Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This is what is happening.

Okay, well. I have some stuff to tell y'all.

Remember my last post, when I was kinda crotchety about getting pink eye? (Which by the way, went away the next day! See? WHINING WORKS.) Well, what I didn't tell you is that part of the reason I was irritable is that I was worried. The next morning, I was getting on a train to head into the city, I had an appointment at the Sydney Breast Clinic. Not for cosmetic enhancement--oh, no!-- but to follow up on a breast ultrasound I'd had two days before.

When I had my regular lady checkup with my GP in January, I told her about Becky's breast cancer. I asked her what I needed to do, in terms of detection and whatnot. She told me that, at 35, I was a little young to get mammograms, but that I should get yearly physical exams and ultrasounds.

"Your breasts are quite dense," she told me. "Why, thank you," I said, "But I really just think of you as a friend." Then, I realized she was saying that mammograms aren't always effective for younger women because of the density of their breast tissue. But I took it as a compliment anyway. If y'all have been reading here awhile, you know about my receive any and all compliments policy. But anyway.

So last week, once the kids were back in school and things got quieter, I scheduled the ultrasound for Tuesday. "Are you nervous?" Jason asked me as I grabbed my stuff to go. "Nah," I said, "we know that nothing bad will ever happen to us." And we chuckled, because I was obviously joking, but really? I wasn't nervous at all. 'Cause part of me really believed that.

I'm gonna fast forward a little, because this is meant to be a blog post and not a Tolstoy novel. Wednesday, I went back to the doctor because I wanted eye drops for my burgeoning pink eye. But we ended up talking about the ultrasound instead. There were a few cysts that the radiologist wasn't sure about, but he recommended another ultrasound in 6 months. My GP recommended calling the Breast Clinic in the city, just to get checked. I appreciated that she was being cautious. I called Wednesday afternoon, and they happened to have an opening for the next morning, which I took.

You can probably see where this is going. My friends, I was there all day. I shut that place down! No really, I was literally the last patient there--I got there at 10:30am and left at 4:30pm. A physical exam found a lump (that didn't show up on the ultrasound, as in, they missed that part of the breast.) Then I had my first mammogram, then a second, then an ultrasound. I will post again soon, cause I want to tell you more about some of this. You'll have to forgive this first "brain dump" post.

After the mammo and before the ultrasound, the doctor sat with me in her office. She showed me a shot from my mammogram on the screen. She pointed to an area in the upper right corner. It looked like a gray, ovally shape with some little white dots in it. "I don't like this," she told me. I nodded. And swallowed. I was trying very hard to listen and be a good student. I like to appear attentive. I remembered Becky saying the same thing, and even then in that moment, I smiled to myself.

She told me that the white dots were calcifications. That when cancer cells die, they calcify and that is what enable them to be seen on a mammogram. The ovally shape was a small lump that she had felt and initially thought was a lymph node. It wasn't anything I'd ever noticed. It wasn't anything my GP noticed when she did a breast exam last month. It wasn't anything that showed up on the ultrasound I had on Tuesday. But there it was. Those little white dots. And when the breast doctor tells you she doesn't like the look of something on your mammogram, you listen to her.
Funny the things you have to communicate via text message. This is me Trying To Be Calm.

She told me they were going to do an ultrasound and then a biopsy. The technician spent a long time on that ultrasound. I lay there, my right arm above my head for almost an hour. She told me beforehand, "I get very focused on what I'm doing, so don't let it bother you if I don't say much." I told her I would much rather her focus on her job than make chitchat with me, anyway. Once she got a ton of pictures of the area in question, the doctor came in. They discussed their "approach" for the biopsy--actually there were three areas they wanted to sample.

The location of the lump made it a tricky place to biopsy. And let's just say I don't have an abundance of breast tissue in the first place. And ya know, there are some important things right behind your boobs, like your chest wall and such. So, it's a precision job. They were talking amongst themselves about a particular technique they were gonna use. "It's good for thin people," the doctor said to the tech. "Awww, you guys!! That is so sweet!", I said. No not really. But I thought about it while laying there, and it made me chuckle to myself.

I'm just babbling now. Sorry. It's just that it was such a long day, and so surreal and I've been wanting to write about it. Actually, I told Becky later, as I lay there getting biopsied I was constantly thinking of how I'll write about this, how I'll talk to people about it later. Like, constructing the narrative in my head. I think it was a good way of kind of distancing myself from what was really happening. Becky said that she did the exact same thing. So at least, we are freaks together.

I'm gonna post more about it, but I'll cut to the chase now, cause I'm sure you have lives to attend to. After the biopsy, I put my shirt on and went next door and sat in the doctor's office. I sipped some water they brought me. My hand shook a little. Then, the doctor came in, along with a nurse who brought me a cup of tea. She told me what I already knew by then. It was cancer. Freaking, fracking cancer. (That is the title of my forthcoming book, I think.) She drew some diagrams for me, of milk ducts and cancer cells piling up, and invasive cancer stretching beyond the duct like a little claw. (Which is why it's called "cancer". Like the crab. I never knew that. Did you?)

We hoped at that point that I didn't have the claw. The needle biopsy had confirmed there were cancer cells, but the core biopsy she did wouldn't be back till the next day. So, late Friday afternoon she called me and told me what I didn't want to have to tell my family. There are cancer cells in the tissue surrounding the lump, too. Laying in our hallway on the phone, I wrote "invasive" on the piece of notebook paper I was taking notes on, then put my head down on it while I listened to her talk. The reality is, she said, it probably wouldn't change my treatment that much. I'd still need surgery either way, although it is now more likely I'll need chemotherapy too. Time will tell.

So, that was 5 days ago. Tomorrow, Jason and I are meeting with the surgeon to find out what happens next. I'm not sure when they'll schedule my surgery, but it will probably be soon. This is happening. And with what Becky went through, it is really the strangest deja vu.

I am okay. I am actually feeling fine, mostly. But I am nervous, nearly all the time. Like that tingly, butterfly feeling you get before a job interview or a leap off the high dive. But instead of going away as soon as you do the thing, it lasts for hours. It's draining after awhile. But I've found that exercise really helps it go away, so I'm gonna throw that tip out there for anyone who needs it.

Thanks for reading all this. I have more to say, can you believe? But I'm gonna save it for later. Can you pray for me, if you're a praying kind of person? Or even if you're not? I don't discriminate! I would really appreciate it. I am going to be fine, but I know I can't do this on my own. I also know I don't have to. Thanks, guys! I know this is "just" the Internets, but it sure feels real to me.

More soon. xoxo




72 comments:

  1. I've been reading your blog for a few months but haven't posted before. I'm terribly sorry to read this. Awful news. I have breast cancer in my family too. Look after yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never commented, but you're in my reader. I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm praying for you and your family as you go through this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, sweet Amy. I ache at the thought of you going through this and the image of you laying on the floor getting the news. There are many people praying for you, and you do NOT have to go throughout this alone. You will have people supporting you and reaching out to you. We will come as soon as we can. Love you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shelley and J...thank you both so much. I really appreciate that. And thanks for reading, too!

    Mom, thanks. :) I don't feel alone at all. And really, I am doing fine. I promise. :) I'll call y'all after the appt. love you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This just stinks....and I love you. You my dear friend have moved to very first place on the Rowland prayer list..Be strong and courageous..(unless ya just don't feel like it..and we will be that for you).

    ReplyDelete
  6. This news is so hard to believe! I know you will be fine with so much support. Now you will have to do stuff that I'm sure was not on your list for 2012, but you WILL get through it and be fine. Thinking of you and saying a prayer every day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My sweet girl, you are now the organizing principle of our lives. See you soon. Love to you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So, so sorry to hear this news. I'm sending some good thoughts and prayers your way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's a shocking way to start a Tuesday morning, my friend! You will be in my prayer constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY. And just as Becky is rockin 2012, just a year later, so will u be keeping us on the edge of our smart phones as we read and walk thru your journey. God is not shocked, and he is definitely on your side. So happy for the early detection and diligence of your doc. Already prayed for u three times during this comment. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Finding out that you had the crab claw and not just the lazy ductal kind was the first time I said the f-word in this whole experience. I kind of yelled it. I reserve the right to say it more in the future too.

    Ugh, just such a sickly deja vu reading this. Not to make it about me.

    The bottom line(s) are: 1) You are NOT alone. 2) You will remain yourself. 3) You will get through it. 4) Freaking Fracking Cancer will be a great working title for the book we will co-author.

    Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have been praying since Becky emailed me last night. I feel confident that you will be just fine. You Odom girls are STRONG. May I put something on my blog about it? More prayers can't do anything but help.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I say blog it, Gretchen! Amy is probably sleeping but I have Blog Power of Attorney. Which is a thing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amy I began reading your blog after I began reading Becky's cancer posts (Gretchen sent me)...I never thought I would read your cancer post. Please know you are getting prayers from Missouri!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sending you much love and support from across the miles--I actually found Becky's blog last year while I was looking for information for my aunt who was kicking her Breast Cancer's butt, and I was so quickly enamored with both of you and your witty approach to life. I really do believe in the power of positive thinking (and modern medicine) and so that's what I'm offering up--lots of positive affirmations and prayers. <3

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh, Amy, even though I know you'll be FINE, I'm so so sorry that you have to deal with this. I'm not usually the praying sort of person, but I've been praying for you ever since I heard the news. Sending much love to you and to all of your family.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sweet friend! You are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish there was more I could do! One advantage of being a Methodist Pastor's wife - I have access to MANY, many prayer chains. (since we move all of the time)

    Keep us posted!
    Christy Drenner

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm not much of a commenter, but I'm coming out of lurkdom now to say that you have my prayers, as many as I can send up. I'll pray not only for this to be healed soon, but for you and Jason and your sweet children to have peace and comfort. And hope, always hope.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Amy, GAH! I'm so sorry, angry, sad, you name it. You've got a bunch of folks in Washington State pulling for you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You'd better trademark "Freaking Frakking Cancer" soon!

    Ditto All the Things people have said. I'm looking forward to hearing more-- an entire Tolstoy novel full of updates, even!-- and will pray for you, even though I'm not the praying type.

    Sending love, and calm, and butterfly-nullifying vibes, across the Pacific.

    Also, you must tell Jason that he texts like a 12 year old girl. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi, pretty, I sure will pray for yr best movement forward. Don't look back or stop anywhere on this plain. Eyes up, you're doing great so far. xo

    ReplyDelete
  21. I came via Becky, who is aces at marshaling the internets I find. Many prayers ascending from my little corner of the world, for you and your family. This is going to suck in a really big way, but know that you are never, ever alone.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love and prayers to you Amy, and good luck tomorrow, xoxo.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh Amy, I said some choice words when I heard the news. I am so terribly sorry. We are all praying for you. Hang in there mama xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow--this was lovely to wake up to! Thank you everyone. No, really--thank you! To all of you who have de-lurked too, thank you for reading along and caring about a stranger on the Internet.

    Our appointment is in about an hour and a half? Why do I have this feeling that I should be cramming for it, like a test? I'm feeling pretty good, actually.I mean, you know, relatively speaking. I'll keep you posted. Xo

    ReplyDelete
  25. No cramming needed but bring your good listening ears. And remember, ask lots of questions. Or since you will be wanting to appear as though you understand everything, have Jason ask lots of questions. Smart cop, dumb cop.

    ReplyDelete
  26. So so sorry to hear this news, Amy. I am a reader of your blog, which I love as much as Becky's. You two have the most articulate and funny take on the world, and I always look forward to new posts. But I didn't want the news I read today! I know you'll come through this with flying colors, but it is still so, so sad to hear you have to go through this. Please know you have a rooting section out here in California.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh dear. We don't know each other, but I love reading your adventures in a strange land. I am sorry to read this news. I laughed through tears at the "freaking fracking" part because when my great aunt had cancer, I always referred to it as the "frigging fragging cancer." Must be its official title.
    I am an eternal optimist, so I will be over here in Boston keeping the optimism (and prayers) high.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Crikey, that's pretty awful. (I'm also de-lurking as a regular (Sydney) reader.)

    I want for you to come through this as your sister has – looks like your family breed 'em tough.

    This strikes close to home for me, I had to go through the same process just last month... I'm in my first trimester of my second pregnancy and went to the doctor for a checkup. He noticed a lump in my right breast and so I had two ultrasounds and a biopsy to determine what kind of a lump it was. (Wow, aren't biopsies fun?!) After then seeing a breast specialist, it was decided that the lump was harmless, but I have to keep an eye on it, especially during the pregnancy.

    May the force be with you in the coming months, you'll certainly be in my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Frick and frack. You are gonna kick its ass just like Becky did. In the interim, you are on our nightly prayer list.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Dearest Amy,
    You have a team of prayer warriors backing you up!! I'm so sorry that you are going through this but know that you're not alone. I will be lifting you and your precious family in prayer daily!

    ReplyDelete
  32. amy, christy and i are praying for you and your family! our disciple Bible study classes will pray for you too! peace, frank

    ReplyDelete
  33. Amy, I've been thinking about you all day. Sending all our love and strength. Praying for you, and love you heaps. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  34. Amy, I've been crying as I read this post, and all the comments too. Love you so much. All kinds of prayers are headed your way. I hope you feel enveloped by them.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Sweet Amy, thank you so much for sharing this with all your adoring fans. Please continue to keep us updated as we join you in prayer on your journey toward recovery. Our God is healer, awesome in power!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am praying for you, too. Freaking Fracking Cancer is right. When things get really hard at my house, my Italian father says, "Molto Forte, Corragio" -- I'll say it to you: Much Strength and Courage.

    Sending prayers, healing thoughts and love.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I am a friend of Becky's and my name is Becky too. I am praying for you and your family. Thanks for sharing this experience with your readers so we can learn with you.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Prayers for you from San Antonio.
    Liza and Eliot

    ReplyDelete
  39. Molto Forte, Corragio (love that Elizabeth I'm going to use it from now on)indeed. So sorry that its YOUR journey I'll be following with prayers and wishes. Its going to be a shitty year but you'll have us all cheering you on.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Sending you lots of prayers!! Yours is one of the few blogs that I read, and I think you must be one of the sweetest, most genuine bloggers out there! And I love your long posts, so please write as much as you want or need to write!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Feeling pretty good is good, Amy. Don't let those doctors bring you down with their science. Let them do what they have to do & don't get all wrapped up in it. See yourself past all this, visualize something real xo

    ReplyDelete
  42. Praying for you, and for your family as they rally around you.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've never commented either, Amy, but have been reading your blog since shortly after I discovered Becky's blog. You two are the coolest, funniest, most charmingly self-deprecating sisters ever. My heart and my (poor old lapsed Catholic) prayers go out to you. Consider yourself hugged.

    ReplyDelete
  44. "Freaking Fracking Cancer" That's what it is friend! Not funny news, but this too will pass, it won't 'prosper' in your body in JN!. Let's talk when you feel up to it. Loving you still Bestie! One day at a time. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  45. I've always admired the funny, self-deprecating take on life so it's great that you're defusing the drama in this one too. Good luck with all that doctoring and stuff. Thinking about you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I've been reading you for some time, and have really enjoyed your voice and your stories. There are no words to tell you how sorry I am to learn of this. Good luck to you and your family. Courage.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Amy, today my daughter brought home a flyer for an upcoming Race For the Cure 5K. We'll be running it for you. Peace to you--you're in our prayers, and more importantly, God's hands.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Amy ......we are here for you....you're going to come through this! Jesus is your healer!

    ReplyDelete
  49. P.s. isn't it great to see all your blog followers come out of lurkdom! :) it's your gift of writing that has endeared you to so many.....I'm sure it's encouraging for you to see and read all their comments:) xxx

    ReplyDelete
  50. Wow. I'm overwhelmed. Truly! Thank you so much everyone--reading your comments throughout the day has been like little shots of love and energy when I needed it. That sounds flaky, but you know what I mean! ;)

    I'm wiped out, so I'll update tomorrow. But it was a good meeting with the surgeon. Good, as in, we didn't receive any more bad news. And we are encouraged--at least, we are cautiously optimistic. Or are we optimistically cautious? Maybe both. Thank you for your prayers, thoughts and sweet words. I'm the luckiest girl/blogger EVER. More from me soon. xo

    ReplyDelete
  51. Amy, I'm so sorry to hear this news - Becky told me the other day and I was shocked. I will be praying for you and Becky and your family daily!

    ReplyDelete
  52. My dear cousin, Amy. I'm simply in denial. It seems impossible that you are facing this so young, especially so close on the heels of Becky's ordeal. But I do know that our God brings goodness and glory out of the worst of situations. We will also be praying for you and your family constantly, and you'll be added to our church's prayer chain here in Melbourne (East Coast Florida, not Australia).

    With all the cancer striking my family and friends lately, I have devoted many hours to researching various related topics.
    Consequently, I've become a huge believer in the evidence that nutrition, exercise, and getting enough sleep can not only significantly reduce the risk of cancer, but can even treat it.

    I'm not going to get on my soapbox on your blog, but if you're interested, I would encourage you to look into the benefits of juicing fruits and vegetables, especially kale and other cruciferous vegetables that may be available in your area. I'd love to talk to you about it sometime and tell you how much better I feel and the positive effects I've experienced first-hand after juicing for the last 6 months.

    I look forward to seeing you, Jason, and the kids again -- When is your next trip back to the states? I wish I could do more, but I know you are strong and you have tons of support worldwide. We love you and will continue to pray for you and think about you in the coming weeks.

    Take care of yourself!!!

    ReplyDelete
  53. THis is my first blog post of yours that I've read (your sister sent her readers :) but you sound like a lovely person -- and a great writer with an amazing attitude. I am thinking good thoughts for you and your your family!!!

    ReplyDelete
  54. My sweet friend!! Praying for you guys and trying not to cry because I'm about to go into a counseling session (selfish I know). Much love to you!! So wish I was in Australia right now to help.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Cancer is so, so dumb. Random internet love to you and your crew from Seattle.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I am also a reader of your sisters blog although I am a quiet reader who never comments. This brought me out of hiding to say that a complete stranger in Chicago is praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'm praying for you Amy. God, be glorified in this trial.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Oh, Amy. Only you could bring laughter and tears with a post like this. I'm believing that with our incredible, healing God, your faith, your wit (humor is quite healing), and thousands of people praying for you, cancer's got nothin' on you. But I know you're still nervous about the journey ahead. We're absolutely holding you in prayer. Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Of course, I had already heard your news, but it kinda hit me more in the gut reading your perspective and how it went down. I hope you know that I love you like a sister and I will be praying all the time for you. I have the utmost respect and love for Jason and you both, as you know. And I know if anybody can overcome hardship, you done got this thing licked. I'm sure you'll make the turns you need to make on the journey: ask the right questions, do the right things to be healthy. I know all those things will be in line. But more than all that-- as you walk that path, navigate treatments, procedures, and options, please just know you won't be alone. I just hope you know how much my heart is with you guys. I will be praying for yall and am ever ready to help in any way I can, as small an offer as that may seem from Pensacola. But I mean it...I will do anything for yall. Strength, hope, courage, steadiness, and love I am sending your way. Pat

    ReplyDelete
  60. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. My heart goes out to all of you.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Amy:

    Consider me a BFOB (Blog Friend Of Becky) who has been a surreptitious reader of your delightful blog tales. My Mother's prayer chain gets ridiculously good results, so you are now shooting to the top of that list.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Amy, you have been on my heart and mind since I heard. I'm so sorry. I am praying for you, Jason and your kiddos. I wish I could do more, like drop off some dinner or lots and lots of cake. Lots of love and peace to you, friend. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  63. "Freaking, Fracking Cancer: The real story" .......coming soon. Amy you are so awesomely amazing! Even in the face of FF cancer, you find a silver lining and a "happy place" to go to ( without enhancing drugs at that!) I know that our God can and will do more than we can hope or think.. We are only seeing a snapshot of this entire situation,but God sees the whole enchilada .
    As with everything, I am here for you--- a quick 3 hour plane trip. You just let me know my girl.
    We love you and are praying the wallpaper off the walls. Xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  64. I just have to leave a comment. I have been reading yours and Becky's blogs for years and have rarely posted a single comment. I love everything about you two. YOu are so real and let us "in" on many aspects of your lives. Right now I will add you to my prayer list. You are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Linda. And thanks for reading! :)

      Delete
  65. Amy, we love you and are praying for you. Some part of me is just very angry and pissed you (or anyone) has to go through this. The other part of me aches for you. Sorry to be all dramatic and stuff! On the bad days, find peace and strength in knowing you have so many people lifting you up. On the good days, treat yourself to loads of fun that you deserve! I know you will work so hard to put everyone at ease by telling them you are doing great, but just know it is okay to be broken sometimes too. We all love you and know you are going to kick freaking fracking cancer's butt!

    ReplyDelete
  66. Amy, we love you and are praying for you. Some part of me is just very angry and pissed you (or anyone) has to go through this. The other part of me aches for you. Sorry to be all dramatic and stuff! On the bad days, find peace and strength in knowing you have so many people lifting you up. On the good days, treat yourself to loads of fun that you deserve! I know you will work so hard to put everyone at ease by telling them you are doing great, but just know it is okay to be broken sometimes too. We all love you and know you are going to kick freaking fracking cancer's butt!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Amy, I'm a friend of your friends at trinity church in Dallas and I heard about your situation from a little mommy's group we have here. Our prayers are with you and your family! My dad was recently injured severely at work and was in the hospital recovering for months and so I've seen first hand how heaven opens up when the prayer warriors at trinity get going! So consider yourself well covered in prayer.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Found you via your sister's blog and found myself in a similar scenario two years ago. Becky found my blog via Twitter right around the time of my dx and has been so incredibly supportive (and, of course, her blog is therapy in and of itself)! Anyway, thinking of you here in Virginia!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jen! Yes, I've read your blog too! :) thanks for your kind words and thoughts.

      Delete
  69. Found you via your sister's blog and found myself in a similar scenario two years ago. Becky found my blog via Twitter right around the time of my dx and has been so incredibly supportive (and, of course, her blog is therapy in and of itself)! Anyway, thinking of you here in Virginia!

    ReplyDelete