January 8th, 2018. My Biopsy.
My friend and coworker Terri, whose mother had breast cancer, told me I should take someone to the biopsy with me. Me being the tough and independent woman I like to pretend I am, I ignored her advice. I told my family I was headed in for a biopsy and everyone told me they had lumps in their armpits too and it’s just milk. I knew this as well but told them my doctor was just being on the safe side.
At the biopsy I first saw the ultrasound technician. She was the same one that gave me the confirmation just 5 days before that I was having a girl. She was very nice and comforting. Soon after the Radiologist came in and told me my lymph node was twice the size as it was just 3 weeks before from my first ultrasound. He assured me that it was not a cyst and most likely not cancer because cancer did not grow that fast. He measured my lymph node as 8 cm long. I thought I mentally prepared myself for the biopsy. Co-workers told me they numb the area and use this “gun” type thing to pull out samples. I was totally prepared, I knew exactly what was gonna happen and I knew that it was a basic procedure. But then the radiologist and the ultrasound tech gloved up, put on masks and face shields and my mental preparedness went out the window. My heart rate started racing and I couldn’t breathe. I felt a panic attack coming on. I told them that I was getting nervous and when I get nervous, I vomit or cry. I could feel tears coming. The biopsy had not yet started. They were still prepping and looking at the ultrasound to find an entrance area. I was trying to calm myself, I knew this was a simple procedure, I knew what they were going to do and I prepared myself mentally for it. The doctor even showed me the tools he was going to use. It did not help calm me. The tears were not going away. I had to take a deep breath and I then looked over at a photo on the wall. It was a photo of Bear Butte. It was a beautiful photograph of a very sacred place to our Lakota people. I felt relief and was able to breath. I started to relax a little more and told the ultrasound technician that I grew up in SD and have hiked Bear Butte as well as drove by 100’s of times and have never once seen a bear. I told her it looked like a pregnant woman laying on her back with her hands folded on her stomach. The almost exact position I was laying in, on that ultrasound exam table. She smiled and said it was not the first time she heard that.
The radiologist then numbed the armpit, which honestly hurt! It burned and I even cried out “owie.” He apologized and assured me that was the worst part. He used the ultrasound wand to find the lymph nodes and guide the needle/gun to get a good sample. I prepped myself for a painful poke when that gun popped. It was a small pop, I did not feel it and it did not hurt. I completely psyched myself out for no reason. I was, at that moment, completely relaxed. Back to myself. It was very interesting to watch him remove the samples through the ultrasound screen. He talked to me about the lymph nodes and was pretty sure it was not cancer. He mentioned more than once that cancer does not grow that fast and more than likely it was probably an infection. He took four samples. They patched me up and told me that the pathologist would call my doctor/midwife with the results by the next day.
That evening I was still nerve racked. Even though I calmed myself, I still felt a sense of worry. Because of this, I did what any normal woman would do for therapy. Food and shopping. Me and my two boys (Sinte Luta and Mato) headed to one of our favorite spots, Olive Garden. I kept trying to call my family members to see if they wanted to eat with us so I could have someone to talk to and calm down a little bit. Everyone had plans. So we ate and the boys suggested going to find baby sister an outfit. Knowing they are my off-spring, I was not surprised but I could not think of anything better to do and cheer me up. What happened next is not important but it made all my worries go away, and it was the clearance at Carter’s that made me feel better. My boys were angels at the store and helped pick out outfits, including one that said “little sister.”