The Diagnosis – Part III – The Biopsy

In my agreement on my About page, I said I wouldn’t post anything disgusting or revealing here, and I meant it, so no pics here!! Well, not of body parts, anyway.

Y’all know what biopsies are. What I will say is that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be, and that was good. It was still scary, though. Normally, you’d get the results back in a day or maybe two. My biopsy was on a Friday, so I didn’t get results back until Tuesday.

A Piece of Advice
For anyone else needing a biopsy, a piece of advice – the pressure wrap and the ice do help keep swelling and bruising down, so be sure to keep both on and keep it iced as long as you can. I kept mine on for 6 hours afterward. I ended up with a very slight bruise about the size of my thumb. I’m also willing to give credit to the radiologist and technician doing the procedure for minimizing bruising.

Because I’ve had both knee and shoulder surgeries, I have an entire section of my freezer set aside for ice packs. I have all kinds of sizes from eye patch to 14″ x 14″ blanket. I used them all that day.

For those of you who don’t know me that well, I’ve been a photographer since high school. I prefer the artsy-fartsy stuff, but I’ve shot weddings and events and been paid to do so. I used to love playing in the dark room and would lose all sense of time pretty much any time I was there.

If you recall, I was getting ready for a big work trip when I discovered my mass. I was going to be in Albuquerque for a couple of weeks, and I’d already driven to the top of Sandia Crest to scope out places to shoot the Milky Way. I had rented the new Nikon D850 from and was really looking forward to catching some of those beautiful New Mexico sunsets and stars on top of the mountain with that camera. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, I had to decide what to do about the camera rental. I know how popular this camera is going to be, and how hard it would be to rent one later, so I decided to keep the rental and just have it sent home.

It arrived the day before the biopsy was scheduled. I worked a full day that day. I took a couple of shots off the back patio just to make sure all was okay. I worked up to the appointment time on Friday as well, and was thinking I’d be able to get some shots downtown after my appointment. I wasn’t aware I was going to be wrapped like a mummy afterward and had taken it with me to shoot downtown Seattle. When I found that I couldn’t move, I gave up that idea and figured I’d get some shooting in over the weekend.  I woke up Saturday feeling relatively decent – I’ve been finding myself completely exhausted on weekends and sometimes needing a nap during the week. I had attributed these to stress and not getting enough sleep and generally getting older. Anyway… I was up at a decent hour on Saturday and went to see if my favorite 10 year old model wanted to come out and shoot with me. She would go with me but not to take pics. I take my opportunities to hang with her when I can get them, so I went with it. Sunday I crashed all day. So now it’s 5 days I haven’t used this camera. Fortunately, I’d asked for a couple of days off the following week because I needed it mentally and I wanted to get away to take pics without crowds of people around. Monday I went out to one of my favorite spots to shoot – Ellensburg, WA. I stopped at some of the parks and other roads I’ve not really traveled before looking for shots. I found a few. I usually shoot barns out in Ellensburg, so I did that, too, before it got dark and I needed to get back. Tuesday, I took it out Highway 2 and went toward Leavenworth, WA.

This isn’t the timeline of events my family knows. I needed time to process the information and find out what was next before I confirmed to them that this was cancer. I pretty much knew the minute I found it that it was a problem. I had 6 weeks to think about it already and think about the decisions I’d be making, so a cancer diagnosis wasn’t going to throw me too far. That said, I still needed to mentally prepare myself for my family’s reactions to the actual results.

The call with the results came just as I was huffing and puffing my way up the boat ramp at Lake Crescent – while thinking I needed to start getting some decent exercise again – and the nurse says the biopsy was positive.  I have abnormal cells in both my breast mass and my lymph nodes. It is Invasive Ductile Carcinoma…  I also knew the basic process of what was next – meet with surgeons and oncologists and find out the treatment plan. She says my care nurse will call me with the meeting details. Surgery Nurse calls about 10 minutes later and the appointments get scheduled.

I was never so glad to be out near mountain streams, surrounded by falling leaves and pretty little waterfalls with Spanish Moss all around with a great camera in my hands.

A Piece of Advice: Take whatever time you need to process what you know, think about what you don’t know, and decide what you want to do next. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself through this process. There is no law that says you have to tell anyone, much less those close to you, the minute you find out that you have cancer. For most women, I think this is like probably a little bit like finding out you’re pregnant – you want to keep this secret for yourself and your husband for a bit before you share it with the rest of the family. You’re allowed to do that.


About Pink Ribbon Road

This blog is about receiving and living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
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