by Debbie Mobley
In the Spring, I was really enjoying life. I was 28 years old, married to a great man for 3 years, living in our first home, and looking better than ever. I was just about in my third trimester and was having a very easy pregnancy. I just loved being pregnant. But my wonderful world was about to be turned upside down with a breast cancer diagnosis, something I never thought would happen to me.
I was lying on my side in bed one night and felt this pain in my right breast. The next morning during my shower, I did a self-exam. I felt this huge lump that just seemed to pop up overnight -- I had never noticed it before. I thought it was just a clogged milk duct, so I brushed it off. I decided if it was still there in another week, I would call my OBGYN to see if I should come in. A week came and went, and about two weeks later I called my OBGYN's nurse.
She said that what I was experiencing was not normal and to come in ASAP. Well, that scared me to death, but I still was not thinking "cancer." I knew my great-grandmother had died from it in her 50's, but my grandmother and mom had never had any problems.
At my appointment, I saw another doctor because mine was out delivering a baby. He gave me a physical breast exam and said that he thought it was nothing. But he wanted to be safe, so he sent me across the hall to a breast surgeon to have it checked further. The breast surgeon also thought it was nothing, but she did a FIN (fine needle biopsy) and aspirated some fluid from the lump to have it analyzed. I went back to work teaching second grade and put it out of my mind for a day.
But the next afternoon as I was busy doing after schoolwork in my room with a former student's help, I got a phone call on my cell phone. It was the breast surgeon. She said she had the results of my test and it was breast cancer. I remember that my first thought was that I was going to die and I was going to loose the baby. At 26 weeks pregnant, I just didn't see any way out other than that.
I barely heard the doctor say that she could meet me at her office that evening at 6:30pm. I knew that meant that this was very serious. I agreed to the meeting and immediately called my husband at work. I told him that I had cancer and I just became hysterical. I felt like I couldn't breath. He told me to calm down and drive carefully home and he would get there as soon as he could. I got off the phone with him, went back into my room, and told the student who was helping me that I had to take her home early because I had an urgent appointment. I don't know how I remained calm in that moment.
I got my student helper home and made it to my house without incident. I walked into my baby's nursery and just fell to my knees and cried. I thought "this will never be." I will never know what it is like to be a mom. My life is over and so is my baby's life. It was the worst feeling in the world. I managed to compose myself by the time my husband got home and he found me on the couch watching TV having a snack. He had the look of sheer terror in his eyes, but he remained calm. We had no idea what we were dealing with, so there was no point in fearing the worst just yet. Easier said than done!
At the surgeon's office that night, we were faced with the picture of our future. She said my baby should be fine, but that my tumor was very large and most likely had spread to my lymph nodes. She recommended I have a mastectomy that Friday to remove my right breast. Then I would do chemo while pregnant. I didn't hear much else than that. I felt no comfort in her words and her reassurances that the baby would be fine did not console me. My husband and I left there in complete shock and bewilderment, still not knowing what was going to happen to me.