Category Archives: biopsy

Cheryll’s Story , Part 2

Cheryll's Story... The cross is for my faith in God. The pink heart is for my compassion for others with breast cancer. The word 'hope' stands for always having HOPE. The pink ribbon is in honor those who lost their lives to breast cancer. The pink crystal is my reminder to stay grounded and stay in faith that God has this and every part of my life in his plan.
Cheryll’s Story…

This is part 2 of my sister’s story.  I admire her courage.

“Two days later, my gynecologist was calling me. The nurse told me that the doctor would call me, but I know something wasn’t right when I had a message from my gynecologist office. They called me on the 16th of Oct. to come into the office the next day. I told her that was impossible, I had started a new job in June and I can’t take the time. I told her to just let me know now. She kept saying you need to come in, after going back and forth she finally relented and said again, you know I don’t want to do this over the phone.

I told her I had cancer 23 years ago and I am going to act fast and attack, so… I said, ” Tell me now!!! ….I have breast cancer, right?” she said, “Pathology confirmed that you have breast cancer and I have an appointment set up for you tomorrow to see the surgeon”.

I thanked her.  I was shocked, but there is an underlying story and other things which are converging into this story which I can’t go into right now. I knew in that moment that the Lord was with me, without a doubt.  I was at work when she told me and for a brief second a tear came to my eyes and a big lump formed in my throat, but it was very short-lived. I shook it off, my boss asked if I was okay, I answered with a shaky voice, yes, are you sure she said,  and at that moment my yes was firm and sure, I was quite sure that all would be fine and I told her so. I had such peace, such knowing and no fear that I knew everything was going to be fine.

Later, I would end up telling my sister the same thing and she recognized that I had no fear. Again, other things were going on in the background, so I was confident and not fearful.  The next day I was in the surgeon’s office with my husband and my mom to discuss procedures. We reviewed options and a lumpectomy was a good choice. My cancer was stage 0 and had not broken out of the duct and had an intermediate growth rate. I really didn’t want surgery since the cancer had not broken out of the duct, but the doctor stressed the point that we can’t be sure that it didn’t spread. Cancer being what it is in microscopic form it could have traveled.

So far I felt that the news was fantastic and that proceeding with the surgery is the best precaution.  We met with the scheduling nurse and told her to get started with everything right away, I wanted this lumpectomy to be done before year-end. We set up the test within 2 weeks for the mapping, blood work and such on Nov 9, 2014. They also reviewed my lymph nodes to be sure we didn’t have to remove those also, which turned out to be fine.

The surgery was scheduled 3 weeks later for Dec 2, 2014. Everything went well, and again within a couple of days we found out that the lump had no cancer, not only within the ranges or the margins as it is called, but there was no cancer in the entire lump. This was of course a marvelous blessing.

There were many things going on in the background and I know that the Lord God had everything under control and that He had touched my body. I had a close friend pray for me and we claimed my healing in the name of Jesus which was towards the end of August after the initial meeting with the radiologists and I know again that all would be well.  A few weeks later as I was lying in bed praying, I felt the Lord touch my body and a beautiful sensation went through my chest and I knew without a doubt that I had been wiped clean.

Being human, we seem to wait to be told the news from doctors, surgeon and various professionals that all is well, but I knew all was well.  Now I had to go thru radiation to make sure that there was definitely no residual cancer left behind.  Precaution is the important word here. The surgeons nurse described this procedure as necessary, like using all the ingredients for a cake.  You cannot leave something out and get the recipe right, so radiation is the rest of the recipe.

Many things happen on several different levels in our lives, and it’s God working us, proving us, sharpening our faith , walking and talking to us , preparing us, so.. so.. so many things go on that we are blissfully unaware of until we see it all come together. Again these are the under currents in the Christian life.  They go on in the unseen spaces of our lives. I was shocked at first and there was a reason for that, yet I automatically knew all was going to be okay.

My sister Cheryll
My sister Cheryll

It was shock, then knowing immediately, no fear, no problem, I will be victorious only because the Lord God is in control and it’s all okay.  It is very simple, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, I am going to be okay. The resolve was simply, I am okay whether I am in heaven or I am kept here for a while longer on the earth by His grace. I did not allow fear to disrupt my home life, my husband came home, I told him about the news, told him it’s going to be fine. He had a shaking in his voice, I said,  “ Ugh ugh, no It is going to be okay” and didn’t miss a beat, prepared dinner, sat down and continued to say It’s all okay. I am an attacker, we are going for it, so let’s not worry about it. That is just what we did and my husband was with me all the way. I am thankful and grateful for my mom who was a tower of strength. If she ever doubted, she didn’t let me know.  I am thankful for my husband.  He handled it well, and he did well because I handled it well, and I did well because God already handled it well. God handled everything to perfection.  Be blessed. Cheryll”

Thank you, Cheryll for sharing your story. I am so thankful that Cheryll shared her story.  I hope it helps someone you know.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be blessed.

Laura

Cheryll’s Story, Part 1

My sister Cheryll
My sister Cheryll

I invited my sister to tell her story today.  I hope it brings awareness to breast cancer.

“I went for my annual mammogram which this year turned out to be a 20 month wait from my previous mammogram. I was blindsided, I was sitting in the little waiting room area and was talking to a wonderful, sweet spirited women that was in a wheel chair and she told me  that she had breast cancer 5 times. She was hoping today that her mammogram would come back clear so that she would not have to go through this again. Well, I of course said that I agreed with her and said I would pray for her so that she wouldn’t have to go through all this again and all of a sudden my name was called.

I said, “Well it looks like now I have to go see what’s happening with me!” She wished me well.  I stepped into the radiologist’s office and she was sitting in front of a computer and a screen that was huge. My images were on the screen. She asked me to sit down and mentioned that these were my results from today and she said, “Here is a cluster and it is very suspicious!!” There it was, bam, right between the eyes. I sure didn’t see this coming. I was waiting for the “All is good” news you can get dressed and see you next year and now I hear, “you are going to need to go get a biopsy because it doesn’t look right”.

I said, :NO!, No, No, just No” I was shaking my head no and she said, “What do you mean, No?! “Listen this is a cluster. This is not a little round dot like you see here or another one over here. This dot you had here has grown into little shards. See these?” She pointed out the elongated specs and I could see that she was right. She knew what she was looking at. I just kept saying, ” No, no, and no” She said, “Look if you were my sister, I would tell you that you need to go right away for the biopsy. I am going to have my head nurse talk to you to let you know what the procedures are.”

Her nurse greeted me and took me in her office and we set up the biopsy.  There were weight issue’s with me in regards to the table and I had to drop a few pounds for the safety of others and myself. I understood and walked out in a daze. I called my sister about 3 weeks later to bring her up to speed on what was happening up to this point. She had reassuring words for me and said she would be praying for me. She really opened up to me about her situation, which was the first time I had any information about what she went through.  I was glad for the talk and the information, I needed her and was glad to have her input.  I dropped weight and scheduled the biopsy 7 weeks later and had the procedure done in their office.” Cheryll

The rest of Cheryll’s story will be published Thursday.  I want to encourage woman everywhere to schedule and follow through with their yearly mammograms and other health screenings.  Early detection saves lives.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Twice Sisters

I'm on the left. (Laura) My sister is on the right. (Cheryll)
I’m on the left. (Laura)
My sister is on the right. (Cheryll)

My sister and I are ‘twice sisters’ meaning we are blood sisters (born sisters) and pink sisters.  Both of us have been personally affected  by breast cancer which makes us pink sisters.  In September/October of 2014, my sister called me to tell me that her mammogram was flagged and the radiologist really wanted to do a biopsy because she saw a cluster of cells.  I told her that the majority of biopsies turn out to be benign and my motto was..’Don’t worry until you need to’.  Now, we all know that is almost impossible but I really try to practice the concept.

Cheryll had a real peace about the whole process.  It seemed like a lifetime had passed from the first call about the biopsy to the results call.  In the meantime, I prayed and prayed and prayed!!

She had just started a new job and I prayed to God that she would be okay and not have to join the Breast Cancer Survivor group.  I have traveled that road.  I was diagnosed the day after Christmas in 2008 with Stage 3a, Grade 3, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  I prayed that she would not have to go down that road and that she would never have to endure chemotherapy and radiation. I prayed for a clear report.

When she received the biopsy report, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was devastated.  I thought I took the bullet for the family. I cried. I cried for her.  Then  I prayed…okay God, if she has to have this diagnosis, I pray they caught it early.

Thankfully, they caught it early at Stage 0. She would only need a lumpectomy and radiation. The doctor was amazed and told her that it was unbelievable that it was only Stage 0. Regardless of what stage the breast cancer is a 1, 2, 3, or 4, a diagnosis brings so much more with it. Not only does it take a toll on you physically but it takes a toll on you emotionally and psychologically. It’s not like a root canal that you fix it in 2-3 visits to the dentist.

Okay…my view/opinion about breast cancer… the very hormone, estrogen, that defines you as a woman ends up globbing together with other estrogen cells to become breast cancer. So the very hormone that makes you a woman, trys to kill you, and the treatment robs you of your hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and so much more. I hope you can infer that I find this entire concept, hideous, outrageous and unacceptable. However, I can’t change that so I will only give it this small paragraph.

I am glad to report that Cheryll is cancer free.  I have invited her to guest blog. I hope she is able to share her story soon.  I am blessed to have her as my sister and now we are twice sisters.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

My Miracle Report

On 12/26/14, I will be a 6 year breast cancer survivor.  Thank God!
On 12/26/14, I will be a 6 year breast cancer survivor. Thank God!

My first week of recovery went well.  Victory church, my home church, provided meals the week after surgery and that was a great blessing.  Doug, my girls and my mom took turns checking on me.

Post-Op Visit

My post-op visit was scheduled approximately one week after my surgery.  During that visit, I saw the plastic surgeon and the breast surgeon.  First, the plastic surgeon’s nurse removed the gauze, mummy bandages.  Then, the plastic surgeon examined 8 of the 10 incisions.  Everything looked good so the nurse removed a few stitches which wasn’t the most pleasant experience but all in all, I was making great progress. Then the pain pump was removed.

Next, the breast surgeon came in to examine me.  She looked at the incisions and focused on the right axilla, underarm.  She asked me to lift my arm as high as I could so I hesitantly lifted my arm about half way in the air.  Then she took my arm and pulled it straight up.  I just knew my stitches were going to burst but they didn’t.  She gave me some exercises to do every day to help me regain full range of motion.

Pathology Report

Then she began to explain the pathology report. In the right axilla. she removed all lymph nodes that she could see and she dug around in there to get as many lymph nodes as she could reach. Below is a summary of the conversation:

  • Dr. “I didn’t find anything.”
  • Me “You didn’t get the cancer?”
  • Dr. “It was gone.”
  • Me “What do you mean?”
  • Dr. “I removed 20+ lymph nodes and there were two that were necrotic.”  “They were the size of a regular lymph node.”
  • Me “I don’t understand.”
  • Dr. “I found the two lymph nodes that were tagged during the biopsy but the cancer cells were dead and the lymph nodes were the size of a normal lymph node.”

(First, in case someone has not followed the entire blog, when I was diagnosed there were two tumors in the right axilla.  One was the size of a AA battery and the other one was the size of 1/2 of a AA battery. Now, they not only contained dead cells but they were the size of a normal lymph node, which was a significant change.)

The news really didn’t register with me at that time.  My Hematologist-Oncologist (Dr. Wonderful), refers to it as a ‘complete response to chemo‘. Every time a doctor says that   I say, “…or a miracle.” Some doctors give me a smile and other remain stoic.

One More Surgery

Next, the breast surgeon explained the results from the lumpectomy/reduction of the right breast.  The tumor in the right breast was busted into small pieces.  The pathology report reflected that it looked like buckshot in the tissue, scattered everywhere. They were just the size of little pencil dots.  So there was no lump to remove.  I am still amazed at the outcome.  However, the pathology report did not confirm that there was a clear margin of healthy tissue so I needed an additional surgery known as a ‘margin revision’.

The surgical drains remained in place and the nurse wrapped me in a garment similar to a tube top except it had to be very snug to hold the drains in place. Doug and I went home and processed all of that information.  Now I realize why the ultrasound technician was shocked with my progress.  It was a truly unbelievable response.  It was MY MIRACLE.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed!

An Unbelievable Report

It was unbelievable news!
It was unbelievable news!

A few days before my surgery, the breast surgeon ordered an ultrasound of my right breast and right axilla, under arm, so she could know the progress I had made with chemotherapy. I went to the Women’s Center and sat down until it was my turn.  When I was called, I changed into the robe and sat in the next waiting room. All of the ladies sat there awkwardly and tried not to stare at each other.  Then my name was called and I walked down the hall to the another waiting room.  One thing I have learned through all of these medical appointments is that you hurry up to get there and wait.

Finally, I was called to the room where the ultrasound would take place.  I recognized the technician.  She was the one who was guiding the ultrasound machine during my biopsy.  I laid down on the table and she began the ultrasound of the right breast, snapping pictures rapidly and then on to the right axilla (under arm) where she took even more pictures rapidly.

The Ultrasound

Our conversation went like this:

Tech – You must have had some good chemo.

Me – Chemo and prayer

Tech – Yeah, that positive thinking, meditation and prayer stuff works to help people remain positive through this.

….and she walked out of the room to talk to the doctor

Doctor – Do you remember us?  We did your biopsy.

Me – Yes, I remember you.

Doctor – You have made good progress.  Your tumors were very large and they have significantly changed.

Me – I believe in prayer and miracles.

The doctor just looked at me and finished writing her notes.  They both left the room and I got dressed.

My Response

When I got to my car, I just sat there and cried tears of joy.  Just a few weeks ago I was fussing at God for having to go through this and now I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.  I was not deserving of His grace.  I called Doug and told him the good news and explained that I was crying tears of joy.  I sat there at least 10 minutes to regain my composure.

I knew that I would have good results from the surgery and this was just the confirmation that I needed.  God is so good!

I invite you to follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope

Be Blessed.

The Diagnosis

 

Our Christmas tree
Our Christmas tree

Monday, December 29, 2008, I went to see the Surgical Oncologist.  As I sat in the waiting room, I saw despair on the faces of so many people.  While I was waiting for my name to be called, I prayed for everyone in there.  I prayed silent prayers that God would intervene in each of their situations.  In 1 Thessolonians 5:17, the Bible tells us that we should pray continually.  I would learn the true meaning and impact of this scripture as I was about to face the biggest challenge of my life.

Surgical Oncologist

Laura Starner… the nurse called my name.  I gathered my belongings and walked back to the exam room.  Doug and my mom followed me. The doctor was very matter of fact.  He began… so you are aware that you have breast cancer. Doug and my mom stepped out of the office so he could examine me.  After the examination, they came back in the room. He continued…. well at least it’s breast cancer.  You are lucky that it is just breast cancer because most patients live at least five years. It is the best cancer to have.

Did I just hear him correctly?  There is a best cancer to have?  Really?  I’m sure he meant… most curable or from a medical stand point, most advanced in diagnosing.  Surely, he can’t think it’s good to have cancer.

He went on to give us facts:

Three tumors… one in the right breast about half the size of a AA battery, two in the right axilla, one was about the size of a AA battery and the second was about half the size of a AA battery

Stage 3…very aggressive because if it wasn’t there on your last mammogram then it is fast moving

Since it was already in the lymph nodes, needed a Bone Scan and PET Scan to make sure it hasn’t spread to the bone, liver or lungs

I just sat there numb, wishing my mom was not hearing this information.  I wanted to protect her from the bad news. Doug would be positive and draw on his faith but nobody wants to hear this about their child.

The Oncologist asked me which chemo doctor I wanted to see. He went on to explain that there were two very renowned, traditional male doctors and one female doctor.  I asked him if the female doctor had a daughter. He said, “I don’t know.  I will check for you.” When he came back in he said, “Yes, she has a daughter and she will see you Wednesday because we need to get things started.”  He said, “I’m just curious.  Why did you ask if she had a daughter?” I replied, “Because I want her to treat me as if she would treat her daughter if she was sick.” To that he replied, “I never thought of it that way.”

Before we left his office, I had an appointment with the Oncologist-Hematologist, chemo doctor, and for a port insertion surgery.  That would be my last visit with him because I changed to a surgeon who specialized only in breast cancer.  When we got outside, we all went separate ways.  Mom went to the church, Doug went to Publix to get food and I drove home all by myself with a feeling of utter disbelief.  In retrospect, on December 29, 2008, I became my advocate, started researching doctors and surgery options.

Forever Changed

It was a normal morning in November of 2008.  I was in the shower getting ready for the day.  I reached for my loofah (bath sponge) and shower gel.  No loofah!  It was across the bathroom in the tub and I was in a hurry so I just put some shower gel in my hand.  As I moved my hand under my right arm, I felt a lump.  I thought to myself…that’s odd.  Then I compared it to the left side and something was definitely different with my right side.  I quickly got dressed and went to work.  I was the only administrator at school that day so I had no other option.  By the time I was able to contact my primary care doctor, I had an appointment for the first week in December.  My primary care doctor sent me for a CAT scan suspecting that it was lymphoma and a mammogram just to be on the safe side.  I just had a mammogram in March and I was very vigilant to get one every year. During the mammogram, a lump was detected in my right breast and two suspicious masses in my right axilla (under arm). The radiologists wanted to do biopsies that day but I was in shock.  I can still see myself to this day crouched in the corner of that room as she insisted I get the biopsy right then.  I scheduled a biopsy before I left. In the meantime, I got ready for Christmas and for Paige’s (my eldest daughter) graduation from nursing school. I only told my husband and my dear friend Moe.  They were my immediate support.

Paige and I at her graduation from nursing school
Paige and I at her graduation from nursing school

Biopsy Results

On December 26, 2008, the day after Christmas, I was in my car on my way to shop for some after Christmas deals when I received a call from my doctor’s nurse.  She asked if I had been contacted regarding my biopsy results.  I told her that no one had called yet.  She said that my doctor was out of town but she would have the doctor on call contact me later that day.  The call came that afternoon while I was at home with Kelsey, my youngest daughter.  The doctor told me that I had breast cancer!  He was very apologetic for delivering the news over the phone.  Of course I was full of questions like… How bad is it?  What stage is it?  What now?  He told me that he didn’t know how to read the pathology report but that he didn’t want me to worry.  (Really?  Didn’t want me to worry?)  He went on to say that many of his patients were 10, 20 and even 30 years breast cancer survivors. An appointment was scheduled with a Surgical Oncologist for Monday.  It was Friday and I had to wait until Monday to find out details.  All I could think about was how would I tell my husband, children, mother, other family members and friends.

After I hung up the phone, tears streamed down my face. I sat in the front room and stared out the window and I prayed!  I remembered a song that we used to sing in church when I was a little girl.

Peace, peace, wonderful peace coming down from the Father above.

Sweep over my spirit forever I pray in fathomless billows of love.

You see…I am a believer…a Christian…a person of strong faith and I prayed….

Telling Others of My Diagnosis

When Doug came home from work, I told him that I indeed had breast cancer.  I don’t remember his full reaction but I know he told me that everything would be alright.  We told the girls that night and I totally recall their reaction.  Kelsey (17), my youngest, just sat there and looked at me and Paige (21), the eldest, said, “So you are going to die?”   I replied, “I don’t plan to die.  God will heal me.” The next night Doug and I went to tell my mom.  I didn’t want to give her that news over the phone.  Doug’s side of the family was in New Mexico so I had to tell them by phone.

It was a long weekend.