PLAYFAIR-SCOTT … it was just a tiny lump, but one I noticed in the shower
This is the second of a four-part series by marketing and public relations specialist Tara Playfair-Scott, who disclosed last week that she was diagnosed with cancer of the breast and was taking adequate steps to fight the disease. Last week she related how her first chemotherapy treatment had gone in Mexico, and follows up this week with additional details of a situation that has changed her life. This comes when Jamaicans are observing Breast Cancer Month in October.
It was my last chemo treatment before getting on a flight back to Jamaica. Instead of distracting myself with Netflix or idle conversation via WhatsApp, I closed my eyes and thought back to two months ago … I had just got back to Jamaica from five weeks in North America working with a client on a Diaspora tour, which ended with me celebrating my birthday in Washington DC … I was now readying up for the United Kingdom leg of the tour, National Trials and Olympics in Rio, and what was going to be a busy summer.
Little did I know….
No one wakes up thinking today my whole life is going to be turned upside down… But May 18 was the day my world would change.
It started out like any other… had meetings, then headed to a quick doctor’s appointment, even stopped at the Chinese restaurant and ordered dinner, which I would pick up after leaving the appointment. I went into the appointment to get results from a biopsy … I was already so sure I knew what the doctor would say … a fibroadenoma (as I had done my research on the
Internet), so when I sat down I was feeling pretty good and we made small talk. I explained that I had been away, I was feeling pretty tired, but we continued to make small talk. She then said: “Well let’s talk about the results … So Tara…. It is cancer… “ I think I actually said to her “What?”, because I was sure I didn’t hear her correctly. She nodded and repeated herself and went on to tell me it was Stage Two. Needless to say, it was … I was in shock. After that, I remember her telling me that it was still early and treatable, and she began giving me the various treatment options and telling me to think about it or if she should call anyone, but everything else after that became foggy. I remember thinking and I believe I said “My life is over… “
Cancer? Me? Seriously?
It was just a tiny lump… But one I noticed in the shower… it gave me pause, but having had cysts in my breast since college I chalked it up to just another one that would eventually “remedy itself”.
Fast-forward three months to January 2016, I felt a sharp pain in my right breast and that combined with the lump sent me straight to Google (rolls eyes). I did every search combination possible on lumps in the breast and pain and location and size … At the end of that marathon search I had convinced myself it was definitely a cyst as I had first suspected. (phew) I could move on.
Four to six more weeks passed and by March this “cyst” had grown… The alarm bells began to sound and maybe I needed to get this cyst drained. It wasn’t going away or getting smaller as the others had. I called my gynaecologist and explained. He said I should call the office and come in. I called, but the nurse said he was booked back-to-back but I could come and wait. I pictured that waiting room in my head and had ruled that out swiftly.
Think Tara! Think! It came to me … My cousin had recently opened Fairco Medical Centre and it had different doctors. I wondered if any were gynaecologists. I logged on and looked. I didn’t see a general practitioner (GP) or gynaecologist, so I
WhatsApp’d her and asked her what kind of doctors she had … She asked me to check out her
Facebook Page (lol) and I told her I would, but to consider the set-up of her site and put the GP before the nutritionist. At the end of our very normal convo, I got the info and made an appointment later that day.
I went in to see the doctor who graciously listened to what brought me there … She examined me and said it was important that I go and get a mammogram and possibly an ultrasound (once I did the mammogram they would guide me re ultrasound), but that was the first and most important step. She made sure to tell me that we couldn’t determine anything without doing one or both, and that they would also tell me if a biopsy is needed. I asked her why couldn’t they just take out the lump and figure it out from there. She said these were the steps we needed to take and I felt a little concerned, but I wasn’t worried and a few weeks later I went to do the mammogram.
At that point I felt a little nervous … mammograms are no fun, but I wasn’t concerned about the discomfort, just the results. Once the technician got the images, she told me to wait as they wanted to do an ultrasound, Ooooh boy … A few minutes later I was in another room with gel and an ultrasound wand making its way around my breast. “What are you seeing?” I asked, “Is it bad?” She wasn’t really taking me on … Eventually she said she wasn’t the doctor and the doctor would be in shortly. Alright, well the doctor came in and took over and I asked the same questions. She told me my breasts were dense and she saw cysts, but this lump looked like “an aggressive mass” that couldn’t be determined from the ultrasound. Yes, I needed a biopsy. I remember saying to myself, “Here we go!”
A week later I had the biopsy done — it was one of the most painful experiences. They were initially going to take three to five samples. It ended up being a dozen. I had a lot of bleeding after and I left there, went home and went straight to bed. They told me the results would be back in a week or two. However, I had a Diaspora tour to do for a client, so I had to leave before the results came back — it was a cyst anyway, right?
What happened after that biopsy is that the lump steadily got bigger along with the pain and I noticed that where they went in to get the sample was beginning to protrude — it was as if the growth was angry. (Tip: If you get a biopsy and it comes back malignant, be prepared to deal with it as soon as you get your results, whether surgery or chemo.)
Part three next week