Diagnosis: from benign to malignant.

Katharyn Brady By Katharyn Brady, 17th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Recovery & Coping

In May of 2013, I received a diagnosis for a tumor in my right breast: benign fiberadenoma. Within 4 months, that diagnosis turned into a malignant Phyllodes Tumor. It is a rare form of cancer. Only 1 in 2 million people receive this diagnosis in the US each year.

My journey from benign to malignant.

In mid October 2013, the strangest thing happened. A lump which had been dormant for over 4 months was suddenly pressing against my skin as though it was trying to get out from inside of my breast. It had begun to grow, and grow fast with pain.

Sometimes, it felt like someone was pouring lemon juice on an open cut. Other times, it would throb or feel like I had a sharp knife stuck inside of me. But, it was very intermittent. Since I was scheduled to see my doctor within the week, I knew I would discuss this sudden update with her then.

While I waited for the days to pass until my appointment, I started reasoning in my head that everything was going to be fine. For example, I was having this painful experience and reminded myself that breast cancer doesn't hurt. I was meditating and declaring healing on my body. I had lost 30 pounds and maintained my weight. I was eating healthy, organic foods. My relationship with God is #1. I am faithful and obedient to God. I believed I had nothing to worry about.

When my appointment with my doctor finally arrived, she felt the mass over and over again. She reminded me of our agreement from May of 2013. If the lump changed in anyway, she would remove and re-biopsy the lump.

Prior to leaving her office, we scheduled October 24, 2013 as the date that I could have this painful lump removed. Her parting words to me were, "99.9% your lump will not be breast cancer".

October 24, 2013 came quickly. Once the surgery was complete and I was in recovery, my surgeon reported her initial findings to my family. It was a Phyllodes Tumor that appeared benign, but as a precaution they took excess tissues as was standard practice. The tumor would be biopsied and the results would be available in a few days.

The first three days of recovery are pretty much a blur to me. Between the pain medication and general anesthesia, I was out of it. By the third day, the pain medication caused me to hallucinate. I heard noises that weren't there, "beep, beep, boop, boop". I was aware that I was on the couch, but thought I was laying on the love seat with my husband at the same time. Although the hallucinations weren't severe, I was afraid if I kept taking the pain meds, it could escalate.

We had people praying for me/us and I could feel it. Many people offered their support. Little did I know how important that support was going to be.

October 27, 2013 was day 4 of my recovery. All was fine until that night. At 10:00 p.m., my husband's defibrillator kicked off, shocking his heart. It did this twice within 10 minutes, He went into congestive heart failure. If the defibrillator kicks off 6 times in a row, the defibrillator no longer works.

I called our neighbors to come over to help me. If my husband needed CPR, I was not going to be able to perform it.

Have you ever called 911? A lot of people fill up your home with Fire Fighters and the ambulance crew. Normally, I'm the conductor, answering all of the questions, providing all of the directions. But this time, all I could do was lay on the couch.

They moved my husband into the ambulance and our neighbor followed them to the hospital. Our neighbor stayed at the hospital until my husband was admitted.

I was left alone in our apartment.

I will be completely honest, angry tears poured from my eyes as I questioned God why was I left alone when I needed help. I felt abandoned. It was a familiar theme throughout my life starting with my biological father. He had been my caregiver from birth until 1 year old, as my mother worked outside of the home.

One day, he became very ill and left to live with his mother. He never returned. As an infant, all I understood was the person I depended on was no longer there.

Throughout my life, I have chosen people I wouldn't be able to count on for help. This is a core reason I developed the belief never depend on anyone except for myself.

My husband is the first person who helped me to break this pattern in my life. He has always been someone I could count on.

However, when he was rushed to the hospital while I lay helpless on the couch, it triggered the old, deep wounding that no one would be there for me.

This experience was challenging my belief that God is always with us. If that was true, where was He now? How could He allow this to happen?

Technically, I knew I would be okay. I could call my sister or my neighbor. But, the fact that I was recovering from major surgery and I was going to have to call for help, it felt so unfair. Where was my loving God?

Since my husband was in the hospital, I called our friend Bobbe to take me to my follow up appointment with my surgeon.

My emotions were so raw. I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

My doctor explained that the mass she removed was a Malignant Phyllodes Tumor. This tumor is very rare and only occurs 1 in 2,000,000 people, mostly women. They were able to remove the full tumor plus a healthy margin of tissue.

Wait...what? Malignant? Does that mean it is cancer? I couldn't believe this. My husband was fighting for his life in ICU and I'm laying on the examining table by myself.

I'm trying to absorb what the surgeon was saying and I was numb. I was in complete shock. I was not prepared to hear this. This was not supposed to be cancer.

My surgeon was going to refer me to a Radiology Oncologist for my next steps.

I left the surgeon's office with feelings of numbness and disbelief.

And there it was. I was going to have to ask for help. The very thing I've avoided all of these years. God was offering me a chance to heal those past experiences and form a new belief. There are people who are not only willing, but really want to help me. Our neighbors and Bobbe would be just some of the many who were already stepping forward.

Other articles by this author.

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


Cancer, Cancer Diagnosis

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
18th Apr 2014 (#)

What a shock I am sure.

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
18th Apr 2014 (#)

Absolutely, it was. Thank you.

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author avatar Desert Reveries
18th Apr 2014 (#)

" I can feel what you are going through Madam, my family had experienced this situation before. Be strong.

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
18th Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you.

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author avatar Sandy Housley
18th Apr 2014 (#)

Keep writing about it, Katharyn. Honest, open truth is what we all need to hear.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
18th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Katharyn, at 19, I was diagnosed with cancer, I am now 66. You are in my thoughts, prayers and meditation. Please keeps us posted, and thank you for sharing this. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
19th Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you Marilyn for the words of encouragement. I hope to be like you!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
20th Apr 2014 (#)

It is tough for anyone to be in the position you found yourselves in, Katharyn. Having lived a life not depending on even my immediate family I know how it feels to ask for help. However, our Creator has few in line ready and willing to be of service as we are all His children. We pass through stages in life, good and bad alternate - siva

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
20th Apr 2014 (#)

Siva, you are so right. This was my exact experience. I am so blessed. It is so much better to be in community than to try and navigate our lives alone.

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author avatar Michelle
10th Apr 2015 (#)

Dear Katharyn,
Thank you so much for sharing. I have been diagnosed with benign phyllodes, but have been so very worried about recurrence and the fact that it could change grades. I have felt so alone going through surgeries and fear, and my husband is not supportive. I have cried alone so many nights. Your story and bravery have helped so much. Do you ever worry about recurrence, or have you found peace to go on with your life? What kind of follow up appointments do you have if I may ask? God bless you and you may email if you wish. Michelle


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