Digging Deeper for an Answer

June 6, 2016

I saw the Ear Nose and Throat doctor today. He was a friendly, Asian guy about 33 or so. He said that there was no risk of hitting an artery because the lump was not too close to it.  He performed an in-office BLIND needle biopsy.  I say BLIND because he simply felt the lump and poked the needle in that location.  

Before doing the biopsy, he did inform us (Daniel was with me) that there could be a possibility that he did not get enough cells to be able to make a determination if the lumps were cancerous or not.  I decided to take my chances because I wanted to go on vacation and have all of this “Cancer detection stuff” done with. Before doing the biopsy, he deadened (Sorry Danny…he hates when I use the word “deadened” to describe the use of anesthesia to “numb” an area) the area by sticking what seemed like a 4-inch needle into my neck (it probably wasn’t that long). This hurt, but I felt that it was worth it, especially if there was a remote possibility that I could have some peace while on my vacation.  

Anyways, after deadening the area, he began to poke in and out of my neck with a needle that seemed 8 inches long! (again, this may be a slight exaggeration) He said the CT scan revealed two areas, one that we could feel and see and another that was deeper.  The deeper area, he would not biopsy BLINDLY.  So he poked the large lump and then attempted to poke the smaller lump, almost launching me out of the chair!! OMG!  My left breast jumped and fluttered…He had hit a nerve! This brings the saying, “You are getting on my nerves” into a whole new perspective for me.  He called this area a neuroma, meaning that it was a nerve that had been messed with in the past and had developed scar tissue.  He stated that I have so many clips in my neck and that the lumps could just be scar tissue, especially since I am not feeling any discomfort from them.

After my knee-jerk reaction, he decided to stop the biopsy.  We all hoped that he got enough tissue/cells from the first lump to be able to make a determination of cancer recurrence or not.  During this visit, he also did an invasive throat check.  He stuck a long tube through my nose, all the way down to my throat and told me to swallow…ouch!!!!  He said all looked good in my throat.  No issues there.  Praise God.  

The doctor hoped to have the results of the biopsy soon and said I’d get a call.

June 10, 2016

I received a call while on vacation in MA that the biopsy yielded indeterminate results.  In other words, they could not determine if there was a cancer recurrence or not.  PET scan, here I come! Ugh!!!  Praise God, because had it yielded negative results for cancer, we would not be on this journey and my testimony (and perhaps my life) would have been cut short.

June 28, 2016

PET scan with radioactive dye was administered at the Anaheim Kaiser Radiology Department.  I was at peace and hopeful that the radioactive dye would not cause nausea.  I promised myself that I would keep my eyes closed as if to be asleep throughout the whole procedure because I have “claustrophobic” tendencies (smile).  I prayed the whole way through.  The PET scan was successful and I did not get sick from the radioactive dye.

July 5, 2016

As per a referral from the oncologist, my husband and I met with a general surgeon named Dr. JC.  With a name like that, one would assume that he was a brother, but in the OC you never know. Much to our surprise, in walks, a dark-skinned, bald man in his mid 60’s with keen features.  My initial internal reaction was that I wanted to just walk up to him and hug him because he reminded me so much of my dad whom I had not yet seen since he returned from Anguilla about 4 weeks ago!  

Anyways, Dr. JC examined the axillary lymph node (under my armpit) that was highlighted in the PET scan and was, therefore, an area of concern.  According to Dr. JC, the lymph node seemed of a normal size and did not seem any larger than the others around it.  He told us that the visit was somewhat premature in that he would not feel comfortable surgically removing the lymph node without a full determination of cancer recurrence.  He also said that a team of doctors would need to discuss my case in order to determine the best plan of action BEFORE  surgery anyway.  He suggested a future visit and went on to say that he would report to the oncologist that the node feels of normal size.  

July 7, 2016

We had a follow-up visit with the ENT who said that he felt we should “watch” the nodes for another 3-4 months and do another CT scan.  He did not think or see anything suspicious at the time.  He also said that he had a consultation with the Chief ENT who said that they would not do surgery on my neck to remove the swollen/hard lymph nodes because such a surgery would be too risky. Well, of course, I felt comfortable and safe with his opinion because I did not believe that I had a recurrence of cancer anyway.  Also, who wants to hear anything different, right?

Later the same day, we had a  follow-up appointment with my oncologist.  I could tell during the visit that he was very burdened and seemed to have very mixed feelings about what he should do or how he should proceed.  He listened to me and Daniel’s concerns and the opinions of the other doctors as we had shared with him.  Honestly, I did not want anymore test, nor did I want a biopsy!!! I just wanted him and all other doctors to leave me alone or soothe my emotional turmoil by saying, “ok, let’s wait and see if it grows and then we’ll run further tests.”   Well, God and Dr. K said NO! He told me that he wanted to be able to give me a definitive diagnosis and the only way that he would be able to do it was if I had a biopsy.  He said the biopsy sample would be studied by the pathologist and a definite YES or NO for cancer determination would be able to be made.  

I acquiesced.  What he was saying made perfect sense to me and Danny, and frankly, I could see the wear and tear of this journey on my husband’s face and the longing he had on his face for an answer.  From this time forward, EVERYTHING WAS DONE ON A “STAT” (asap) BASIS. Amen. Hallelujah.

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