Breast Cancer Boobshell

Posted on: Thu, 06/28/2018 - 12:48 By: akpratt
Storm clouds gathering

TLDR: So as my youngest son Evan advised - bombshell first - I have breast cancer and not just in one breast but both. Not related - both primary sites.

We are at early times  so let me tell you what I know now. I'll try and keep up with a group email as I get more information.

I have had a small lump in my left breast for about a year and half that I have been ignoring. It wasn't painful and I just noticed it once in awhile and thought "I should get that looked at." Over Christmas work slowed down and I made a few decisions. Along with getting my prescription for blood pressure medication refilled (that's another story) I mentioned the lump  to my family Dr.  He referred me to the Breast Clinic at Jim Pattison Outpatient Clinic. A few weeks ago they did a mammogram for me and managed to fit the breast ultrasound (originally scheduled for April 24th) into the same day's appointment.

It was a hint when they called two days later to schedule biopsies.  Note the plural. I had only noticed one lump but my doctor found two in my other breast when he palpated. And a day after that they called to schedule an appointment with a Breast Health Specialist. The day of the biopsies things got real for me. I realized that there definitely was something there and that it was probably going to have to come out. I was pretty calm waiting two weeks for the results. But a few people will tell you I was a bit preoccupied the last day.

When I arrived for the appointment with the Breast Health Specialist, I was handed a clipboard and asked to fill in some information. First side was pretty straight forward. Allergies, medications, family history. It was when I turned the page over that I realized that I had entered what Drew calls "The Pink World" The entire waiting room erupted in stress relieving laughter when I read the first two questions out loud "Was I still having periods?" and "Was I pregnant?" Not to minimize that fact that 25,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,000 will die this year but there will be 250 men diagnosed as well and 40 of them will die.

The resident doctor reviewed my mammogram results and began to talk to me about scheduling biopsies. Her head snapped up when I told her "No I wouldn't be getting them." She flustered for a moment while I explained that I had already had them and was expecting results. She rushed out of the room to find the results. She found Dr. R. Janzen (who will be my breast surgeon) and things started to move very quickly. I was shown the biopsy results. Both biopsies were Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Estrogen positive, Progesterone positive and HER2 negative. The concern is - Has the cancer spread? A most amazing Navigator Nurse organized blood work, a CT scan and a bone scan. These tests took up the rest of my day.

And despite the quick work when I met with Dr. Janzen this morning (Wednesday) we still don't have a definitive answer to that question. While the preliminary bone scan showed nothing (good news) the CT scan showed a large mass in my right lung (middle lobe - about five cm across.) We need to figure out what it is. It may be as simple as scarring from my go-round with tuberculosis when I was in Panama. Or it could be a third primary site for a completely unrelated cancer. Or it could be metastasized breast cancer. I am being scheduled for a fine wire lung biopsy in the near future (sometime in the next two weeks) and we will know more about stage and prognosis when that happens.

A few people have asked how I'm feeling and for me that is hard question to answer. Physically I feel fine. I walk 5 miles a day when I'm working and make a point of climbing 180 steps up to the top of the tank each day. Emotionally it has been a bit of a roller coaster. As some of you know my mom died of breast cancer and some of you will know that my brother Drew was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. He is cancer free today. ( And a poster boy for male breast cancer  in the province of Saskatchewan.) So I have him to lean on. In some ways I'm feeling fatalistic about it. "It is what it is." Mentally I'm a curious Pratt so my recent days are filled with Google research and I've asked my Mediforce boss to keep me busy with First Aid work and I'm cranking up my web work (know anyone willing to pay big bucks for a Drupal website?)

Spiritually as my wife said "Angus, you are just a rock." I don't know what God has for me in all this. I have a sense that He isn't finished with me yet. But your prayers that His will would be done will be much appreciated.