by C.C. Howell
I had always been very healthy. I never really went to the doctor for things other than basic check-ups or the occasional sinus infection or bronchitis. But that changed in the early 90's. In 1993, I suffered a traumatic break-up with a boyfriend and was put on Prozac to help with a major depression I was in. I lost nearly 50 pounds within a month. I suffered from insomnia, had trouble with my sinuses and many other little ailments. Then I met David.
I wasn't ready for any type of relationship and he was coming on strong. After about 2 months of seeing each other I broke it off. A few months later I thought about him for a friend of mine. I introduced them and it was hate at first site. Within 2 minutes they were at each other's throats. They both have smart-ass attitudes and clashed immediately. This was how it was meant to be. Shortly after that, David and I began seeing each other again.
I was offered a job in Little Rock with the Arkansas Radio Network and KARN News Radio, which I accepted. David moved down a week later and asked me to marry him. I said yes and started planning our wedding.
I began having some problems with my stomach and intestines. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Our wedding was beautiful in April of 1995. About 3 months after our wedding my father died of cancer. We began trying to conceive a child as soon as we got married, with no luck. I charted, I temped, and I counted days. We did the deed every other day without fail and nothing! No babies. In 1996, I finally became pregnant, but soon after I miscarried. We were devastated.
In late 1996, I noticed a knot around my left collarbone that would pop out and then hide behind the bone. I was told by several doctors that it was a lymph node, but was nothing to be concerned about. They said lymph nodes swell sometimes and that means they are doing their job. I saw about 7 different doctors about the swollen node and all said the same thing to me. "Lymph nodes swell, there's nothing to be concerned about, you're too young to worry about cancer."
In early 1997 we moved to Louisiana. I decided to go get checked out for our infertility. Dave and I both underwent a series of tests. Finally, an ultrasound revealed "cysts" around my ovaries. The diagnosis -- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is not life threatening so we decided to not do anything about it at the time. We were both working long hours in a stressful job.
In late 1998, we moved back home to Arkansas. I was hired as the morning show host for a 50 thousand watt Country Music station. During this time I started noticing more lumps. Under each arm I had a ping-pong ball size lump. In my left groin I had one about the size of a tennis ball. And I also noticed I couldn't wear anything tight around my abdomen. I hadn't worn a pair of jeans in a couple of years...only stretch pants. I later found out I had a baseball to softball size mass of lymph nodes in my upper abdomen.
Approximately a year after taking that position, I was interviewing a nurse with the local health department that I had known for many years. After the interview I spoke with her about my POS and infertility. She recommended a new doctor in town. She said he looked like he was 12 but was very good with women's health issues. I made an appointment.
My first appointment was routine. We simply talked and then set up an appointment for a full physical and pap.
At my second appointment when the doctor actually felt and looked at my lumps he became concerned. We discussed family history. In addition to my father's cancer, both my grandmothers had breast cancer. The doctor was concerned about that possibility. He scheduled a mammogram for me for December 7th with a return appointment on the 28th for the results. On December 8th I received a phone call from the doctor himself. He was alarmed with the results and wanted me to go see a surgeon the next day. As I was going to be alone in the radio station on that day, a Friday to run 3 stations by myself, there was no way I could make that appointment. We scheduled for first thing Monday morning.