You Want Me To Hang My Boobs Where?
- October 19, 2016
- Theresa Bertuzzi
The biopsies and testing leading up the diagnosis of Dermatomyositis are not pleasant but unfortunately I have found out that they are only the beginning. You see 30% of people who develop DM have it because they already have pre-existing cancer somewhere in their body or will develop cancer within the first five years after diagnosis. I had never heard of anything so horrible either but I guess it is true. This means that I now have to be checked from the top of my head to the tip of my toes over the next few months as the doctors look for possible signs of the big “C” word. Now, before family and friends freak out, the likely hood of my having cancer is not that high. I have multiple autoimmune diseases and it is far more likely that I just have really crappy genes and have developed another autoimmune disease. The sucky part is that over the next few months I will have to have numerous x-rays MRI’s, cat scans, EEG’s, EMG’s, a colonoscopy, an upper endoscopy and I will have to take care of a breast lesion that I have been dealing with for the past year and a half with surgery. Good news is that I will have tons to blog about!
The first obstacle I must face is dealing with the breast lesion that doctors have been monitoring. I am meeting with my breast surgeon on Friday to decide whether or not they should just operate and get the tumour out as quickly as possible and also looking into another rapidly growing lump near my armpit. Thought this was a good time to share my Breast MRI and Biopsy experience as it is something that unfortunately many of you may eventually have to do, if you have not already done so.
For anyone heading for a Breast MRI or biopsy the following is information that you really should know before you go, not because I want to frighten you but just so you can come to terms with the pending humiliation that is about to occur. My experience with breast issues began while sitting in the bathtub, enjoying a book about a year and a half ago. When people say they found a lump in their breast I always assumed it would be while they were doing a planned breast check. For me, I never did feel a lump, instead I looked down from my book, during a particularly creepy portion of the novel, to see that the arm that was resting against my breast was suddenly covered in blood; we are talking like gunshot victim here kind of blood. I instantly began looking for where I must have cut myself with a razor or something. Obviously I was in panic mode as I have not had body hair for almost 4 years at this point and the razor would have had to magically jump off the shelf and cut me while reading my book but the moment of delusion was of little comfort when I realized that blood was spontaneously pouring out of one of the ducts in my right breast. I had no idea that such a thing could even happen so I did what anyone would do and jumped out of the bath to Google it. Within moments I was convinced that I not only was dying of breast cancer but I had three other diseases completely unrelated to bloody breast discharge.
After numerous doctors’ visits, showing off the girls to various specialists, a mammogram and ultrasound they sent me for a breast MRI Biopsy to explore two suspicious lesions. Now I thought the whole mammogram thing was pretty embarrassing but the MRI Biopsy caught me by surprise. In my mind, I pictured myself lying tragically on an MRI bed while doctors hovered over me. In reality when I walked into the room, they had me crawl up on a table that had two large holes cut in the middle. I was then told to lie on my tummy, dropping my boobs into the two holes! What???? Try lowering yourself onto a table while your boobs are flopping around and try aiming to get them each into separate holes. It is not an easy feat especially when 4 strangers are watching you try to manipulate your body parts while swinging your hanging breasts into these holes. When I envisioned the MRI I was lying on my back. 40 something old boobs still look pretty good when you are lying on your back; gravity works with you and they still look nice and round and somewhat youthful. Hanging those same boobs through two holes results in two long, floppy pancakes with nipples, so not the image I wanted to present to four strangers. To make matters worse, two of the individuals then disappeared under the table, with the floppy pancakes to further squish and flatten them between two paddles. They discussed the tightness of the paddles and one even commented how one of the breasts was hanging way lower than the other requiring them to have me adjust my body position. This resulted in more humiliation as they pointed out to each other how some of my stomach had now slipped up into the hole. In other words my muffin top was hanging part way into the hole and they had to work together to shove the offending flesh back in place. I would also like to point out that when laying on my back this area also looks much better and would not have gotten in their way.
Once prepared, the doctor and resident slipped under the table. Two nurses stepped up to hold my hands. When someone holds both your hands and rubs your back you know that you are probably going to feel something pretty awful. The injection of freezing was stabbed right in the nipple and burned like a bitch. The rest of the biopsy was a little painful but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be partly because I was distracted by the humiliation of having my bare breasts hanging down into the faces of these people who had a spot light shone on them like they were the stars of a Broadway show.
When done, they asked me to climb up slowly. I refused and explained that I was not presentable. You see, when you lie for an hour on your face, without being able to move a thing and you cry, just a little bit, not loud embarrassing cries, just quiet private cries, it causes the sniffles. These sniffles soon turned into a waterfall of snot and mucus that now covered my face and the towel I lay one. Perhaps that is why your face is on a towel. Anyway it must be a common thing because the nurse just passed me tissues without even having to ask what the problem was.
After cleaning up the nose situation I then raised myself and immediately had the resident’s hand squashed on my breast with a pile of gauze. Apparently there was quite a bit of bleeding which would then turn into a lemon sized hematoma within days. To try to stop the bleeding he kept his hand on my breast while walking me to the recovery area. I passed by numerous people with a sheet draped around both myself and the resident, who was kind of a geeky looking little guy who seemed just as embarrassed about our predicament as I was. Once in recovery the bleeding continued so he kept pressure on my breast while we chatted about our day for about 20 minutes. 20 minutes is an excruciatingly long amount of time to make casual conversation with a stranger who is essentially cupping your breast. When I was finally ready to leave, all bandaged up and loaded up with pain killers I could not race out of that hospital fast enough only to have the nurse tell me that I now had to head over to the other side of the hospital to have a mammogram to make sure the markers they placed in my breast were in the right spot. Fuck me! No joking, now I had to have my sore boob manipulated back into a mammogram machine and squished, resulting in more blood to shoot out of both the nipple and the wound and resulting in my now having to stand and make casual conversation with the female nurse while she cupped and placed pressure on my boob.
The results came in two weeks later, no cancer, just a papilloma that are normally a small benign tumour that would have to be monitored every few months with an MRI to make sure that it does not turn into cancer. Four more MRI’s later and three more MRI lead biopsies and I am now a pro and can manipulate my breasts into those holes like a basketball star hitting a slam dunk. Yes you read right, that is five breast biopsies over the past year. I also am prepared with all kinds of witty banter to entertain the lucky person who gets to hold my boob post op; apparently I’m a bleeder. I wish this blog post had an end instead of a …to be continued but it looks as though I will be swinging those boobs back into the holes again in just a couple of weeks as the DM diagnosis has just made my harmless papilloma suspect number one in the search for a possible cancerous invader. Much love to all of my friends who are battling breast cancer, I have only had a small taste of the tests and experiences that you have faced and I would like to say that you are some seriously strong and amazing women and I love you and pray for you every single night! You are my hero! XOX