Here We Go Again: Waiting for Results After Another Cancer Scare


I was optimistic about my lymphoma diagnosis and new treatment plan when a lump was found after I underwent a mammogram.

I was living life, feeling good, because I was taking a new oral chemo drug, Calquence (acalabrutinib). It was a life changer for me. I felt like I could have a breather, at least for a while.

I dodged a bullet last August when my doctor thought my indolent non-curable lymphoma had transformed into an aggressive large B-cell lymphoma. It was a relief to discover that it wasn’t the case. We found out after a PET scan, that it was my small lymphocytic lymphoma. It transitioned to the next stage of SLL. In place of an aggressive chemo regimen, I began taking an oral chemo drug, with relatively few side effects.

It was time for my bone density test and yearly mammogram. I was unusually cavalier about it. No one in my family had breast cancer and besides, I already have “my cancer” in addition to a few minor skin cancers. I didn’t think much of it and didn’t anticipate a problem. I was off to my grandson’s school for Grandparent's Day when I noticed that I missed a call from my doctor. She left a message.

“Could you call me back? Nothing urgent. I have a question for you.”

I thought my doctor just had a question for me and I didn’t think anything of it. Before I had a chance to call her back, I received a message on my medical portal alerting me to a new test result. I opened the email, totally expecting it to be negative.

By now, you probably see where I’m going with this. I read through it and then a couple of expletives came out of my mouth. A 9-millimeter solid mass was found on my left side. I called the doctor back with this newfound knowledge. She said, “Don’t worry yet. It could have something to do with your lymphoma.” She also had a question about my bone density, which was irrelevant to me now.

An ultrasound was scheduled for the next day. After the ultrasound was over, the doctor came in to talk to me. I knew this was not a good sign.

The doctor began, “We know you have lymphoma, but this is not presenting like a typical lymph node, which has a different shape than what we are seeing. It’s of intermediate suspicion. It needs to be biopsied.”

The biopsy will be in eight days. It will take at least five business days to get the results.

Here we go again — the waiting. Of course, my mind is going down the rabbit hole of what I may hear. I’m trying my best to be positive. I have a teacher, who always says to me, “Linda, think good and it will be good.” I’m trying. It’s tough.

I have decided to prepare for the worst, as they say, and hope for the best. If it’s breast cancer, I’m praying it will be early stage. Maybe, I can have a lumpectomy procedure and then radiation. (I think this is the best-case scenario if it’s breast cancer.)

The issue I’m beating myself up over, is that when I had a PET scan back in August, it said there was a mass and that I should follow up with mammography. I missed it. I totally missed it. Somehow, I was so focused on the fact that my cancer had not transformed into a more aggressive cancer that I never read this incidental finding. I only decided to look back at my results to see if there was any evidence of this finding back in August. You can imagine my shock when I realized it was there. Now, I was angry with myself. How could I possibly have missed this? I’m passing this along so that when anyone undergoes a diagnostic test or scan…please read every word carefully and learn from my mistake.

So, now I’m praying it’s not stage 4 aggressive breast cancer. This humbled me, for sure. I have resolved that it is what it is and it will be what it will be. I will just have to pull my big girl pants on, once again, and deal with it. I will because I am a survivor, just like my parents who survived the Holocaust. I’m just surviving in a whole different way.

…to be continued.

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