By Michelle Pammenter Young
Published: June 30, 2011
Editor’a Note: Ever since she was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Michelle Pammenter Young has chronicled her altered life on her blog. I won’t lose to cancer, she says courageously. This is her first blog entry on fighting the cancer.
I’m out on my evening bike ride with Waldo and my husband and my cell phone rings. It’s a long distance call and I’m off work hours so at first I don’t answer it. Then eventually as he keeps calling I am forced to. It’s the Breast Surgeon.
“Michelle, he says, it looks like you have Inflammatory Breast Cancer”
–So how did I get here?
On March 12th, 2012, I went for my very first mammogram. They did my right breast first and the technician forgot to check the calibration on the machine or something, but whatever it was that happened, the machine came down and with a squishing splatting feeling (like that when you squish a really FAT spider), my right breast was crushed.
I screamed in pain and almost passed out. After I was normal again, she re-adjusted the machine and did the left side – low and behold, hardly any pain.
My right breast is tender and there is a distinct golf ball size lump right in the middle. I get a call later that day to come in for a repeat mammogram, but on my left breast, they said my right one was fine, no signs of lumps or anything to be concerned about.
I mentioned the pain, they said to talk to the technician when I came in for second mammogram.
My right breast is now quite tender and the nipple has begun to invert? What’s with that ? !
On March 22, second mammogram on left breast. All good, I ask the technician about the right breast and he said it was probably just a hematoma and should go away on its own
On April 1, I go to the walk-in clinic because the pain is unbearable I am told I have mastitis and am prescribed an antibiotic.
A week later, the pain has moved into my armpit and across my entire breast which is hard as a tennis ball and about the same size.
I go to the emergency, they put me on intravenous antibiotics every 12 hours and order an ultrasound.
On April 11, ultrasound results come in. The appearance of the breast suggests a degree of mastitis!!!
Hello, we’ve already been here, but they don’t listen. After two days of intravenous antibiotics, I am put on another seven day dose of antibiotics.
A month later, I go to see another doctor who finally agrees with me and tells me this is NOT mastitis.
So he refers me to a breast surgeon – that takes 10 days to get in.
I meet with Dr. Bush, nice man, does an exam and suggests we do another ultrasound and schedule an MRI. He said if this was hematoma or fat necrosis, it should get better in the next few months.
Then, there is the call, one that makes me want to believe it’s all a big lie.
Are you kidding? How can that be? It must be a mistake. This is damage from the Mammogram, it has to be, how can it happen at the same time? Something is just not right?
“Sorry, he says, that is what the MRI technician has told me and so I’ve referred you to a special surgeon and Lions Gate”
Okay I say to my husband that night over a bucket load of tears and confusion, this must be a mistake. We’ll go get that biopsy and see what’s going on. Unfortunately I have to wait 5 whole days to get in to see the doctor for the biopsy.
My husband has to go out of town for work, so my sister and my mother come up for a few days, mainly to keep me sane and also to act as a buffer with the children as I am finding it very hard to be around them right now.
I feel like I have failed them. It is my job to raise them and I have no right to leave them while they are this young.
My thoughts over the next few days have been all over the map. I have been in tears for hours, have been laughing with mum about how I’ll finally get to be a blonde and perhaps I’ll get a nice tattoo on my bald head. Oh and the best part, I can eat ALL I want now. I love food and have always been watching what I eat. Now I don’t need to worry about that.
Oh, but this is all a big mistake, right?
On June 4, I meet with the surgeon in North Vancouver.
He confirms it. This is Inflammatory Breast Cancer (there’s that stupid BIG word again), and it’s spread to your lymph nodes and a small biopsy won’t do and, and, and ENOUGH ALREADY!
I shut my mind. Blank, I’m just going to go blank. I’ll do what he says…… general anesthetic…blah blah…..LionsGate…. Thursday….help……..results…..large piece biopsy….what???…..nothing is registering.
All I am thinking is sorry dear husband, sorry kids…..sorry family…sorry….I don’t know what I did wrong??? I’ve really screwed up now, haven’t I ? How do I fix this one?
So today is my last day of somewhat normalcy. Tomorrow I get the full diagnosis and prognosis. I will update the blog when I get time. Right now, I think I’m going to go and drink some wine and relax in the sun with my lovely doggie.