If you asked me last Thursday what I am thankful for, I probably would have said the typical (and I suppose some atypical) things like a husband who rocks-he really does by the way-I'm not just saying that, great friends and family whose small and large gestures of support will never be forgotten (you know who you are-thank you), new friends who I only met because of mutual unfortunate circumstances but whose incredible spirt and zest for life helped me realize how great life can be after treatment which allowed me to (on good days) enjoy life during treatment, a warm home, yummy food, a ton of bikes including a brand new to me used BMX bike, a mischievous and energetic puppy who has turned into a great hiking/running partner, a loyal and tolerant cat who reluctantly puts up with above mentioned pup, a head full of hair, increased energy and strength every single week, and of course being healthy.
Saturday night, my perspective changed pretty quickly when I found a small nodule in my left (non-mastectomy) breast. I tried to stay calm, take a deep breath, and convince myself that it was nothing-stastically 80% of the time it is nothing-but when you have heard the words cancer before there is a new sense of urgency when you find something abnormal. Admittedly, my mind was racing with every potential scenario. I had already decided that I was going to get a mastectomy; obviously my breasts were doomed. I rescheduled my training and race season. Mastectomy in December, on the trainer two weeks later, mountain bike at four weeks, legitimately training at 6 weeks? Oh god, would I need chemo? I was also thinking, perhaps prematurely, what would I do with my work bag? Certainly a sentinel node biopsy would be done and after this procedure one of the precautions (to reduce lymphedema) is to avoid compression on that extremity. The type of compression that a heavy work bag slung over your shoulder provides. I already follow these precautions on my right side....now my left too?
I knew I needed an ultrasound for peace of mind.
So Monday it was back to Huntsman for a mammogram, ultrasound, and exam. The mammogram and ultrasound found nothing abnormal. I was not surprised the mammorgram was negative, mammogram has never been a good diagnostic tool for me, but I was incredibly relieved that the ultrasound showed nothing as well. Phew. My surgical oncologist and NP were able to palpate the nodule, but only when I was in certain positions. Specifically, laying on my right side with my left arm over my head. Anyhow, their best guess is that it is a lymph node, fibrous breast tissue, or part of my pectoralis major muscle. I was told by multiple medical professionals that because I don't have much adipose tissue, that any normal lump or nodule feels more pronounced. The best news. No mastectomy and no need to reschedule my race season. I follow-up in two months. Another phew!!! and a deep sigh of relief.
So....I am still thankful for my above typical (and atypical) list. But I am also reminded in a pretty harsh way that I am mostly thankful, beyond words, that I continue to have no evidence of disease.
On a lighter note, I got my very first post-chemo haircut this week. Like I said, I am thankful to have hair, even if it is short.
I'm also thankful for my brand new used BMX bike. This thing is so cool. It is just asking to be hammered. Whenever I see it in the garage, I have to ride it up and down the street, and visualize pumping it over BMX jumps. It is also the least expensive bike I have ever purchased. It cost less than my first Univega mountain bike that I bought way back in 1994!
My first mountain bike-1994 Univega fully rigid
Brand new to me used Redline BMXer
PS-Huge shout out for the wonderful staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute and although I am very thankful for them, I hope I don't have anymore unplanned appointments with them!