BY Kara Hetrick
PUBLISHED June 22, 2020
I found the lump myself. One day it wasn't there, the next it was. Not only could I feel it, but I could see it, a slight swelling on the top of my breast. I was concerned, but honestly, my main emotion was annoyance. I didn't have time for this. I was 43, healthy and a mom to two little boys.
I promised myself if it didn't go away in a week, I'd call the doctor. One week passed, and then another. The lump persisted, and still I didn't call. I told myself I was too busy; I didn't have time to go to the doctor. I had a mammogram scheduled for December, so that was good, right? And maybe it would go away on its own. Maybe this was nothing.
Why, why did I wait?
Because I knew. Deep down, I knew.
More weeks passed. Weeks full of work, helping with homework and household chores. Our life was ordinary and comforting in its repetition. And then there were the shiny moments too. We went trick or treating, we celebrated Thanksgiving. We took a trip to NYC for my birthday. And all the while, the lump was there, an uninvited visitor in my body and my life.
A few days before Christmas, I had my mammogram. Followed immediately by an ultrasound and a biopsy. I went from room to room, from tech to doctor each looking more worried than the next. Thank God they didn't mess around like I had. Thank God they were able to do all the testing so quickly. I heard words like “increased blood flow” and “surgical oncologist”. The biopsy itself was painless, but the concern on the doctor's face made me feel sick to my stomach. I came home that night without a diagnosis (results would take a few days), but with the knowledge that my lump was not just a lump.
A few days later the doctor gave me my diagnosis: invasive ductal carcinoma, triple positive type. I wasn't surprised. I was sad, I was angry, but I wasn't surprised. I had known all along.
I had breast cancer.
Right then and there I made a decision. There would be no more ignoring, no more hiding. I would face this head on, with all that I had. I was ready to fight. It was, as I tell my boys, time for “girl power!”