Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgivings

I thought about just returning to blogging by ignoring that I've been gone for the past few weeks, but today is Thanksgiving and the past couple of weeks have given me much to be thankful for. Two weeks ago I went in for a routine checkup and my doctor found a suspicious lump in a breast. Since, within the past year, two people I knew from my graduate school were diagnosed with breast cancer, I was obviously worried. I embarked on an adventure in modern medical technology that I had not really been exposed to before; other than some stitches and a broken arm as a child, I have never really needed medical attention. It is truly amazing what can be done these days. I had my first mammogram and ultrasound....the ultrasound in particular amazes me. I have to admit, to me it kinda looked like my TV had gone on the fritz but I believe them when they say that some weird lines really are ducts. I have been poked and prodded by an amazing array of people and have become slightly blasé about baring my breasts to strangers. (General Disarray suggests that this might not be long-term acceptable and should definitely not be transported into other areas of my life such as committee meetings, lectures, etc). To add to the stress of the entire event, I traveled and gave a seminar in a high-powered department in my field. Let me tell you, though, there's nothing like being worried about having cancer to make a slightly aggressive question about one's research seem less important!

I went in for a surgical consult this week and, given my mammogram, ultrasound (both were apparently clean), age, family history, and the "feel" of the offending piece of tissue, the surgeon was "reasonably confident" that there was no need to even conduct a biopsy (actually, it was so small that they would have had to do a lumpectomy). I figure if a surgeon doesn't think they can justify cutting into you, you must be in pretty good shape. Some follow-up visits to make sure the lump doesn't change and that's it. So, as I said above, I have a lot to be thankful for. First, I'm thankful that I don't have cancer (that's a no brainer) and can spend a peaceful Thanksgiving with my wonderful husband who tried to keep me from worrying too much by quoting statistics to me as proof of why I obviously didn't have cancer. I am also thankful for medical advances which helped both my friends who did have cancer this past year to fight theirs - allowing them to also enjoy this Thanksgiving, and hopefully many many more, with their loved ones.

So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

(And Nat, best wishes on the birth of your daughter today!!)


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Oh, what a horrible stressful few weeks. I'm glad you're OK and hope this post will help remind people of the importance of regular check-ups. I had a positive pap test result a couple of years ago and had to have biopsies etc. - not pleasant but all clear, and now I'm quite evangelical about making my female friends and relatives go for their exams.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Professor in Training said...

I'm so glad to hear that everything's ok. My mom had breast cancer (she's in remission) so your recent experience is something I'm very fearful of but makes me appreciate life just that little bit more.

Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully you won't have to bare your breasts over dinner today :)

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nat Blair said...

Ugh, how awful. Definitely it seems to have ended with a reason to be thankful.

As for my daughter, she's turning out to be as ornery as her older brother, and refused to cooperate today. So we're still waiting.

Isis the Scientist said...

River, I thought about sending this to you privately in an email but figured "fuck it." I typically have no shame talking about my breasts, so what start now?

I had breast surgery about 4 years ago to remove some suspicious ductal tissue and a few papillomas. I was relieved when I learned that none of what they removed was malignant, and I had a surgeon who left me with a scar that would have to be pointed out for you to see (inspite of the large amount of tissue they removed and replaced with fat). Now, I can feel one nipple less than the other and nurse largely on only one side but I am thankful for the positive outcome. Still, waiting for the pathology was the most gut-wrentching time of my life. Mama Isis died when I was a teenager and this experience put the pathophysiology I study into context -- that these events happen to real people.

Anyway, I realize that I am rambling, but if I could I would offer you a hug, blog sister. I am so happy to hear that this turned out alright for you. A very, very Happy Thanksgiving to you and General Disarray.

And, if you ask me, you have all the more reason to bare your breasts at dinner.

drdrA said...

RT- DrMrA had a biopsy also in recent weeks, that came with a couple of very stressful weeks waiting for the path report.

I'm glad that you are fine, these things are so scary.

Happy Thanksgiving!

River Tam said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words!

Cath@VWXYNot?: Agree 100%. I actually didn't do my annual exam last year because I was "too busy" and kept thinking about how horrible it would be if I had allowed cancer to go untreated for over a year. Puts being "too busy" into a more healthy perspective. Won't do that again!!

PiT: The only breasts that were bared over dinner were the turkey's - but I think General Disarray was hopeful!

Isis: thank you in particular for sharing your story. Part of the reason I shared mine was that I found it difficult to find information on how often women find lumps in their breasts that are actually nothing serious. Because of my friends, the only data I had was 2 lumps=2 cancer diagnoses. I wanted to share a story that did not end that way. Thanks for adding yours too!!

Nat: OMG, has your wife been in labor that whole time? You should be very very nice to her (though I am sure you are already! 8) )

CPP: nice to see you again!!

Anonymous said...

Glad everything is Ok. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Nat Blair said...

Egads, no, luckily no week long labor! More like week long bedrest after a prematurely ruptured membranes.

But the girl is doing well. I guess she just didn't want to be delivered on Thanksgiving!

River Tam said...

Oh, thank goodness. Bed rest would drive me crazy but its gotta be better than week long labor.

Candid Engineer said...

River Tam- So glad that all is okay. When I was much younger (maybe 20?), my doctor also found a suspicious lump. I had a mammogram and fortunately was cleared to go. I am glad that the doctor took time to examine something that others may have overlooked, and I, too, was very thankful that we have the technologies that help us understand what's happening inside of our bodies.