The past week has been filled with researching my diagnosis, scheduling appointments, and touching base with medical staff, as well as our new insurance company. Because of course the year we are dealing with my first breast care scare, we have a brand new insurance plan and company.

This Friday morning I will have a bilateral breast MRI with and without contrast.

The main purpose being to get a better look at the small mass in my left breast that they were unable to biopsy (because of its size) on Friday, January 15th.

I have had one MRI before, though that was of my head (I wore a mask type thing over my face) and I was lying on my back. From what I was told, this one I will by lying on my stomach with my breast in some kind of receptacles.

After that, I have two appointments scheduled for next month with two different specialized breast surgeons.

One with be on Tuesday, February 16th, with the surgeon I was referred to through the Advocate Breast Care Center where I have received my testing and breast care thus far. I have heard wonderful things about this doctor, including from a friend who has had several surgeries performed by her.

The other will be on Monday, February 15th, with the head surgeon of the University of Chicago Breast Center. For the first time in my life, I decided to get a second opinion and she is that.

Another friend, who has personal experience with breast care scares themselves and with close family members, suggested I get another opinion and I took her advice. I do not question the judgement or abilities of those caring for me via the Advocate Breast Care Center. I do appreciate the reasons why it makes sense to get multiple opinions when receiving a fairly rare diagnosis and surgery under anesthesia is involved.

My understanding, if we go with Advocate, is that my surgery will be sometime in March. I have a few trips planned in early and mid-March, so depending on how soon the surgeons think this needs to happen (if they agree as to the plan of action), we may try to get it in before I leave. Though my preference, if my health and wellness is not in danger by waiting, will likely be to do it after Bob and I get back from our first cruise around St. Patrick’s Day.

I realize that this type of tumor, though not apparently cancerous, can be fast growing and can recur. So those two factors, along with learning the results of Friday’s MRI are my biggest concerns.

I am confident in the medical care and recommendations I am getting.

I wish these consultation appointments could’ve been scheduled to take place sooner. However, I have been told both surgeons are in high demand and I had to be “squeezed” in to their schedules to begin with.

I feel grateful that our new insurance covers second opinions and I look forward to finding out if these two specialized breast surgeons see my diagnosis and treatment in the same way.

I will certainly keep you posted.

And an update on my loved one who was also facing a cancer scare, the more we learn the more their situation seems to get better. Cancer is off the table, as well as a few other things we were concerned about. So that is a huge relief.

Please continue to send your positive thoughts and prayers. I am being brave and doing what I can to remain calm and optimistic during this uncertain time.

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I got a call this afternoon letting me know that the pathology from my biopsies on Friday do not appear to be cancer.

The lymph node biopsied in my left armpit was benign with reactive changes. So that is great news and a huge relief.

Last night I had trouble sleeping and started allow my mind to wander into the “what ifs.” I appreciate not having to wait any longer to hear this.

Unfortunately, the mass biopsied in the lower part of my left breast was classified as a low-grade fibroepithelial breast legion, favoring a phyllodes tumor.

They do think it is benign.

However, they recommend it be removed as it will continue to grow, and to try to keep it from local recurrence.

From what was explained to me, and after doing my own research, I understand phyllodes tumors to be fairly rare and rapid growing masses.

Some are benign, some are malignant, and some are borderline.

They can get rather large if they are not removed and can grow back, if enough tissue surrounding them are not removed. When and if they grow back, they can be malignant.

I will still have a bilateral breast MRI next week (between days 7 – 14 of my menstrual cycle) to try to determine is the small mass they were unable to pinpoint and biopsy on Friday is also benign.

The next step after that will be to meet with a specialized breast surgeon that I have been referred to, who mostly deals with breast cancer surgeries, but does also handle removing phyllodes tumors.

I am in the process of scheduling both the MRI and a consult with the breast surgeon. I have placed calls to arrange for both and am waiting to hear back and for orders and referrals to go through. With the MLK Jr. Holiday today, my OB/GYN’s office is closed. So I will check in there tomorrow to get some of this sorted out.

The surgery will likely take place in the next month or two.

In the mean time I will learn more about phyllodes tumors and determine if it makes sense to get a second opinion.

I don’t doubt that it makes sense to have it removed.

Rather I am digesting the news, which thankfully the ultrasound tech on Friday had somewhat prepared me for.

She gave me a heads up that there were other scenarios between “all clear” and “cancer.”

This diagnosis was one and the woman I spoke with today, who explained the pathology report. suggested the tech may have seen the “leaf-like appearance” of the mass, which can be indicative of a phyllodes (which is Greek for leaf-like) tumor.

So that is where I am today.

I am extremely thankful that the pathology for the biopsies done on Friday do not seem to be cancer.

I am still anxious to find out if the small mass that will be looked at through the MRI is benign.

And I am not looking forward to the outpatient surgery, including anesthesia, to remove this tumor.

That said, I am all for be proactive and continue to appreciate the kindness and good care I am receiving from the Advocate Breast Care Center doctors and staff.

Please continue to send your positive thoughts, prayers, love, and support this way.

I will share more about this experience as it plays out.

I believe that putting this out here is worthwhile, as I have done in the past with our journey through secondary infertility and loss.

Though phyllodes tumors are rare, breast care is important and much of what I am going through I am learning is very common. So many have reached out to me to affirm that.

Many thanks to those who have shared your experiences with mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, breast surgeries and even cancer.

We are not alone and if through sharing this here more of you are reminded of that, this is not in vain.

If writing and posting about my experience encourages more of you and your loved ones to be proactive, it is worth it.

I get that there are differing opinions on baselines for breast care these days.

I have read that some believe the medical community has gotten over zealous with their procedures and treatments in the name of breast health and cancer prevention/detection.

That is on my radar and something I intend to learn more about.

This is all still very new to and fresh for me.

As my first/baseline mammogram was not even two weeks ago.

I welcome anything you care to share, including your own experiences with breast care, surgeries, and when and if it makes sense to get second opinions.

Thanks again for reading, for your feedback, and support.

Update: My loved one, who was also anxiously awaiting test results, also got a “its NOT cancer” call today. YAY!!!

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Biopsy Day

January 16, 2016

Yesterday was Biopsy Day. A week ago, when I went for my first baseline mammogram, I never imagined that I would spend yesterday the way I did. My mother-in-law graciously picked me up and drove me to the Advocate Christ Breast Care Center at 8:30 a.m. I am grateful that she was available and willing […]

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Cutting to the Chase

January 11, 2016

On Friday I will have two biopsies done on my left breast (one toward the bottom and the other in my armpit). The results will be available on Monday or Tuesday next week. Six months from now I will also return for a mammogram of my right breast, due to calcium deposits. This was not […]

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