Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Big C

I have the Big C the kind of which is destined to rapidly approach the Big D very soon. The Big C is Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). A particularly nasty and ferocious type of cancer and one not well known. IBC represents 1-3% (some sources say as much as 6%) of all breast cancers making it a rare and dangerous ruffian. It does not usually present as a lump, although that is what led me to pursue a doctor visit.

I had a spot on my right breast where my cats had jumped on me - twice. It was bruised and sore for a few weeks then seemed to heal. That was in late March.

In April, I had a lump form in about the same place. It was very hard and very easy to palpitate. Thinking that I had a cyst form from some deep bruising, I kept checking it and wasn't all that worried because I could move it and pinch the skin on top of it. Cancer tumors are not supposed to be able to move and you're not supposed to be able to pull the skin around them.

July came and the lump became rock hard, large enough to see pushing up against the skin of my breast. No pain, but the breast around it was tender. I knew I should get it looked at, but was crazy busy with life and my insane insomnia kept me up all hours of the night so that I could not function during the day. By August, friends were badgering me to go get it checked and I promised I would.

The last week of August, an itchy red, raised area appeared on the underside of my breast close to my arm pit. With my mirror, I could see that my pores looked like someone had reamed them out with an ice pick and the adjoining skin was rough and rippled. This was August 25th.
I couldn't get an appointment for two weeks. The redness, swelling and roughness spread to my nipple then up to cover the area where the lump was. My nipple started feeling like leather, began turning inwards, and the itching drove me nuts over the weekend. I decided not to wait for the appointment and walked into my clinic on September 1st.

My GP prescribed Keflex anitbiotic just in case it was a bug bite. I knew better and so did he. He's been to school and specialized in oncology before he came over to general practice. I'd spent hours on the internet Googling skin rashes, spider/insect bites, contact dermatitis and breast skin disorders. I hit the images toggle and there was my breast, second row down, second picture from the left. The picture title was "Inflammatory Breast Cancer".

By the time I got to see the doctor, I had a pretty good idea that the antibiotic wasn't going to do dick. And it didn't disappoint. My follow up was September 10th. I said, "This is the bad one, isn't it"?

"It may be," he said noncommitally. I saw the look exchanged between him and the nurse. He told me I'd had to have a diagnostic mammogram and that he was referring me to a breast specialist. I resist.

Mammograms are a tiger with a diamond studded collar to me. It may be touted as cutting edge diagnostic, but it's a wild card. Why bombard an area prone to cancer already with a known carcinogen? I don't see any radiologists or other medical professionals moving to Chernobyl so I gave mammos up for Lent seeing as how the ones I did have I suspected of destroying some perfectly movie star stand up bosom musculature that were my pride and joy. Also. I was immediately scheduled for a sonogram and then an MRI after each and every mammo. Why not cut to the chase and save some time and money?

"An oncologist, right?" I asked just to clarify. "Yes". I give in to the diagnostic mammo since I cannot see an oncologist and get a definitive diagnosis until I do.

I'm sitting in the hall next to his office and I hear the conversation he has on the phone talking to the scheduling clerk. "The referral is rule out IBC with palpable mass". I know what that stands for.

To be continued.


Vikki North said...

I'm so sorry sweet Dina. I'll give you a call in the next week. All my prayers and good thoughts are with you. Love you always,

Eric S. said...

OMG Dina, My heart goes to you, and I send all healing thoughts your way. Please take care of your self, and let us know what is happening. You know we're all here for you, just shout and we'll do all we can.

Mary Sonya Conti said...

Ok. Ya know I've ratted ya out to those who know you as well. And, can see by the date of this posting and the fact that no one has left a comment (i dont think they have but am not computer savy) that maybe those who love you are afraid and don't know what to say. Having a daughter with cancer makes me step up. You have acknowledged it and that is the greatest step. Now you are reaching out to let us know. What a gutsy woman you are and it ill behooves me to stand quiet probably. But no. Fight Damn it...Fight and believe in impossibilities. Cara (my daughter) had the diagnosis two years ago. Dina she is still here and has had a beautiful daughter in the last year. No one knows the plans of the creator. Thank you for breaking the silence and letting us in. Sending you light and love until you post again (in the meantime prayer will help me calm my fear. I love you lovely woman!

queenlint1 said...

Red Sonya!

I knew you'd have the ovaries to comment! I am fighting it in my own way, but not following in the footsteps of allopathic medicine.

I admire you and your daughter for your fight and want you to know that I'll be doing the same with mine.


tashabud said...

Hi Dina,
I'm so sorry to hear about this. I hope that you are already under an Oncologist care.

When I wrote about IBC on my novel blog in October of last year, I was totally frightened by it. It really is a very aggressive form of cancer that is very different from all the rest of breast cancers.

I'll be praying for your quick recovery. You have the right attitude in dealing with this kind of illness. It makes a great deal of difference in your recovery.

I hope that you have families and friends there as your support group. I want you to know that even though I'm just a blog friend I'm here to cheer you on as you victoriously defeat this illness.

Hope you don't mind updating us often because we care.

May God Bless You,

the_naked_seamstress said...

If there is one woman I know that will beat this, it's you Dina. You sort of mentioned something about it months ago and I have been healing you since then. I have a friend that had the same diagnosis 3 years ago and she is still kicking so as Mary posts in her comment, believe in impossibilities. I'm sending you much love and healing light and I'm here for you. Michelle