Counting down to being cancer free . . . or was I?

Katharyn Brady By Katharyn Brady, 21st Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Recovery & Coping

Having just days left until I completed my radiation therapy sessions, I fantasized about returning to my former life and being cancer free...if only that was how the script would play out.

The end to radiation therapy was near.

Fantasies of returning to my former life danced in my head, as I began the count-down to the end of my radiation therapy sessions. No more daily visits to the Radiology office which created a 1 1/2 hour commute into work instead of my 30 minute commute from my home.

To say I was elated was an understatement. In December, I had met with the Medical Oncologist, but it didn’t look like I was going to need her services. I had a lump removed, it was radiated and I was going back to my former life. In a matter of days, I was going to be cancer free!

A new lump is discovered.

One morning, with only 3 radiation therapy sessions remaining, I noticed a red lump on the left side of my waist. It was about the size of a green pea. Alarmed, my first thought was why do I have a lump in my waist? My second thought was, could this be another Phyllodes Tumor? It sure felt like it.

In a matter of days, I was supposed to be cancer free. This did not feel fair, at all.

As soon as I arrived for my radiation appointment, I requested to speak to the Radiology Oncologist.

The doctor examined the lump and in his opinion, it wasn’t a Phyllodes Tumor. He suggested that I talk to my surgeon.

I arranged to meet with my surgeon later that day. Upon her examination, she didn’t think it would be a Phyllodes Tumor, as she had never seen a Phyllodes Tumor appear in the waist of any of her patients.

Always trust your intuition regardless of what others are telling you. Deep down I knew this was a Phyllodes Tumor. I knew what the one felt like in my breast and this felt exactly the same. Just because someone hasn’t ever seen anything like what you have, doesn’t make you wrong.

I had felt sucker punched when the surgeon said my original lump was 99.9% not going to be cancer. I wasn’t going to go through that again.

While in my surgeon's office, she said she wanted to remove the lump and have it biopsied by the lab. I agreed with this approach. Although “woulda, coulda, shoulda” doesn’t typically resolve anything from the past, it can help you make future decisions.

For example, if I had insisted that they remove the original tumor instead of performing a needle core biopsy would I be having a different experience? Possibly, it would have been benign or worst case, malignant and not sat in my body for 6 months.

In this situation, if the doctor had suggested a needle core biopsy, I would have insisted that it be removed and biopsied. If my surgeon wouldn’t do it, I was going to find someone who would.

The biopsy results are in.

It didn’t take long to receive the results of the biopsy. Confirmed: it was a malignant Phyllodes Tumor. This was considered a metastasis rather than a recurrence as it appeared in a location other than the original tumor.

My surgeon’s recommendation was to have it removed with wide margins.

Note: wide margins are where the surgeon is able to take all of the cancerous tissue, as well as healthy tissue. This ensures no cancerous tissue is left behind.

I agreed with her recommendation and the surgery was scheduled within the next few days.

Within one week, the pea size lump had grown to the size of a garbanzo bean and was painful.

I was relieved to have it out. I added a scar that looked like a shark bite to my collection.

A couple of weeks off to recover from the surgery, I would work from home another week. Maybe now I could get back to my former life and be considered cancer free.

Other articles by this author.

Katharyn's Journey with a rare form of cancer, Malignant Phyllodes Tumor.

Diagnosis: from benign to malignant.

Having cancer brought opportunities for healing and change.

Weigh the pros and cons of a decision and then commit.


Cancer, Cancer Diagnosis, Cancer Treatment

Meet the author

author avatar Katharyn Brady
I have survived cancer multiple times. It took 8 surgeries, 33 sessions of radiation and chemo therapy. My focus is on being healthy in mind, body and spirit and helping others do the same.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

I know that positive thoughts have a profound effect on curing cancer, or at least fighting it.

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
22nd Apr 2014 (#)

Mark, you are so right!

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