The date of my mammogram was November 5th. The day of my biopsy was November 12th. In short, it was an agonizing wait. We did not tell the kids because we obviously hoped it was negative. To be honest, I can’t even remember telling my parents, or when I told them. It had to have been awful. On November 20th, Dr. Khouri called my cell phone. I was standing at my bathroom sink. His soft, kind voice started. I am sorry, Ms. Moore. You have breast cancer.
So you’re asking yourself, how did we go from triathlons and left breast pain to this shit show? Likewise, I ask myself that very same question. How the heck did my life turn into this? For instance, one minute I’m running babies to Mother’s Morning Out, Pre-k and Kindergarten, getting groceries in my two-hours of freedom, the next I am sidelined with this. Head spinning, I am ordered to have an MRI, which leads to more biopsies and ultimately, I start interviewing surgeons.
Here is where I will offer some advice. You absolutely must interview surgeons. Do not just go to the person that is close to you and call it a day. I live in a rural area outside of a major metropolitan area. I went to my local person thinking that would be a good fit. After all, they drive in from the big city, so I could receive big-city care while staying close to home and continue taking care of my kids. Win-win. Minimal interruption for my kids because a mom’s job is never done and excellent care for me. This is just a stumbling block (ha).
My dear friend and cancer survivor gives me advice: go to a breast center. Do not manage your own care. Go to a center where the surgeon, radiation oncologist, oncologist are all on the same team. They are reviewing your case in concert and are all communicating. Of course, I had to chart my own path so away I went to the surgeon closest to home.
My husband and I go into his office and sit across the desk from him. A man in his late forties (I’m terrible with age) sits across the desk. He explained his approach to my situation. He was dry and to the point then asked if we had any questions. That was it. Leaving the office my husband (also a doctor) told me that man would not be touching me. I was starting to think that perhaps my friend was right.
After that, our next stop was at Johns Hopkins Breast Center. But before we get to that, I need to take a moment to discuss privilege. We have the privilege to have the means and the access to the best healthcare options. It is my privilege to have access to a provider who listens to me and is willing to order testing early. I am empowered to seek medical care when something isn’t right. I experience positive appointments without barriers. And now, I have the means and ability to drive myself over two hours to one of the premier research hospitals in the United States. In sum, I wish we all had such access.
When I met my doctor, he impresses me. Above all, he wants to know me. He asks about my kids and how I am doing. I ask about his kids and get to know him as well. He does an exam. He talks to me and my husband about my results and about our options.
Above all, we have options. Radical mastectomy or lumpectomy with radiation. We need more testing before we made any decisions and nothing needs to happen fast. Really dude, did you hear I have CANCER? In addition, Christmas is fast approaching. He wants me to soak in my babies who were now 3, 5 and 6 years old. The plan is to finish up the testing and to make the best clinical decision based on that information. I make my decision. I hire Dr. Euhus. He passed the interview. I would not do what was easy, I would do what was in my best interest.