Friday, October 2, 2009

Hell Week

I’ve often heard “waiting is the hardest part,” and never fully appreciated it until this week. I’ve heard it mostly in the context of hearing about a role or an audition. I don’t think I will ever complain about waiting for news as seemingly trivial as that.

In preparing for Singapore I had been doing all the packing, selling and organizing one would normally do as well as catching up on all those doctor appointments you put off from week to week. A dentist appointment, eye doctor (so I don’t have to wear the dirty contacts I’ve had in for months for a year in Singapore,) a physical and a yearly “lady doctor” appointment. Because of my mother having had breast cancer in her mid-thirties, this year my “lady doc” decided to send me off to have my first mammogram. That was the last “to do” on my list. Probably out of fear, but nonetheless, I did it.

After having my girls smashed to smithorines I put it out of my mind and didn’t even think about it until 4 days later when I got a call from my doctor. I thought it was because I have a forty dollar deductible I still hadn’t been able to pay so I picked up the phone ready to explain that the check was in the mail. Instead I was informed that the radiologist needed further screenings because they found a cluster of calcifications in my left breast and a 4 cm area of questionable tissue in my right breast. I have often felt that it was just a matter of time with my vast family history of cancer, but I didn’t realize how close that “time” might be.

I was told this wasn’t unusual for a first mammogram. They don’t have other pictures to compare it to so they need to be thorough. I went back to the Breast Health Center. I had about 8 more x-rays of each breast. The technician leaves the room to see what the radiologist says. She comes back in and says, “We need a few more.” About 6 more pictures later, I felt like my funbags were completely numb at that point. Then the radiologist comes in to tell me that the good news is the right breast is fine. I just have very dense tissue and once he got more pictures he wasn’t worried about it. The bad news is that the cluster of calcifications in my left breast is questionable and possibly precancerous. I will have to get a biopsy to know whether or not everything is okay. He layed that on me, turned on his heel and headed right out the door. And, there was a total of THREE people who said the phrase, “Your breast tissue is very dense because you’ve never had children.” That didn’t make me feel old and barren at all. Not one bit.

Then, I had to wait another 5 days for the biopsy because the soonest they could fit me in was Wednesday morning, the day we were leaving for Florida. The night before we were supposed to have our going away party which is why it was cancelled. I felt bad for not explaining but, at the time, with no answers, I was having a hard time with everything and didn’t want to say it all out loud over and over again. I didn’t want to put the “sad Erin” vibes out into the universe.

The biopsy was not a fun experience. You lay on a table, face down, boob through a hole in a compression clamp, and you are about 6 feet in the air. My boob was shot up with local anesthetic, an incision is made and they put a large needle in to extract a sample of the calcifications. There’s not much more disconcerting then putting a body part through a hole and having it poked, prodded and punctured. They also leave a small clip in my breast so they know the spot where they took the biopsy in future mammograms.

I went back to my practically empty apartment and waited until our flight that night with an ice pack on my tit. Poor Del had to finish up everything to get the apartment ready for us to leave, including selling the rest of our furniture (or giving it away in some cases.) I tried to do some things (because I’m extremely stubborn) and ended up making myself bleed and causing lots of pain. We flew home that night but I have to say, from the moment my doctor called that first time, I wasn’t myself. And now that I was waiting for the biopsy results it got even worse. You always think the worst.

I was told I wouldn’t know for 2 to 3 days which meant Friday or MONDAY at the latest. This is when I realized that waiting really sucks. It may not be the hardest part, but it certainly feels like it for someone who doesn’t deal well with grey areas. I feel like I’ve always needed to know “the next step,” so I could tackle it and do all I can. When I am just waiting and have nothing to do but think about the “what ifs” I am miserable.

Tonight, a day early, my doctors office called and told me the calcifications came back benign! I was surrounded by my mom and dad and we all just cried out of joy and relief. There is something they found, called a scientific name I can’t remember (they are emailing me the paperwork) which I have to be very aware of, but I’m okay for now. Thank God.

I will say it has made me realize, if the test hadn’t been benign, it would have royally sucked, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. My friend, and a breast cancer survivor, Christy Wurzbach said to me, “Either way, it’s going to be okay.” And coming from someone who can speak from experience, I realized she was right. This time, I got the results I wanted to hear, but if I don’t next time, it will be okay.

Thank you to the few who happened to know what was going on for one reason or another. Your support and prayers made me feel so much better, you have no idea.

And FINALLY, after months of contract renegotiations, work visa stuff and health scares, I get to be excited about Singapore!!!!


  1. I'm speechless....yet so happy your okay! Things in life are never as they seem, but you know you always have good friends and family to help you through it. Can't wait to see you, so much to catch up on....

  2. so scary!!! really glad that you are ok!