My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Since I have a family history of Breast Cancer, My mom had always told me not to take birth control pills, and to make sure I start getting mammograms at age 30. I listened to her.. avoided the pill, and got my first mammogram at 30. I didn’t go back for another one until I was 35. I’m 37 now and had forgotten last year. April 24, I went in for a mammogram. The next day, they called me and said the doc wanted to see me for another mammogram, this time with an ultrasound as well. That call startled me a bit and I got teary, but soon recovered. It was probably just tissue changes due to my monthly cycle due to start in a couple days. I went back for my 2nd mammogram + ultrasound on May 10th. They informed me it was my left breast they were focusing on. The radiologist saw calcifications that he said could be related to cancer, but not always. Recommended that I get a biopsy done to be sure, considering my family history. I wasn’t too concerned, just anxious about the procedure. My doctor was on vacation, so I had to wait for her to return in order to see the films and to refer me. Since we were planning to move to Nashville this summer anyway, and I had already established a patient record at Vanderbilt for my thyroid screenings, I asked to be sent to the Vanderbilt Breast Center. My biopsy was scheduled for May 31st, and Mike and I were impressed with the level of care at the Breast Center as we were before when I saw Dr. May for my thyroid. The procedure was painless from start to finish. I was excited that the Breast Center had a robe for me to wear instead of the usual hospital gown. Fancy! The process was as painless as biopsies can possibly be. I had been anxious for nothing and soon I was on my way home.

I got the call at work on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013. I was working on a new color client who was understanding when I took the call… the nurse was calling to ask how my biopsy site was healing up. “Great!” I said.. then she asked if it was a good time to talk about my results. “Is it good news or bad?”, I asked. “It’s complicated”, she said. I told her I’d have to call her back, after I was finished with work. Cue the nerves.. and trying to convince myself that “complicated” didn’t mean cancer, just something different than “all clear”. I finished my customers for the day and called her back.. She was so sweet when breaking the news to me. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Harley, it is bad news. It’s cancer.” Words I will never forget for the rest of my life.

The cancer I have is ER+, PR+ and HER-2+. I have opted to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I will need chemo, and will be treated with Herceptin to attack the HER-2. I will also be taking Tamoxifen for 10 years.