Hospitals, doctors, and my test

Jan. 28, 2015

The last thing I expected to learn after getting an emergency appendectomy was that I had a tumor on my right breast.

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Commentary by
Amber Levenhagen
Senior Staff Writer

The month after my surgery was spent in and out of hospitals, getting tests done to find if my tumor was cancerous.
After my first appointment with my doctor, he told me that he didn’t think it was. He told me it was probably benign, or harmless. So I put my fear to the back of my mind.

A week later, I went in for my first ultrasound.

The only knowledge I had on ultrasounds was that they are used to see babies in the womb. I started to worry that the tumor, a slightly painful and obvious bump on my chest, was going to affect other parts of my body.
The appointment went well, but it did not ease my fear. The very first thing my nurse told me was:

“Well, I’m sorry to be the one to bring you such bad news.”

Unfortunately, all she told me was that my bump wasn’t a cyst, something easy to handle. Which meant it was possibly something worse.  This uncertainty only made my fear grow.

My doctor then recommended I schedule a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure of removing tissue to analyze it and determine if it is harmful or not. They did a core needle biopsy; a hollow needle that removed samples of tissue.

He was kind and polite the entire time; after having my breasts fondled by so many doctors and nurses, I didn’t care that at the end it was a male performing the procedure.

I was lucky and thankful to learn that my tumor is benign, called fibroadenoma. I had an incredible team of doctors and nurses working with me that made this entire process as easy as it could have been.

The most incredible part of this entire experience has been the support that I have had. I hadn’t wanted to worry any of my family, so I kept it to myself until I knew my results.

After I came out about what I went through for the last month, the uncertainty of my future or my health, I had so many people reach out to me. Everyone who reached out to me shared a bit about themselves. Everyone seemed to be connected to cancer in some way.

While I am lucky enough to have been diagnosed with a benign tumor, cancer is something that has touched almost everyone’s lives.

The most important thing I learned from this experience was to reach out for help at any time. It’s not easy to go through this struggle alone.

I wish I could personally thank everyone who has reached out to me and offered help and support, and in turn offer support to anyone who might need it.

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