I was minding my own business when…-guest post

In addition to not writing posts, I have not been minding my emails.  Elizabeth wrote me last week to say that she has started a new breast cancer blog I Am SurvivingI just got around to looking at it and liked the most recent post.  Here it is…

I Was Minding My Own Business When…

Maybe I should start from the beginning. I’ve always been good about having yearly mammograms- starting with baseline at 35 and then every year once I turned 40.

This past March I had a mammogram then an ultrasound because there seemed to be some cysts in my left breast. One of those cysts “didn’t look right” and I was told it was 90-95% benign. I was scheduled for an aspiration of this cyst within two weeks.
The aspiration didn’t happen because things weren’t lining up just so from ultrasound image and mammogram image. Although it was a little uncomfortable and took a long time, I really appreciated their attention to detail in finding THE spot. I was not looking forward to have a needle put in my boob and fluid sucked out – but, that would have been good news.
Instead I was put in some medieval torture device, with my left boob in a hole and then lifted up like a car for an oil change. Then, the mammogram squeeze, a shot and pain (it hurt, but only for a minute). The solid cyst was removed and sent to the lab for testing (really wish I had not seen my blob in a jar from across the room). I was stuck on the table in this most awkward position for 10 mins to stop the bleeding.
Those were the longest 10 minutes I had ever (up to that day anyway). While I was laying there on my stomach, boob in a hole, waiting for the bleeding to stop I realized this may not be the “90-95% chance benign” cyst anymore. It hit me that this really could be “the big C”. My boob was numb and so was I.
Once I pulled myself together and found a moment of comfort in the friend that was waiting for me, I got the hell out of that hospital. Ice cream was in order – I needed a prize and my friend needed a bigger prize for waiting all that time. The ice cream helped me and the ice pack tucked in my bra helped the biopsy site.
In a matter of days my life was completely turned upside down. The phone call came and I heard the words I never wanted or expected to hear. I had breast cancer. A tiny thing (8mm in duct and 2 mm out of duct), but still it was there. I was told how great it was to have been caught early, blah, blah, blah (really, that’s all I heard after the C bomb was dropped).  Stunned, shocked and then crying like crazy and calling my best friend, was all I could manage.
It took me days to tell anyone else and I could barely get the words out without crying. I found “the land of denial” was a nice place to be while I waiting for my surgery. Oh, the ice cream helped too.

About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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