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The latest in Regge's series of Endless Mountains ghost stories is available on Amazon:

The Boy in the Toy Room: An Endless Mountains Ghost Story

Nora is haunted. She's haunted by the past, haunted by the future, and haunted by the boy in the toy room. Wanting desperately to fall back in love with her husband, Nora moves back to the country to work on building their dream home. Building dreams isn't easy, though: she'll have to fend off a drunken ex, contend with an interfering mother-in-law, and try to keep a battered rental house from falling down around her.

Meanwhile, someone has been breaking into the house, and her daughter's imaginary friend, the boy in the toy room, seems to be trying to burn the place down. While the men around her rage and bluster, it's Nora's job to hold things together and keep her daughter safe, whatever the cost. 

 

And don't forget Waking Up Dead: An Endless Mountains Ghost Story

If Deidra Shay had known she was dead, she might have made other choices -- but she didn't. When her best friend, Jesse, finds her body and is pulled away screaming and crying, Deidra follows her home and all hell breaks loose! Friends and family are pulled into a maze of love and sex, revenge and redemption as Jesse and Deidra struggle to figure out how to go on living after waking up dead. 

This is romance, a testimony to friendship, and one answer to what life might be like beyond the grave for both the person moving on and the people left behind.

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Thursday
Aug102017

THE SURGEON AND BIOPSY

The Breast Cancer Experience 2

Regge Episale

 

            Mike went with me to my first appointment. I’m glad he did. There was a lot to talk about and a second person is good. Two heads are better than one. The Breast Center in Scranton is easy to find. Go across the bridge and turn right on Penn Ave. Parking in Scranton is annoying, just like in Harrisburg, but there were plenty of spaces. It costs twenty-five cents for ten minutes, and I’ve never been there less than two hours, so bring lots of quarters if you ever have to visit.

            The waiting room is clean, bright, and well decorated. There are magazines, toys (although I’ve never seen children there) and a TV. Everyone is friendly and upbeat. I handed the receptionist my medical reports and disk, and she handed me a stack of papers to complete: medical history, family history, personal history, etc. I guess it’s good I had a long wait because there was a lot to fill out. Finally a nurse called me in for the basic things: blood pressure, temperature, weight. She apologized for the wait and said that Dr. Kelley is often late but that is a good thing since she always gives each patient as much time as they need. “Her patients love her. They feel she’s worth the wait.” Truthfully, I didn’t mind. The entire atmosphere was comfortable and every person who dealt with me gave me their full attention.

            Dr. Kelley herself was sixty-two years old, upbeat, warm, smart, attractive and relaxed. She teaches surgery at the new medical school in Scranton and has spent her entire career working with breast cancer. Her credentials are impeccable. She reviewed my medical history and was impressed with the long list of cancers in my family. I didn’t have information about my father’s family, and since then I’ve learned that cousins on that side have a history of breast cancer but even without that information, there was plenty to discuss. Dr. Kelley never talks down to people, does talk about the evolution of the study of breast cancer and all of the time is checking, looking, and sharing information.  

            She explained that she didn’t feel I needed a bilateral 3D mammogram because the ultrasound and MRI provided by Endless Mountains Health Systems were excellent and I have a breast density of II. On a scale of I through IV, with IV being very dense and hard to see through, mine are fairly transparent. (That’s information provided in your mammogram report and you should ask your doctor about it. It’s important. Dense breasts can hide things.)

            At the end of the exam she told me the next step was a biopsy. My heart sank. I expected to be sent somewhere else and given another appointment, and that wasn’t the direct route I had in mind. “I’d do it right now if I could,” I told her. “How long before it can be done?”

            She looked surprised and happy. “I can do it right now if you are willing.”

            “Here?”

            “Yes.”

            I was thrilled. She then told me that when she offers to do the biopsy immediately, many women say no, they aren’t ready, make another appointment for a week away, and run. I, on the other hand, just wanted to move forward. Cancer is cancer, time is of the essence, and the sooner things got moving, the better.  

            I was taken into a small operating room where I disrobed. Mike didn’t feel that he needed to be with me, and the doctor said there wasn’t room for him anyway, which was true. There was a sink, a cupboard, an ultra sound machine, an operating table, and just enough room for the doctor and technician to stand, one on each side of me.

            When the nurse tried to get the tumor on the ultra sound machine, she couldn’t find it and had to ask me where it was. That made two technicians who had trouble locating the lump and I felt better about not recognizing it sooner myself. It was far back under the arm, really in the location of the lymph nodes.

            I had heard stories about the pain of biopsies and had had a kidney biopsy in the past that really hurt, so was prepared for an unpleasant experience. I was right and wrong about that. Doctor Kelley used some kind of pain killer to deaden the area, and that worked fairly well although it didn’t deaden the discomfort completely. Dr. Kelley warned me that the needle sounded like a drill and some patients thought it must be old fashioned but it’s not.

            They turned the ultra sound screen toward me so the doctor and I could both see it. It was fascinating. I saw the tumor and saw the biopsy needle go in. It’s hard to explain it exactly. The biopsy needle isn’t thin like a needle you get a shot with. It is larger so it can collect tissue samples. The doctor had to push a little and on the ultra sound I could see my tissue resist before the needle got through. It didn’t feel good, but it wasn’t really bad. There was a whirring sound, more like a dentist drill maybe or a small compressor, and I could see a small vertical line twist as the suction picked up a piece of the tumor. She took nine samples. We’re talking about nine samples of a 12 mm area. It was hard to believe there could be anything left. I joked with her that the tumor was so small, she might as well remove the whole thing while she was in there. She laughed but said that no, she wasn’t allowed to do that.

            When Dr. Kelley withdrew the needle, she said, “Yep, this looks like cancer tissue. We’ll wait for the report, but that’s what it looks like.” I wanted to see the sample, see what a cancer tissue looked like, but she covered it and handed it to the technician. I guess some people get squeamish. I would like to have seen it.

            A bandage was applied and I was told not to stress the site, not to use my arm for heavy lifting or moving, and then was given a detailed list of instructions. The nurse and doctor joked with Mike about sweeping and mopping, and how to do it. A return appointment was set for a week later at 4:15 p.m. so we would be the last appointment of the day. Dr. Kelley explained that if the results were positive, she wanted us to have all the time we needed to ask questions and get an idea of what to expect. “Bring your cooler of beer, a bottle of wine,” she joked. “You might want to stay awhile.” She then walked us out, chatting as if we were old friends. She has a knack for that.

            It was time to wait.

            I was surprised on the ride home to realize I felt drained and tired. Sometimes I have a strong blocking mechanism that fails to let my emotions register. I guess that was one of those times.

            I can’t remember how many days it took to get the results. I remember getting a call from Dr. Kelley’s office, or maybe I had to call them. I do remember them asking how I was feeling after the biopsy. They then asked me if someone was with me, and if I had a place to sit down. I laughed. “I don’t need someone with me, and I am sitting. It’s positive, right? You can tell me.”

            “Yes. Dr. Kelley will go over it with you at your appointment. Are you sure you’re alright? Do you have any questions for me?” I didn’t. “I’m so sorry, but you’re in good hands.”

            I wasn’t upset or alarmed. I felt like I’d known the results for weeks. I just wanted to get the tumor out. I was glad when the dressing came off of the biopsy site. The tape left an ugly red scar that doctors mistook for the surgical site later on. I wonder if that scar is going to last longer than my scar from the other, deeper incision. 

 

 

 

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