Yesterday (9/14/12) was such a tough day. It was a day that will change my life forever regardless of the outcome (results that we find out Monday). Yesterday morning, I had an ultrasound of a large mass in my left breast. I am currently breastfeeding our precious Abbey, so initially I thought perhaps I had a lot of galactoceles forming around the side by my arm. Galactoceles are milk-filled cysts that lactating women sometimes get. I had found out in February that I had one on the opposite side of the same breast. Over the past few months, I have had various ailments and noticed one of my lymph nodes under my left armpit was enlarged. I had a large mole under that arm that I had all my life, so I thought perhaps it could be related. I had that removed in June and it was, thankfully, benign. Over Labor Day weekend, I really worked on trying to get rid of a mass that formed in my left breast. As I read online about how to get rid of it, I also started reading some scary discussions about breast cancers in lactating women. They pop up quickly and are very aggressive, with poor prognosis. I tried heat, massage, pumping, etc. But, I also noticed my nipple was also pulling towards the mass. Finally, I called my OB/GYN who scheduled an appointment to take a look. She thought it was probably related to engorgement, but sent me for an Ultrasound. The Ultrasound unfortunately couldn't be scheduled for a week and a half later. I found another place that could get me in the following day, but my OB/GYN insisted I got to a particular women's imaging facility and she said she was comfortable with the time frame.
Yesterday was that appointment. As I lay on the examination table, I watched the screen as the sonographer scanned my breast. What I saw did not look good. But, I still hoped I could be mistaken. The radiologist then took a look and told me what she saw looked "very suspicious" of cancer. She said that these types of cancers pop up quickly and are very aggressive in young, lactating women due to the significant increase in certain hormones (estrogen). She saw at least a few lymph nodes under arm (apparently these were all of the lumps that I thought were more galactoceles) and one in my chest that were enlarged. In addition, the mass spanned across two (upper) quadrants of my left breast. I saw a rather large blood supply that was feeding to the mass. The office squeezed me in for a biopsy at 11:45am and I should receive the results by Monday afternoon.
I was pretty insistent on continuing to breastfeed Abbey through this, so I tried to pump my left side so that it would continue to produce milk. After the pump container filled with blood-tinged milk and clots, I made a call to the doctor. She told me something that was SO hard to hear. She said, "Now we won't have the pathology results until Monday, but you really need to think about weaning your daughter because there is a VERY REAL possibility you will need to start chemotherapy soon". She told me only to pump to relieve engorgement and to try not to pump at all on that side so it can heal. After that call, I broke down in tears. So many thoughts went through my head:
- I am not ready to wean Abbey. I hope she will not refuse formula or the sippy cup (we've tried bottles and failed for months).
- It will be so difficult to take care of my kiddos and myself during this tough time. My primary job is to take care of them!
- I want to survive this! I want to help them grow up. I am too young!
- I miss my family! (we don't have immediate family here)
- I don't want to be a burden for Drew. He is such a good, loving husband. He has a great job that he loves and I don't want him to have to take any time off because of this.
Today we are working hard at weaning Abbey to the sippy cup. It is so hard to hear your precious baby scream for hours, knowing that she just wants to nurse. We had her try some formula, which she has never ingested, and so far she has refused all but 1.5 ounces of it. Meanwhile, I am still trying to pump milk for her out of my right side, but I am just not producing enough. I have increased my pumping schedule but am just shocked at how much my supply has gone down. This is so tough, but we will get through it all. I am documenting my journey here so that we can go back someday and see how far we have come, giving God all the Glory!