30 September 2009

Really? Really? (really!)

Yesterday, September 29th, 2009 I found out that I have cancer. Breast cancer. Really? It's only been about 18 hours since the surgeon called to tell me the results of the biopsy. It really hasn't sunk in yet. Well, I have moments of the reality of it, but mostly, I still don't really know what is coming. I mean, I know what I read about what could possibly be the things that are coming, but it isn't real yet. I woke up this morning, and took out butter to soften to make the icing, like any other day. And wedding cakes have to be iced, like any other day. But in my head, like bad ringing in my ears I hear the words "they found cancer, they found cancer, they found cancer".

Maybe the reason why I couldn't sleep last night was so that I wouldn't wake up this morning and think "maybe it was just a bad dream". No chance for that. You have to fall asleep to wake up.

The Back Story

I make wedding cakes. I own a small licensed home based wedding cake bakery. I started Cake Dreams in the spring of 2005. The years of overuse of my right upper arm and shoulder have left me in a great deal of pain. A few months ago, in early June, I finally went to the doctor about this matter and was referred to an orthopaedic doctor who sent me to physical therapy. This was a good thing, but also a painful thing.

One Saturday morning, as I was massaging my neck and shoulder to prepare for the day's work, I noticed a little lump right above my right collar bone. It was about the size of a black bean. Since my mother has dealt with chronic lymphoma for more than 10 years, I made an appointment with my wonderful family doctor, Dr. Musselman, who referred me to a general surgeon. He also suggested that since it had been a while since my last mammogram, that I have that done too. The results came back normal.

My visit with this surgeon was not good. And since I do not want to waste my time giving any attention to this man who barely gave me the time of the day, and pretty much told me he didn't find anything there (even though the resident who accompanied him found it immediately, because she listened to me about how to find it) I will just tell you that I decided to return to my doctor who then referred me to Dr. Sabah Hamad who is a breast surgeon.

Dr. Hamad did an ultra sound to see what was there. She also did a complete breast exam as well as view my recent mammogram. The little lump seemed like maybe it was just fatty tissue, so we both decided to watch it and I would return in three months to see if there were any changes. That was August 17th.

Ten days later, after a long day in the kitchen, I laid down on my side in bed, and when my upper right arm rested against my right breast I was shocked when I felt this huge hardness, about the size of half of a baseball. This was NOT there the week before. And to be truthful, I would say it wasn't there when I had showered last. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there. I just kept tabs on it for about a week, thinking perhaps it was just fibrous tissue swelling from monthly cycle related issues. But, cycle came and went, and big hard lump in breast did not.

I decided to bypass going back to Dr. Musselman and call Dr. Hamad, since I had just seen her two weeks earlier. That was September 10th

She was stunned. She acknowledged that wasn't there before. She did an ultrasound and it looked suspect. She said that it was possible that it was an infection, so she prescribed 10 days of heavy duty antibiotics. She also sent me for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist came in to speak with me and said that there was definitely a large dense mass there and that it was either infection or cancer. He admonished a biopsy. That was September 14th.


On September 24th, having completed the 10 days of antibiotic with no change in size of the affected area, I returned with my films and radiology report in hand to Dr. Hamad. She performed a biopsy in the office and said it would take until the next Tuesday for the results to come in. Now we wait.

My appointment was at 10:15 a.m. My daughter Catherine called to see if Doug was going with me and I said I thought that he was meeting me there, but she said she had just gotten off the phone with him and he said he wasn't coming. I called him, and because I had not specifically asked him to be there, he had not planned on coming too. I was hurt. The week before, when we knew this might be real, he had said he would be there with me all along the way. How could he not know how important it would be for me to have him there to support me if the results were cancer? I was unkind and told him not to come, that now I didn't want him there as a reminder of how little he cared about me.

Catherine called back and said she would come but I told her not to come and just let me do this by myself. Several minutes later, she arrived anyway. My daughter loves me.

When I was taken back to get blood pressure, etc, the nurse flipped through my chart and noted that the results had not yet come in. So, I left with the assurance that Dr. Hamad would call me when she received the pathology report.

And that brings us back to 1:00 yesterday afternoon. I was at a luncheon that was being held in my honor. We are moving this weekend, and so the ladies from church had an open house so that people could say good-bye. Several of my friends knew that I was waiting on the results. The call from Dr. Hamad came right in the middle of the party. When I came back into the room, I could see everyone's eyes reading my face. I tried so hard to smile and stay upbeat. But, there were so many sweet and caring eyes looking into mine that I could just nod my head "yes" and then the tears began to flow and the hugs came.

It was all wrong yet perfect. These sweet sisters knew even before my husband, my daughters and sons, my mother, and my best friend. But, I was grateful not to be alone. These women had gathered that afternoon for me thinking it was just to wish me well in my new home. But there was a greater purpose none of us could have ever predicted. I was strengthened by the power of the love in that room.

Love is power. I have felt it so many other times in my life.

At first, I thought I would name my BLOG The Power OF Love, like the song from Back to the Future. But, then I thought, no, love IS power. So that's where that came from.

It will be love's power that will help me through the next few days, months, years....how ever long it takes for this to resolve, what ever that will mean.

I will come here to write whatever is on my mind that day. I have no expectations, except to record my journey. I hope that I will have your company along the way. Together we'll experience what love's power can do to lift us all.


Catherine said...

I love you so much, Mom. We will make it through no matter what!!!

Caroline said...

You are an amazing person with a great attitude. We will be praying for you often! We love you!

Lisa said...

Sending you prayers and love from Iowa,

The Nelsons

melissa said...

I love you, Sally Plautz! I'm praying for you and your family and admire your courage in sharing your experience.

The Reed's said...

Sister Plautz you are in our prayers. Thanks for sharing this blog with us.

The Reeds

Alana said...

Wow, that's powerful. We have 3 family members going through cancer themselves and I know how hard it must be. May I recommend Elder Maxwell's biography, a Disciple's Life. I'm only through the first part and its already so touching.

Phyllis said...

WOW! Having received a similar phone call I can so relate to what you are dealing with--let me just say that it was an amazing journey to find out without a doubt that God knows me personally and "it" is in his hands. Love you!

Mindy said...

We're praying for you and your family!
Joseph and Mindy

vickie said...

Sally, what a wonderful blog and what a brave lady. I also have had family members who have been going through this over the years. I just wanted to say that I am confident you can do this and look back one day knowing God is with you. Our loving support and prayers. Your blog is an inspiration.
Vickie Erickson

Lynne said...

I know you are a very strong person and that knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ has helped you be so courageous. I pray often for you.

I appreciate that you are so frank in your blog. I feel that I really know a lot about what is going on.

Lynne Barton

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