The Bruise Rainbow.
January 17, 2019. Eight days later, I show up, take off my bra and get down to work, lying still. If you have never had a boob biopsy, here’s the score: They re-locate the lump with ultrasound, then keep the ultrasound hovering over the lump while a doctor numbs the area with lidocaine (you can watch along on the ultrasound as the needle finds the area and delivers its load of medicine).
Then once the area is nice and numb, the doctor brings out the Big-Ass Needle that is so fat that he actually needs to make a small incision in the skin to insert it. Part of the Big-Ass Needle barrel is cut out, producing a space that the doctor positions with the help of the ultrasound right in the lump, so some of the lump tissue can snuggle down inside the needle tube. Then he says, “you’re gonna hear a snap,” and you totally hear and feel a snap as a spring-loaded outer tube is launched over the Big-Ass Needle, trapping some of the offending tissue inside. Then he withdraws the biopsy needle and repeats as necessary. I think he took three samples. Then they place a little titanium “marker clip” in the lump to remind themselves where they’ve been. This is handy (a) when they have to go back in and find the biopsy spot in order to clean out the cancer, or (b) when they find that it’s nothing, but they see the same suspicious spot on subsequent mammograms – the little clip is there to say, hey, we’ve been over this before. They tell me the clip looks kind of like the spring out of a ballpoint pen but way smaller. No, I don’t know why they call it a clip and not a spring.
They send me home with an ice pack in my bra and tell me to wait one to two business days. Since it’s Thursday, if the oncology lab doesn’t get the results back to my doctor by Friday, it will be a long weekend.
It was a long weekend. While I wait, my boob turns all the colors of the Bruise Rainbow. Lots of purple and yellow. Red and brown. Then it was a long Monday. By Monday afternoon when I still didn’t hear anything, I called my new family clinic office. Turns out my new Nurse Practitioner doesn’t work on Monday. It sounds like they have the results but cannot release them to me. I know what that means. Everybody is happy to share negative (good news) results. Only one person can share positive (bad news) results. Argh. However, now that I have stirred the office pot, I get a call soon after, booking me for a visit with my NP first thing in the morning. By now, the results are obvious, but we all have to follow protocol.
January 22, 2019. My nurse practitioner confirms my suspicions. I have invasive ductal carcinoma. It’s the most common type of breast cancer, she tells me, and the Legacy health system has some fine oncologists to help me navigate this new world in which I am now living. Next step: a visit to an oncology surgeon. The oncology office calls me while I’m still on the way home from this first shocking (but not that shocking) visit. Here goes nothing.