Good Summer – Bad Experience

It has been over 2 months since my last post and…crap…has a lot happened. The good stuff first:

My super-awesome mother-in-law came for a visit all the way from Canada. We took her to a bunch of local tourist sites and we surprised her with a road trip to see the Rolling Stones in Stuttgart, Germany. We drove through Slovenia and Croatia along the way and saw some of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable.  From there, we all flew to Edmonton, Canada to visit family and friends, leaving Edmonton for our beloved Sarnia, Ontario on July 17. While we were thrilled to see our closest friends and our favorite city, we soon encountered some significant trouble which led to several medical appointments, the cancellation of flights, and a hasty reorganization of our schedule.

It began back in November when I noticed some changes on my  right breast. Because my mother first had cancer in her 40s, I watch my health very carefully. So, I saw an oncologist in Belgrade. After laughing at me because I am “too young to get cancer” and telling me that “even in Canada, you wouldn’t have a mammogram before 50” (I previously had 2 in Canada, as baselines, because of my family history), the doctor grudgingly sent me for an ultrasound. They identified a reactive lymph node and told me that “I must have cut myself shaving”. This, of course, was written on the report, despite my insistence that I hadn’t cut myself. Two months later, when the changes I was experiencing were getting worse, I saw another oncologist in Belgrade who told me it must be “hormones”.  A quick visit to an oncologist in Ireland and I was told to get a mammogram the moment I get to Canada.

Let me tell you something about my doctor in Sarnia. He is THE BEST.   (God bless him!) I messaged him to tell him about the changes I was experiencing and explained that I would be in Sarnia in the summer and asked if he would be willing to book me a mammogram. Not only did he take care of me from thousands of miles away, once I was in Sarnia and had the first mammogram, he was unbelievably kind and very quick to share information and book subsequent appointments.  I had my mammogram on a Thursday afternoon and by 8:00am the next morning, I was booked for an ultrasound 2 days later. An hour after my ultrasound, my doctor called me to say I needed a biopsy. Now 4 lymph nodes were reactive and one had a sizeable mass within. Of course, the worst went through our minds. We went through hell for about 2 weeks. I didn’t eat or sleep. Chris was so positive, but worried sick. We didn’t tell the girls anything because we didn’t want to scare them.  We were scheduled to leave Sarnia on July 28 but had to cancel those flights. Timing was bad. Our rent was due. Our cats were taken care of but would have needed more food and litter. Our Serbian taxes were due, and must be paid in person at the bank (of course). Some of our AMAZING expat friends who knew what was happening generously offered/insisted to take care of everything for us but I knew that there would be nothing Chris could do if he was here except worry.  He flew to Serbia on a Saturday and back to Canada the Saturday after that, then we waited together and worried together. Chris is the best. I am so lucky to have him, he makes everything better. He just does. (I think he has magic in that Ukrainian blood of his.)

I can comfortably write this today because I officially got a harmless diagnosis: fibrocystic breasts. Basically, I will get harmless cysts. While I’ve never experienced anything like this before, I will have to use extra caution not to dismiss something that could be potentially harmful as a cyst. When I picked up the pathology report at the hospital a few days ago, I understand the doctor’s concern: on a scale of 1-6 with 1 being non-cancerous and 6, where cancer is confirmed, I rated a 4.

We spent ridiculous amounts of money on flights and car rentals and everything else that was this crazy trip but everything and I mean EVERYTHING was made bearable because of our friends. Dawn and Ryan are literally walking saints. They’ve boarded us for nearly a month now. We’ve been driving their cars. They’ve taken us to appointments. They’ve taken care of our children. They’ve cooked all our meals. My nails are the longest they’ve ever been in my life because they won’t let me clean. Dawn literally picked me up off the hospital floor when I had a bad reaction to the double-dose of lidocane they gave me for my biopsy.  (And, yes, half my boob is a lovely green/yellow right now as it heals. Super sexy.) We often joke about being “Sista Moms”, not to be confused with “Sista Wives”, there is no husband sharing here, just mom duties and I couldn’t ask for a better co-mom. There simply isn’t one. We love you both infinitely.

So….we are now officially leaving Sarnia on Saturday and while I am sad to leave our friends and this hidden gem of a city, we are very excited to get back to Belgrade, cuddle our cats, and relax as a family.  Let fall and winter begin….



Author: S.L.Luck

Writer of fiction, non-fiction, and stories in between.

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