2020 was not only the year of the pandemic, but the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  My friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer early 2020 which reminded me to get my regular mammogram.  I think I was supposed to schedule one at the end of 2019, but I didn’t make my appointment yet.  I couldn’t even remember the last time I had my mammogram.  Did my doctor say I was late a year from my previous one?  I know I should have had it done sooner, but life always got in the way or there was never a good time.  Coincidentally, a few days later I got a call from the Doctor’s office to schedule my mammogram.  Perfect, I thought.  I’ll make my appointment right away.  March 24th my appointment was set.   

March 12th was a Thursday and I was scheduled to be off for three days through Saturday.  I was attending a retirement meeting at work.  It was a 3-hour class during the morning.  The following two days I was scheduled to have a booth sharing Ruby Ribbon for my 2nd year at the Pinners conference in Ontario, CA.  I was super pumped at the thought of us sharing a healthy wire-free alternative to wearing a bra with more knowledge and experience under my belt.  Sadly, the entire event was not to be.  I received a text that the Pinners conference on March 13th & 14th had been canceled.  The pandemic hit. 

Author with her sister, Tricia, JustUsGirlsCrafting owner.

Now, that my schedule was free Friday and Saturday hubby and I decided to visit Disneyland one last time before it was scheduled to close that same weekend.  We recently went to Disney World for a private event celebrating Leap Year the month before with my Facebook “Adventure Social” group.  We joked about having to go all the way to Florida to finally get on the “Rise of the Resistance” ride since we kept missing out on a low enough group number at Disneyland.  The Food & Wine event was still going on and we also enjoyed culinary treats as well.  Since we’re annual passholders, we could enjoy little half day visits which was perfect in this new pandemic world.  Side note, I highly recommend visiting without kids.  It’s a completely different experience.  We made small talk with some of the employees asking if they thought Disneyland would remain closed for long.  One cast member said it would probably only be closed a few weeks.  I wasn’t so sure. As always, we enjoyed our leisurely visit.  Little did we know that would be the last time we visited Disneyland probably for the rest of the year. 

Author and Mickey!

As my appointment drew near, the pandemic seemed to be getting worse and the numbers were concerning.  I decided to reschedule my appointment from March to April 6th hoping there was an end in sight.  The pandemic closure was in full swing and didn’t seem to let up.  So, I figured I might as well keep my April appointment.  When I arrived, the parking lot was near empty.  Huge canopies were outside as check-in stations.  There was hardly anyone outside or inside waiting for appointments.  I thought to myself, at least there weren’t a lot of people that I could get the virus from.  So, that was an upside to having the appointment done.  I felt good having completed my mammogram unscathed from the corona virus.  So, I was happy I completed my mammogram until I received a letter…you have abnormalities in your test and to return for an ultrasound.   

I’ve had abnormalities in my test before.  I would just retake it again like I had done in the past.  This is what I told my husband because I didn’t want him to worry unnecessarily if nothing came from it.  But, this time they wanted to do an ultrasound.  What could that mean?  Maybe it was because I had implants?  Or, could that be the natural progression as we age?  I was a little concerned that it could possibly be more.  And, I was leery about going to yet another appointment during the pandemic closure.   

As an essential worker we had to work continuously while the rest of the world remained at home.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a 9-1-1 operator and helping people and the new quick drive into Los Angeles was definitely a welcome surprise.  But, I began thinking maybe if I changed from the day shift to the night shift that would keep me away from more chances of getting the virus.  There would be less administration staff on the night shift.  There would be less people on the sidewalk going to and from my car at 10pm and 6:30am.  I hardly ever went out during my lunch break, there were just too many homeless people for my comfort.  And, of course the night shift had a skeleton crew so fewer employees to have contact with.  Smart move I thought to myself.  Yup, I decided to put my name in the book requesting to work the night shift. 

While on the night shift the work was non-stop as well as the pandemic.  I had put off my follow up appointment long enough and decided to schedule my ultrasound on June 8th.  Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to have my husband go with me for moral support which was disheartening.  The nurse did the ultrasound and said she would have the doctor come in.  Rut-roh, this probably isn’t a good thing I thought to myself.  He came in and showed me the pictures of 4-5 lumps.  One was close to the nipple just under the skin and the rest were scattered around near the 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, and 6 o’clock position.  He suggested getting a biopsy.  I didn’t know what to think as I left and walked back to the car.  My husband was eager to leave, but I knew I had to stop him for a second to explain that they found some lumps and they suggested a biopsy.  He was concerned, but I said let’s not worry until the biopsy was done because it could be nothing.  He agreed.  So, I scheduled the biopsy the following week on June 18th

My husband wasn’t able to go in with me for the biopsy either.  The procedure was very painful and took a few hours to mark and collect samples from all the lumps.  I would brace myself every time he stuck the needle in.  Then he would have to slide the needle in and out to maneuver it just right to collect the sample.  When the needle was in position, he would warn me when he was ready to collect the sample.  It was a painful and loud punching sound.  It was like a mini harpoon shooting out to grab a piece to be collected.  It made me think of the Alien movie and how the teeth would come out of the creature’s mouth to bite.  Then he would leave a marker indicating where the lump was.  Each lump took about 20-30 minutes.  I was constantly bracing myself, trying not to squirm, and holding my breath the entire time.  Towards the end of the procedure, I found myself crying because it finally hit me.  I could have cancer.  I am in this office all by myself and the tests could be positive for cancer.   

I am usually good at handling physical pain, but what I couldn’t hold in was my emotions.  The doctor asked if I was doing ok.  I said yes, and just waved him off.  I think he and the nurse realized it wasn’t the physical pain that I was crying about and he handed me a tissue.  The doctor mentioned it was his longest biopsy yet.  I wasn’t fond of hearing that news or being one of his statistics either.  Finally, he was done.  He said it would take about a week to get the results.  In my mind, I still didn’t want to entertain the idea of having cancer until I knew for sure.  Again, I told my husband I didn’t want to worry other family members if it was nothing.  Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.  The worst came on June 29th when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.   

P.S. Check out my Facebook or Instagram for my 100 Day Challenge.

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