My Unicorn Life

If I didn’t already know I was special, I for sure know that now. After meeting with the Genetic Counselor the other day I found out that I do not have any mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. For those that don’t know, mutations in these two genes increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It came as a bit of a surprise, only because my oncologist was SO sure that would be the case – being 27 with no history of breast cancer in the family. Alas, I am a unicorn. I have no explanation.

They did find some things of interest – I have a “variant” in a gene called TP53, which is currently being studied for its role/link in young cancer and bone cancer (I have mets to the bone for those that do not know). Since the research is still new, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything right now, but potentially could down the line. The cool thing about being a purple unicorn is that my DNA is getting some special attention – being studied and further tested by the HCP (Hereditary Cancer Program) looking at MORE of my genes to seek out any other mutations or anomalies (yay more blood work/saliva samples)…though I would take normal DNA over being the subject of study any day 😉

Next up on the docket for Wednesday was a blood test and biopsy to get me started with the POG study. If you don’t know about this study I suggest you read up on it, it’s pretty interesting stuff.

Since I was slotted in due to a last minute cancellation, no one had any requisitions for me for bloodwork or the biopsy…typical haha. So up and down the cancer agency I went, having people track down the correct people to get the show on the road. Blood work: Check. Next up, biopsy. My diagnostic biopsy experience was awful, I was not comfortable, I was nervous, they didn’t freeze me properly and took a total of 10 samples including fine needle aspiration of the lymph node.

This time I was slightly more prepared, I popped some Ativan to relax a bit, and knew to tell them to freeze me properly. So, I’m lying on the table, exposed, with this new grad and her ultrasound scanning away…scanning….scanning…*puzzled look* “I’m going to go get the radiologist to take a look”

“okay…” *mildly begins freaking out*

The radiologist comes in and she was fantastic, but as she is scanning she tells me that she “thinks” she has found the area where the previous biopsy was done, but the mass is so small now that she’s unsure she can get a good biopsy. She does a bit more scanning and thinking and looking at the previous scans before telling me the biopsy is now going to have to wait until after my last round of chemo and PET scan in order for it to be targeted. The concern being that as soon as they inject the anesthetic she would lose view of the mass on the ultrasound and would not get any of the cancer DNA and I’d have to come back, which neither of us want (probably me more so than her :P)

Obviously I have mixed emotions about that! No biopsy is a win, plus the treatments are working…BUT it means I have to wait even longer for the POG study…

 

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The news

So I found out today it is cancer…I am in complete shock and I don’t really know what I’m feeling. Sadness, anger, worry…

I still don’t know exactly what kind it is, or what the treatment plan will be. My GP told me I will get a call this week to schedule me for an appointment with the oncologist as soon as they are done the testing and know more.

Update to come.

Take care all,

Karen

The beginning

It all started early January 2017….

2017 started off with me setting huge personal goals for myself. It was “no bullshit 2017.” The BIG plan was to become a stronger individual personally, emotionally. To stop letting others walk all over me and take advantage of my good nature. Little did I know, 2017 had even BIGGER plans for me.

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Around the second week in January I noticed a lump in my left breast. It seemed to appear overnight and I promptly made an appointment with my family physician. Scared to high hell I walked into that appointment and was asked a plethora or questions, one of which I felt I had no answer to “is this the first time you’ve noticed the lump?”…well…yes…I think? I give myself regular self exams in the shower, but did I feel something before? Did I miss something? How could I have missed this? With no history of breast cancer in my family, and having just turned 27 my doctor suggested it was likely and infection, gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. I was relieved, but still scared.

After a week or antibiotics, the lump was still there, and I really couldn’t tell…had it gotten better or worse? I went down the black hole that is Google/WebMD (bad, BAD idea), and was in tears shortly after. I made yet another appointment with my GP who then referred me for an ultrasound. Those two weeks of waiting were the longest two weeks of my life.

When I went in for my ultrasound, I was on the verge of crying as I lay there on the table, left breast exposed to the world, gross gel and a wand being crossed over again and again…*snap*…*click, click, click*…*snap*…*click, click, click* as the ultrasound tech took various photos and places markers. She measures the lump (4cm…Jesus.) She tells me she will be back…she needs to get the radiologist to look at my scans. “Great” I think, as my eyes well up, “now I really know something is wrong” (although I could clearly tell something was physically wrong…I didn’t really need the scans to confirm that). As the radiologist comes in, she is ALL business, no time for my jokes (shame..) the only thing she can say is “I’m surprised you’re no in pain” and she does yet another scan, snaps a few more pictures, and tells me the next step is a mammogram of both breasts and a core biopsy…

I get myself all scheduled and I feel oddly okay, maybe numb? I have a history of mental illness, and I have a hard time distinguishing some of my feels (especially that of feeling nothing and feeling okay.) The mammogram was fairly easy, a lot of waiting, not much information.

My biopsy is scheduled for Monday…I’m pretty terrified, but I’ll have the company of my fantastically supportive sister-in-law which makes me feel slightly better.

Update to come after the biopsy….

xoxo

Karen Image result for heart emoji