Breast Cancer Recheck Showed "Everything Is Fine" But Genetic Result Complicates Things


Breast cancer survivor shares what happened when she found a new lump and got a genetic test result for PALB2.

Seven and a half years from my original breast cancer diagnosis, and I may be heading back into the fire. Just when you think it is safe to go back into the water. Darn. I found a, well, not really a lump, but kind of a lump—a thickening above the lumpectomy scar tissue on my right breast. I had always been aware of some tissue density or scarring in that area, but it seems like it has changed in the past few months. Plus, I noticed in the mirror that my right breast in that area is rounded outward whereas the other is a smooth slope. It could be my weight gain, but it could be something else.

Rather than worry and struggle with mental anxiety for additional months, I am not going to postpone any longer. I will be the good breast cancer survivor and report it to my doctor. This was anxiety-relieving until the doctor made the call to get me in right away for a diagnostic mammogram and a breast ultrasound. Yikes. That might not be good. I probably should have addressed it sooner, but I just wasn’t sure there had been a change, and I had been busy caring for and then grieving my mom. I was determined not to pre-worry.

The breast clinic scheduled me to go in within a week of the doctor’s orders. The 3D digital mammogram showed nothing. Whew! Next, I lay on the next table waiting for the breast ultrasound results, wondering how many other women had lain on this same table with the same fears and worries I was experiencing. I hoped most of them got good news.

The radiology doctor came in and again said everything looked fine. He went on to suggest that if what I felt should be pursued further, it would probably be a breast MRI or a punch biopsy in the breast surgeon’s office. I think he was watching my face because he went back to telling me to focus on the words “everything looked fine.”

The “funny” part is that I just tested positive for the breast cancer DNA defect in PALB2 and the geneticist had already recommended that I alternate mammograms with breast MRIs every six months and talk to my doctors about hormonal medication and/or a prophylactic double mastectomy.

Surprise. Just when you dare to think you have some degree of normalcy in your life. Sigh.

At the next doctor’s office a few days later, my breast surgeon agreed with me that a punch biopsy was not needed but she did want to get a breast MRI scheduled. I think she is doing it so we can be “for sure for sure” that there is not currently a cancer so that I have time to visit plastic surgeons and contemplate my choices.

My mind rebels. It does not want to make those choices. Honestly, I don’t even want to pick up the phone to start having discussions with plastic surgeons. It is difficult to push forward and still, I will.

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