My cancer saga started when I was diagnosed at 38 with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I have a twisted sense of humor and have tried to continue with laughter and optimism on my journey...

Surprise...

Episode XCI - move along just to make it through


Well crap... I am off to do a biopsy!




Here's the biopsy back story...

Almost two weeks ago when I was going to bed and took off my bra... there was a funky swollen spot. An oddly oval raised spot on the lower inside part of my breast. Even though it is on the same breast, it was not located anywhere near my original cancer location. Great?!?!

Seriously, this weirdness would happen on the same day of my Oncology follow-up appointment. I bet if my doctor had asked to look at my breast it would have been there and we could have dealt with it then. Instead, it was late at night on a Thursday... there was nothing I could do... except make my husband take pictures of it.


Odd swelling... inside the black circle...


I know... you were expecting full on nudes... sorry to disappoint. However, now I take pictures of all weird changes. I want to document that I was not crazy and that the changes I found were real. By the next day, Friday... it was still there. And it was still there through the weekend, but it was larger and looked worse.


My normal vs my swollen skin...


On Monday I went to my OT appointment and talked about it with her. I definitely had peau d'orange which is basically a sign of swollen or inflamed skin. It is where the skin looks like an orange due to swelling. Of course, we both knew that it was definitely a new issue. So to be safe I needed to call some one. Argh!

Now that I knew I needed to call someone, I had no idea which of my many doctor's I should call. I realized my Oncologist would probably do nothing (as proven on Thursday). The Family Doctor would refer me back to the Oncologist. The Radiation Oncologist would probably refer me to the Breast Surgeon. So, I called the Breast Surgeon directly.

Of course they wanted to see me... so I scheduled an appointment. The next day I was glad that I was being seen as the area was now even larger and my skin was reddening. I went from having nothing to having weirdness in the span of just a few days.


Getting red and spreading...


When the Breast Surgeon looked at it, he agreed that it was swollen and red and new. They immediately (and I mean immediately) took me to imaging office next door and ran an ultrasound. I followed the typical protocol: undress, lay down, get ultrasounded. While there was mild inflammation, there was no mass. Looks good!

So, the first thing I had to do was take antibiotics. It could be inflammation from an infection. Of course, I was worried that it was that Inflammation Breast Cancer (which if you do not know about it - please check it out... it is rare, and completely different the other types of breast cancer). But, the first round of treatment would be to see if it was an infection.

So, I took my very strong dose of antibiotics for the rest of the week and weekend. I got the lovely side effect of needing to be close to the toilet! Strong antibiotics = upset stomach. By Monday there was nothing left in my stomach and the swelling in my breast was less severe, but it was still there. So, I called the Breast Surgeon back and scheduled a punch biopsy.


With the back story concluded, I am back to my punch biopsy...

The actually biopsy was quick. It took around thirty minutes. And only mildly discomforting afterwards. Really, I would easily do it again... and compared to other things I have gone through - this was CAKE.

The procedure was simple. I got undressed. The doctor and I talked about where the worst of the swelling was, as that was where the sample should come from. He drew a circle around the area. Then the area of the breast was cleaned and numbed (via a shot). The doctor took a small device and literally punched a sample out of my breast. He then used a scalp to get the rest of the sample. After that a tape suture was applied and I was bandaged up.


A punch biopsy... very simply illustrated


Because I take blood thinning medications they put on extra bandages and I was advised to leave them on a few days longer than they normally recommend. Not that I was going to bleed out from the tiny (and I mean I was disappointed at how little was taken) tiny sample.


My post biopsy side table...


With the sample taken I walked right out the door and knew that I would have some discomfort in a few hours... which I did. However, it was pretty easy and pretty painless. I now can add a different type of biopsy to my resume. I am definitely collecting procedures and biopsies over the past few years. Hoping I can stop gaining experiences soon!!!


I survived!


Biopsy over, now to the results...

My philosophy: No news is good news. While my mother was freaking out and wanting the results, I figured they would only rush telling me if it was bad. So, do not call me quickly.

The results came late the next day and it did not have signs of cancer. There was inflammation (well duh), but no detected carcinoma. Good news!

So I have a funky swollen spot on my boob. They are saying either I had an infection (which means it should go away) or some messed up problem from radiation or lymphatic swelling spots in the lymphatic channels from my lymphedema.

Basically, they do not know. Since they do not think it is cancer they are not worried about it. They reminded me I have a mammogram in a few months, so it will be re-evaluated then.


In my head...


I am very glad that the results said not cancerous, but it is annoying that I have some weird unexplained thing on my breast. At least when I followed up with the Radiation Oncologist he reminded me that they did excessive aggressive radiation on that breast, so it would be very hard for any cancer to come back... at least for a few years. Wow... a few years... reassuring!

So, I guess I will just deal with my funky swollen spot. With all the options of what caused it to happen, lymphedema seems to be the best reason. It is swollen (lymphedema). It looks like it is in a channel (lymphatic channel). It has now spread into into my nipple and looks like a 9 or 6 depending on the angle (networked lymphatic channels). With all the doctors not worried, I guess I should not be either.

Ironically, I am dealing with more issues from my bad cancer-getting breast... only proving that it has exceedingly earned the right of its nickname - my "sh*tty titty"!!!


“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. 
Keep in the sunlight.” 
- Benjamin Franklin


Episode Reference: Move Along, All American Rejects song

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About Amy Brock

Amy Brock is a cancer fighter and survivor. Diagnosed with Infiltrating Breast Cancer at 38 she has gone through chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, and other procedures since 2013. Post treatment she has been diagnosed with lymphedema, chemo-induced neuropathy and bone degeneration in her back, as well as other issues including dysphagia, bilateral hearing loss, and arthritis. From being completely healthy, to having a variety of issues, Amy began blogging about her experiences as a way to help others. Read more about finding humor in the craziness of cancer at her blog www.tatawarrior.com Amy is the mother of two children and has worked for various non-profit agencies. In addition, she is a fine artist creating works in multiple mediums which can be seen at www.amybrock.com

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