Friday, July 9, 2010

So, how were you told?

Recently I came across an article in the Los Angeles Times entitled … How doctors deliver the news: It's Cancer. That inspired me to share my experience with you all on how I was told.

As I waited for the results of my first biopsy, I’ll be honest; I didn’t really think I had cancer. I thought it would turn out to be a cyst or something like that. Boy was I wrong.

I was in the bedroom; I remember the phone ringing and hearing my family doctor’s voice at the other end. I knew right away this was serious because I’ve never had a doctor call me at home. I think she said something like … “There is no easy way to say this … you have breast cancer.” I started shaking. I think she also asked something like, Are you ok? … and I replied yes. As she spoke I tried hard to remember the details of the conversation but honestly, I could only remember that someone was going to call me later with more details. I remember breaking down after hanging up the phone.

With my first reoccurrence, I was mentally more prepared and ready to receive the news. Once again a phone call came. I don’t remember much about it.

With my second reoccurrence, the one I’m dealing with now, I was at work. I remember checking my phone message and listening to my doctor’s voice. She asked me to call her back immediately. When I called her back, I was ready to hear that the cancer had come back but there was nothing preparing me for when she said the cancer had spread to my liver, lungs and bones. I am now metastatic.

Once again, she asked if I was ok and especially if I was ok to drive home. I said my office was only minutes away from home and I would be fine.


Glenn said...

Daria, you are in my eyes a true heroine. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you are going to survive this! Just so you know these words describe you right down to the soul
: a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities.

Julie Goodale said...

I remember going for my biopsy. All the technicians were talking, I was chatting with the radiologist. When they put my films up on the screen, the room fell completely silent. About half of my right breast was a mass of solid white - calcifications. I said, "wow, that's a lot" & they all looked at their feet & someone mumbled "yes".

I was told to call the nurse the next day. There was a long wait. When someone finally got on the phone, it wasn't the nurse, but the doctor. I knew before she said anything - the doctor wasn't going to get on the phone unless it was bad news.

She was very kind, but sounded upset (she was about my age, 37). She gave me a lot of good advice about finding doctors, doing my homework, etc.

Bernie said...

I don't know how but I knew as soon as I found my lump that I had Breast Cancer, I even waited a few days before seeing my doctor...he looked at me and said "we may be in trouble here" and I said "we".. he just smiled but we both knew. A couple of weeks later he called and confirmed what we both had known. I still have hot spots on my spine but they haven't grown at all so I have much to be thankful for.....I also have the most wonderful doctor in the world.
I don't think there is a good way to either hear this kind of news of to relay it to someone.
You are pretty special Daria, to have had to receive this news 3 times, I'm not sure what I would of been like if it had been me. Oh I never cried, not once throughout my surgery, chemo or radiation but once I had finished all treatment it was like a damn broke and I sobbed for about 10 minutes....I think it was the relief that it was all over......:-) Hugs

gillian said...

I will never forget about how I was told. Also, because I gave the doctor hell about it - much later.
I was at work, waiting for my biopsy results. I couldn't wait any more so I phoned. The first thing the doctor said was that he had my file in front of him and he was about to phone me, or something like that. He did not ask if I was in a place where I could talk, although much later someone said if I had phoned him, he must have presumed I could talk. Well, I was in an open plan office, jampacked next to people, and considering I had had a mammogram and ultrasound scan less than two months before finding a lump below my armpit, I did not really think I had cancer.
Anyway, he told me I had irregular cells. Something like that. What do you mean, I asked. Do you mean cancer? We don't like to call it that, he said. When I asked him what to do next, he advised me to go to my general practioner, which seemed like a dumb thing to do, kind of going backwards as it were, from a specialist to a GP. I said I won't. He did give me his home number if I needed it, he said. Later that day I was so freaked out, so unable to do/express anything cos I was in the office, that I did end up going to see my GP - which led to a jumble up of procedures which still makes me angry thinking about it, as he sent me to a radiation oncologist first, kinda the wrong way around, among other things he said which still annoy me. Like telling me then how fat I would get on the medication.....
Ja, I later told the radiologist I think they are called, that his approach was disgusting. But we 'made up' - I felt better for saying what I felt - and he became a useful adviser in the muddle of choosing the best treatment. So yes, one never forgets how one was told.

Ann aka ButDoctorIHatePink said...

The radiologist told me after my diagnostics. He said that he typically liked to give women hope but he couldn't do that with me, he was sure it was cancer. At that point though, I already knew so it wasn't a shock. I called my PCP after the biopsy, and he was the one who told me it was invasive and then he faxed the path report to me.

I go in for diagnostics on my remaining side next week. I hope I get the "all clear." If I don't, I'll let you know how I was told this time around.

danaceau said...

My news came in phases. I guess the real news was the day (after?) I had a CT scan after something suspicious showed up on an a chest X-ray. My Dr. called me in the afternoon to inform me that I had a LARGE tumor in my chest, measuring several centimeters in diameter. I remember my first question - is that in milimeters or centimeters? He sounded very concerned (maybe even scared) and immediately gave me the contact info for a surgeon to get a biopsy. The formal diagnosis came over a month later. In the interim it became apparent that it was some sort of lymphoma (NOT lung cancer - whew!) and PROBABLY Hodgkins. The first biopsy was inconclusive, so another was necessary to get a conclusive pathology report for Hodgkins.

Alli said...

I was at the emerg at our local hospital for something unrelated. While the Dr.was examining me if looked at my arm and asked if I had breast cancer because it appeared I had Lymphodema plus I had this sofy mushy thing on my side that was quite large. My family Dr. told me women get fatty tissues in these areas nothing to worry about so I didn't. The arm i attributed to my recent move I had slipped and twisted my arm in the process. He did an ultra sound just to rule out a couple of things. He thought the swelling could have been a blood clot in the making. I went home not really worried. The next day I was in the office setting up my morning things, my boss called me over to his office said my Dr was on the phone. My legs went weak and I suddenly fely sick to my stomach. His asking if I ever had breast cancer in our conversation the previous night just hit me in the face. The Dr calling my office clearing it with my boss to give me time off I knew right then I was in serious trouble. When I arrived he sat me down very gently held my hand and said Alicia I believe you have breast cancer I am sending you to a surgeon because the tumor looks quite large.Plus likely it has gone into your lymphatic system. I felt doomed. I went home and I felt numb the entire day I didn't know who to tell. My swollen arm and the mushy lump had been there for several months. I would be diagnosed with Stage3 Grade3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) and here we are!


Janine said...

I went in for my first routine mammo just before my 41st birthday and was called back a few days later for another look. The radiologist told me that I had some calcifications and needed a biopsy but that 80% of the time it would turn out to be benign. He told me that again the day of my biopsy. He called me the next day and told me they found dcis. I met with my breast surgeon and she also referred to it as dcis. I googled it and wasn't sure if it was cancer or not since they sometimes refer to it as pre-cancer. I was too embarrassed to ask the docs if I had cancer so I emailed the American Cancer Society and they told me that yes, I did have cancer.

Jill said...

Well for me I think it started a year before I was finally diagnosed. At that time I had to have surgery to remove some of the milk ducts due to bleeding from the nipple. Six months later I had a mammogram and everything seemed to be fine. Another 6 months past and I found a small lump (it turned out to be 5cms) and proceeded to have another mammogram and ultrasound. Within a few weeks I was in having a lumpectomy and was told that it seemed like it was DCIS. A week later I was at my Doctors and we hadn't received the pathology report yet. This was St Patrick's Day 2008. My Doctor decided to stay at the office late that night to see if he could pull it up on the computer. About 7:30 that night he called and told me it wasn't DCIS but IDC and they hadn't got it all. So another lumpectomy in April. A few days later the bad news came that they still hadn't got all of it and was advised to have a mastectomy which I had in 3 surgeries in 3 months and a 5 cm. tumor the saga began.

Anonymous said...

Gosh Daria,
I sat here reading the comments and now I don't know what to say. I get so angry thinking that technology is what it is today but there is not 1 sure treatment for such a devastating
disease. Your friends stories touched me. I often wonder what I will do if I "get the call," but there is no way of saying.

Love your blog, your very special.