W.O.L.F. Sector
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

News Archive for August 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breast Cancer Scare

Written by Kodi Wolf at 3:22 PM

Shortly after my last post, my wife found a lump in her breast. In the past, she's been diagnosed with fibroids, so we weren't too worried, but we were both very anxious to get her checked out.

Well, she was due for her annual mammogram anyway, so she showed up at the mobile screening bus for her appointment and told them what she'd found. They immediately said they couldn't see her because what she needed was a diagnostic exam and they only did screenings. So she called her primary care physician and left a message on their answering service to let them know what the mobile techs had said about her needing a diagnostic exam. A week and a half later, she still hadn't heard back, so she called again and they finally got back to her. They made an appointment with the local Breast Center for the following week.

I went with her, along with one of her co-workers, for support and we sat out in the waiting room for an hour while Corene had mammograms done on both her breasts. The lump she had found was in her right breast, but after that first round of mammograms, the doctor became more concerned about what she saw in the left breast, so she ordered another mammogram for that breast. Then when that wasn't conclusive, she ordered an ultrasound for both breasts. With that done, Corene was told by the doctor that what Corene had found in her right breast appeared to just be some inflammation and was nothing to worry about. However, what the doctor had found in Corene's left breast concerned her, so she wanted to take a look at Corene's past mammograms for reference. The doctor said she would call in a few days once she'd seen the films from the clinic.

The following week, they called the home phone and left a message saying something along the lines of, "We need you to call us back so we can discuss your results," which scared the crap out of me. I immediately called Corene at work and told her to call them and then call me back and tell me what they'd found.

Corene called me back and said that the doctor wanted her to come back in for another mammogram, which would be performed by the doctor herself using a different technique. Corene went back in the following Wednesday, but the mammogram was still inconclusive. So the doctor scheduled Corene for a needle biopsy the next day because we were supposed to be leaving for vacation on Friday and neither of us wanted this hanging over our heads the whole time.

The needle biopsy was basically performed by having Corene lay face down on a table with a hole in it for her breast. A mammogram machine was clamped on to her breast and used to guide the needle to the proper place to take tissue samples after a small incision was made for the needle (they used local anesthesia, so Corene was awake the whole time, but never felt anything). An extremely small titanium barbell was placed at the site in case the biopsy was inconclusive. If that happened, the next step would be to call in a surgeon to take more tissue samples and the barbell would let the surgeon know where the previous samples had been taken.

The biopsy was supposed to take an hour and a half, but Corene started bleeding "excessively," so they kept her in the machine a little longer to continue to apply compression to help stop the flow of blood. It stopped, but when they had her try to move a little, it started right back up, so they kept her in even longer. Eventually, the bleeding stopped and they got her up and put an ice pack and compression bandage on her.

After two hours, they finally called me back to the room and let me know how it had all gone. Corene would need to keep the compression bandage on until bedtime (or at least until around 8 or 9pm) and she should do the mini ice packs every hour. And no aspirin or ibuprofen due to the bleeding issue. The doctor said we should call around 11am the next day to find out the results.

She said there were three possibilities. On one end, the results might be conclusive for cancer and we would make a plan for what the next steps would be to deal with that. On the other end, the results might be conclusively benign and that would be the end of it. But in the middle, the results might be inconclusive and then we'd need to schedule Corene for a more thorough surgical biopsy. No matter what, though, we would have a plan. I really liked how reassuring the doctor was. It helped.

I also made sure to remind Corene (and myself) that we were going on vacation to be with my family, so if it turned out she had cancer, we were going where we would get the most support. And if everything was fine, we'd have a great story to tell, since we hadn't let anyone know what was going on because we didn't have any results yet. Even if the results were inconclusive, we were at least one step closer to getting there.

Then it was just a waiting game as Corene and I basically tried not to think about what the results might be and instead tried to focus on the fact that we were supposed to be leaving on vacation in less than 24 hours and we were nowhere close to being ready.

The next morning, the phone rang at 9:15am. We were waiting for a call from our vet, since Felix has been having digestive issues, so we thought it was probably the vet, but it turned out to be the doctor's assistant. She asked how Corene was doing and Corene said she was okay. Then the assistant asked if we were packed yet and Corene said no, not yet. That's when the tech said, "Well why not? Because you have absolutely no reason to hang around here. Your results were completely benign." She went on to say it was conclusively new fibroid tissue, since it hadn't shown up on any previous scans. So everything was fine. She also said they were going to schedule Corene for a 6-month follow-up mammogram just to make sure they stayed on top of it.

Getting that news was a huge relief and we are both so grateful that it all turned out okay. We're also very impressed with how the people at the Breast Center worked with us and our timeline to get everything done before we needed to leave. Corene is so happy with how thorough they were that she's already decided to have all her future mammograms done with them instead of the mobile unit.

So, as you may have guessed, my mind hasn't really been on writing this past couple of months, hence the nearly complete lack of progress reports for July and August. But now that the danger seems to have passed, my brain has been getting more and more interested in writing again. I've found several new books that have really sparked my creativity, and I've also been enjoying talking about my stories with my sister, who's been helping me with some of the research I've been doing for Lights of Life (more on all that in my next post).

I hope everyone else is having a great summer, and I'll write more soon.