Five weeks after I had X-man, I found myself in the bowels of Carle getting a breast ultrasound. I had found a lump, and while we were pretty sure it was a blocked milk duct, we had to be sure. Of course, the place you get sent was into the prior breast cancer department, where a collection of a half dozen women waited for their ultrasounds all looking ferociously somber in a lavender painted room.
The ultrasound was inconclusive, so the only thing I could do was wait to see if it changed size after I stopped attempting to breastfeed three weeks later. It reduced in size gradually and then went away. But I never forgot the feeling in that room. The idea that after having a really unhappy pregnancy, an even worse birthing experience and a rough time balancing medical issue after medical issue between myself and the baby that getting the news that I had cancer was probably going to give me a mental break down.
I was lucky.
Today, I get to report back to Carle. I'm visiting a hematologist in the Mills Cancer Institute to go over my blood issues. I'm happy to go because I'm hoping to find answers as to why after a year of supplements my body still won't absorb iron, why my platelet numbers are on the low side and why it appears as if my body is destroying healthy platelets. On the other hand, I'm also scared. There's this thing about cancer -- it's like poverty in that it harms everyone. No one is exempt. You can live your life exercising with an excellent lipid panel and no history while eating your all organic diet -- and you could still end up with cancer. On the same note, you could smoke a pack a day and not get cancer.
I know several cancer survivors and some who died fighting the disease. Some of the survivors pray every day that the beast doesn't come back. Some keep battling it as it comes back years later. One survivor has become a spokesperson in her urban environment about the type of cancer she beat at 33. Family of these people run, walk, raise money, volunteer and do whatever they can in the fight to find a cure. I've watched it destroy families. I've watched it bring them together.
There's a certain amount of discomfort I have about walking through an institute so well versed about the intricacies and diversity of such a disease. It humbles me, but still I have to go. But inside, I really wished hematology had their own offices in some other building... because let's face it. I'm a big sentimental wuss.
Update: I saw Dr. David Graham, who apparently lives on my street. He was very nice. He did a consult with me and then ordered a bunch of labs. He mentioned that there might even be something in the way the other lab takes blood and tries to preserve it to transport to Indiana to process that could be affecting my platelets in their numbers. But Carle took 7 vials of blood -- one they apparently messed up, so I have to go back in tomorrow and give some more. He's having me increase my iron supplements to two -- and hopefully up to three a day, versus the one I was doing each day and the two a day I take during my period. He also took a urine sample because I have history of protein in my urine, which can, apparently, lead us down a whole different path. He did say that I shouldn't worry about not being able to clot. :-) I apparently have more than enough platelets for that.
I do the supplements and then go back to get tested again in six weeks. He's hoping to have new baseline numbers from blood that doesn't have to travel 300 miles to get examined. Yes, it's going to cost me a mint in lab work, but I'd rather know for sure, ya know?