All Tests Aren’t Created Equal

I woke up the next morning ready to book my breast ultrasound. I called a local hospital. There was an ultrasound office nearby so I figured I could run over real quick during my lunch break. This was an emergency right?

I called frantically and let her know the deal. I insisted I come in for an ultrasound that day. She calmed me down (sort of) and said actually, I would need a mammogram too and unfortunately they don’t do mammograms at that location. I got defensive, I told her that my doctor told me I would only need an ultrasound and I wasn’t interested in being exposed to the radiation of a mammogram. I told her that was ridiculous and I am only 30. I didn’t realize it in the moment, but I was the one being absolutely ridicoulous

She was disgusted with me, I could tell in her voice. She put me down, made me feel like I wasn’t respecting my body. I asked if they did thermography there?  A friend of mine had told me about it and it was the safer alternative to mammography. She had no idea what I was talking about and I hung up the phone frustrated and annoyed.

I called another hospital and asked if they did the thermography. They once again had no idea what I was talking about. Why didn’t anyone know what this is?! What is wrong with our healthcare system?!  She then said, well we can just do the ultrasound if you’d like. OH perfect yes lets do that!!! Then she said, “but ma’am, why wouldn’t you just get the mammogram too. We can even tell you your results right then in there”. There was something in her voice, a genuine concern that made me stop in my tracks and had a quick reality check. What are you thinking Janine!? I also wanted those results, as soon as humanly possible. I agreed and she said the first available appointment was that coming week. SHIT, I had to be in the city for work that week. How was I going to delay this?! What if there really is something wrong with me and I end up dying because I had to wait a week. She assured me that a week wouldn’t make much of a difference and I booked my mammogram with right breast ultrasound for February 2, 2016.

I went to my meetings in the city that week feeling lost but in much need of a distraction. I didn’t tell anyone what I was battling in my mind. I didn’t tell anyone that I was pretty confident that I was dying. I didn’t want to be that girl, I didn’t want to be dramatic and take away from the very important meetings we had that week. I threw all of my energy and thoughts into work and was feeling a sense of relief. I felt invincible again and thought  I am strong, I am healthy, this is going to be nothing.

I almost completely forgot about it after a long day of meetings into the night until I saw my one coworker. She is one of my very good friends. Since, working remote, we rarely get to see eachother besides on google hangouts. I saw her and instantly got sick to my stomach. I have a flashback of 2 weeks ago, before I ever had an idea that something was wrong with me, when she called me distraught and told me her mom had found a lump in her breast and they had to do a biopsy. I remember her telling me and a wave of major anxiety came over me, I felt worried sick for her, for her mom, for her family and I remember thinking, what if that was my mom? How would I handle that? And then reality hits again, its not my mom, its me. They found a lump in my breast and all of those feelings send me spiriling.

Now What?

Scared and confused I walked home. I called my mother and boyfriend to fill them in. They were my two go to’s. They both assured me I would be fine and not to get too worked up about it but maybe they were secretly freaking out because well, how could they not be? I texted my two best friends and got the same encouraging speeches. Something just did not feel right though.. Was this why I have been feeling so off? Was my body trying to tell me something? They find these things all the time right? Or am I the exception, the one that actually does have something terribly wrong with her. I started to feel sorry for myself and let my hypochondriac mind roam. STOP IT JANINE! STOP IT JANINE! You are not sick, you are not dying. I told myself that over and over again mixed with wait but maybe you are. I kept aggressively rubbing this lump that she ever so casually found. I thought to myself, you idiot, you didn’t even catch this one yourself. But I did all the correct self breast exams right? How could I miss this. Now that I think of it, I felt this before. I definitely felt this but why didn’t I say something, why didn’t I call my doctor? I am gonna throw up.. I had completely exhausted myself.

I went back to finishing up some work and tried to distract my mind. I work from home so it wasn’t abnormal for me to be working into the evening. I love my job and it never really feels like work. Working for a women’s empowerment company, what could be more rewarding. I get to train new merchandisers and coach them to success. I get to change lives. I always knew I wanted to change lives. Oh here it comes again, anxiety.. go away, go away. Is it time for a glass of wine?

That night my boyfriend came home and had just the cure for what my worried (slightly intoxicated) mind needed. A fire, smores, and The Office. Perfect! He always knew how to cheer me up. We had been together for almost 5 years, lived together for 4 and basically were attached at the hip. We had been through a lot, we had a special bond, we were best friends, we leaned on each other, and he always made things seem less scary.

I went to bed that night feeling so lost. What if this was the time that something horrible happens to me? What if I am sick? I didn’t really feel sick, wouldn’t I feel sick? Wouldn’t they have seen this in my bloodwork from that month? Is that a thing? I always see young people, young girls battling cancer and I feel so sick to my stomach for them. How are they smiling right now? How are they living through their day? What does that feel like? I can never wrap my head around why them? Why do they have to suffer? I always feel so sorry for them, then count my blessings that I am healthy. But now what if I am going to be the one that people feel sorry for because I am dying? Am I dying? STOP IT JANINE! GO TO BED!

What Just Happened…

It’s always something isn’t it? That’s what i always thought. I always thought that my life was full of a bunch of random events that never made sense. I felt lucky in so many ways but often wondered if other people felt the same. Everything seemed like such a big deal, until January 19, 2016. Now I am no writer, no aspiring blogger, not really one to sit down and pour my every feeling and thought down on paper. Mainly because I don’t have the patience or discipline to do so, but also because my speciality has never been grammar. I sure as hell have no problem talking your ear off though! But here I am, exactly one year from the start of my nightmare and it just came to me. I want to share my story, share my experience, maybe make someone out there feel less alone and misunderstood. We all have our time and a quote comes to mind… “Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breath in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” It isn’t always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but shit… when it rains, it pours. Every time someone tells me their 2016 was the worst year ever, I feel like saying “oh did you get diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, lose your breasts, lose your partner of 5 years, lose your grandmother, then lose your job?” I am going to go ahead and say no. Please don’t think I am discounting anyone else’s heartache or pain. We all have our shit, it’s always something right?

So I guess my story starts here. January 19, 2016. I was in my doctor’s office because I kept having really bizarre medical issues. I was hospitalized for pneumonia and quarantined with scarlet fever. I started losing my hair and they told me I had alopecia. Wait what?! I was convinced that I was dying so I demanded they run every test they had. A classic hypochondriac but I mean sometimes you just know it’s not right. Every test was fine and in complete exhaustion and frustration I looked up and saw a sign that they now had a gynecologist on staff. I remembered I was due for my annual so I made the appointment.                                      So here I am on January 19, 2016 pretty sure they were going to find that something was wrong with me. She did my exam and said everything looked fine but then she did my breast exam and had a worried look on her face.

“Janine, I feel a lump here on your right breast. It’s most likely nothing but I want you to get an ultrasound to get it checked out.” Stomach drop…..All I heard was, Janine, you are dying. She assured me that i would be fine but I just had a weird feeling. I left that day feeling hopeless and confused with an occasional, stop it you are such a hypochondriac. I must have asked every woman I know if this has ever  happened and I got a whole lot of “Yep happened to me, it’s definitely nothing.” The irony of this is, it was actually nothing.. but it’s always something…