Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
(#4 in a series)
Breast biopsy day has arrived. Stephanie, the ultrasound technician from yesterday was back, and she and Dr. H prepped me for the procedure. The ultrasound would be used first to help pinpoint the two masses. I shivered as a cold antiseptic was spread all around the breast area.
I was positioned with my right arm behind my head and tilted over slightly to my left, oddly putting me in mind of a glamour shot. I wish. A local anesthetic was given with a needle. That was a first for me. Needles in the breast.
The actual biopsy procedure was uncomfortable and strange. The larger tumor was easy to get to, but the smaller one was situated deeper and difficult to reach. The loud clicking noises were unsettling, but Dr. H and Stephanie kept up the chatter, keeping me quite at ease.
It lasted longer than I anticipated, the needles probing the tumors to find exactly the right spot that would give the doctors the information they needed. I wondered what my husband would think if he could see what was happening to me. I swear I saw “the look” again. Dr. H and Stephanie likely already knew that I had cancer, but were in no position to confirm. I appreciated their professionalism and their amazing bedside manner.
Prior to the procedure, I was told that a mammogram is usually taken immediately after biopsy so that the biopsy sites can be recorded for future reference. Dr. H said he thought he’d “let me off the hook” for the mammogram. He said it kindly, with a soft smile, his hand gently touching my shoulder. Now I’m not the world’s best face reader, but I figured he didn’t need a mammogram because he knew that particular breast would not be around much longer. That was the moment I knew, at least internally, that I had cancer.
We were disappointed to find that we had to wait until an appointment set a full five days later to receive the results. An eternity. During that time I would work and attend a few social functions, all the while thinking about the future of my right breast, and my life.
The Purpose of a Breast Biopsy
From Mayo Clinic: “It may take a few days before your biopsy results are available. After the biopsied breast tissue has been studied, the pathologist writes up a detailed report containing information about the tissue samples taken. The pathology report includes details about the size, color and consistency of the tissue samples, the location of the biopsy site, and whether cancer cells were present. If breast cancer is present, the pathology report provides important information about the cancer itself, such as what type of breast cancer you have and whether the cancer is hormone receptor positive or negative.”
Next: A Call from the Doctor, Telling the Family, and… ice cream