Got a call from the genetic counselor this morning. Ducked into the tiny “phone booth” room sandwiched between the men’s room and the two mother’s rooms in our office for the impression of privacy. As one who used to sit at a desk just outside all three amenities, don’t be fooled: there’s no sound-proofing in that snug refuge.

Good news! Genetic testing revealed….nothing. Sharp little tears of relief.

And I scheduled the MRI-guided biopsy for the first available time slot. Which is 10 days from now. When asked how long the procedure should take, Nurse said, “Give yourself three hours.”

Which means that 229.5 hours from now, I should be out of the dreaded MRI machine and wearing an ice pack.



This week was….long. Surgery can’t happen until there’s an answer for the “to what extent?” question. At the suggestion of my oncologist, two additional tests were performed.

On Tuesday, I went for genetic counseling and a blood test. Might not be covered by insurance. It can take 2 weeks for results to come back.

Friday morning I went for an MRI. A dazed-looking woman in the locker room shared that she’d just had an MRI biopsy. Did not know that was a thing. Did not realize this was foreshadowing.

I do not care for physical confinement. Never been a fan of krautrock. Face-down in a tiny tube for forty-five minutes pushed my limits considerably. After an initial panic attack, I dug in. Effective coping mechanisms included diaphragmatic breathing, giving Kraftwerk the benefit of the doubt, and creating elaborate narratives about how Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick secretly hated the avant-garde and retreated to the comforts of milk and gingham after long days at the Factory.

For the second half, a contrast agent was injected via IV.  Through the earplugs I heard the sweet technician say, “You will feel cold. It will taste funny.” It was freezing and my mouth filled with metallic dirt. And then it was over and she said results would come back in 4-5 days. I went to work with smudged mascara and lines all over my face.

The doctor called a few hours later; I ducked out of a meeting to answer  (anyone else noticing a trend here?). Suspicious-looking spots were sighted. Another biopsy will be performed. An MRI biopsy. I need to work on my breathing.

Baby steps

I can identify with the thought that “hope is the thing with feathers*.” But patience is a virtue with which I am not endowed.

Today was the first step of many. We met with my surgical oncologist for the first time to map out what I thought was the full plan for kicking the shit out of breast cancer.

Turns out this will be more of a prolonged lingchi effort than one epic street brawl. More tests are needed to determine the extent and type of surgery required. And I was stunned to learn that the treatment plan can’t be formed until after the results of surgery.

So…booking more appointments and taking things one step at a time over here. And trying to remain hopeful.

*Really looking forward to that new movie about Miss Emily Dickinson.

Support system

Scary times reveal truths. As Magic Johnson said, “When something happens to you…and then you find out who really your friends are.”

I’m fortunate to have a deep bench of friends from every court, pitch, field, and locker room of my life. Which is funny because I suck at sports and don’t play any.

The support and generosity from friends and family is humbling. And then there’s the Husband, who has been my champion since 1997.

Diagnosis breast cancer

Bless me, mother, for I have sinned. It’s been 4 years since my last mammogram.

In early April, I went for a regular screening mammogram. Which got a call back. Literally: They call you on your cell phone when you’re sitting at your desk in your open floor plan office environment.

A week later, there was a diagnostic mammogram. And ultrasound. The perfectly-seasoned radiology technician took 60 images.

The next afternoon, there was a biopsy. Ultrasound-guided removal of tissue via a long needle, with tiny titanium clips nail-gunned in to mark six spots. And right after that, another mammogram. Hell yes, it hurt.

At the end of the next business day, another phone call. Excuse me please, advertising colleagues, while I step out of our meeting to talk about invasive ductal carcinoma.