Dr. Soniwala if I was interested in working with a renowned medical oncologist. The nurses scheduled my appointment for the next day, 7:15 a.m. on June 23rd 2022. They were impressed that someone in their office was special enough to be seen by Dr. Soniwala with 24-hour notice. I understood then how special my case was.
If I closed my eyes I could envision a spotlight fixed on me in a darkened arena and I felt the urge to hide while I knew there was no point in hiding. I felt afraid like prey.
I slept poorly on Wednesday June 22nd. I woke early on Thursday June 23rd for my 7:15 appointment. Nick and I drove to Roswell Park.
Dr Soniwala helped. Dr Soniwala reassured. Dr Soniwala explained. I felt different after I left Dr Soniwala’s office. I exhaled fully for the first time in 4 days, and almost passed out in the hallway.
I had another nice weekend the weekend of June 24th 2022. I could expect a phone call on Monday or Tuesday with the best recommendations of the brightest medical minds from all different disciplines of medicine. This team of doctors would discuss me and my circumstances and my beliefs and my morals and my tests and my genetics and my imaging and they would discuss what they would like to do if they were me. My family and I went grocery shopping, and we bought a splash pad to play in. We watched movies and napped and I brunched with friends. I had a lot of help. I was not alone.
Dr. Soniwala called on Tuesday June 28. A little more than half the attendants in the multidisciplinary conference believed I could safely carry my pregnancy and receive good cancer treatment with good prognosis.
I had no further questions. I had my answer in my heart, as terrifying and as wildly challenging as the future would be, I had my decision.
Dr. Mechtler Dr. Peyser and Dr. Soniwala will all coordinate to battle my breast cancer while I grow a baby.
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