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College Park Patch: Telling Your Kids You Have Cancer
This article was originally published on the College Park Patch.
During a recent mammogram, the technician unexpectedly discovered a mass in my left breast.
After the appropriate number of images were taken, I was moved into another room to have an ultrasound performed. I couldn’t see the screen, but the technician had a permanent furrow in her brow as she swiped the wand back and forth over the same area on my breast. She stopped only to type something on the machine, and then she put the wand back to that exact spot. My heart began to race, and I was told the radiologist will speak to me in a few minutes.
The kind eyes of the radiologist and her directness about the mass put me at ease, and she assured me that at my age it’s most likely a benign fibroadenoma and just to be sure they would like to get a biopsy done. Thankfully, due to a cancellation, I was able to come the next afternoon.
I’m really good at keeping it together in these types of situations, but once I closed the door to my minivan, I pressed my forehead into the steering wheel and cried for a solid twenty minutes. I was scared, and it felt like my world was spinning out of control.
The next day, the doctor conducted a vacuum-assisted needle core biopsy to take four samples of the mass. After three long days of waiting, the doctor called to tell me that I have a very rare type of tumor that only 1 percent of women get.
It’s called a Phyllodes tumor.
“You need to see a breast surgeon,” the doctor on the phone informed me.
I tried to respond, but no sound would come from my mouth.
“Now. Oh...and Happy Birthday!”
I waited a few days before I told my children. I wanted to have all the answers to their questions. I did what I do best in these types of situations and I read everything I could on this type of tumor. On a day when everyone was in a good mood I told my 6- and 8-year-old sons that we needed to have a family meeting.
“Remember when I went to the doctor and they had to do some tests on my breast and I had that bandage?”
Both boys nodded their head. My youngest son, Z, chewed on the side of his mouth the way I do when I’m nervous.
“Well the doctor’s found a tumor and it’s called cancer.”