I love my OBGYN. He was the brave soul who called me about 15 minutes after I left the mammography center to tell me what the radiologist thought.
“I don’t know how much they told you, and I’m sorry if I’m being too blunt, but what you do from here on out will dramatically impact your ultimate outcome, so I’m going to be very direct. The radiologist believes you have breast cancer.”
I sat down really hard in a chair, grabbed a pen and paper and started writing down everything he said. I suddenly grew very cold and felt my body shivering. It was hard to talk because my voice was stuck in my throat. I felt like I was watching what was happening, and experiencing it, all at the same time. It was a strange out of body sensation.
I certainly didn’t know any breast cancer surgeons. In fact, I didn’t even know about the distinction between a breast cancer surgeon, an oncologist and a radiologist. I was grateful that my OBGYN gave me the names of the two best and most respected breast cancer surgeons in New Jersey and quickly decided to go with the one who was in my healthcare network.
The roller coaster ride of a breast cancer diagnosis had begun and I realized I would need to rely on the medical experts that I already knew, to help me find the doctors I was going to soon need. I also used this lesson when I needed to determine my oncologist and then later, my reconstructive plastic surgeon. Relying on doctors and nurses I trusted was very helpful for me as I had to make tough choices about who I was going to trust with these important surgical procedures.
Side tip: If you find a good doctor referral who’s in your healthcare plan network, consider going to them, as the cost of this stuff is crazy astronomically high. My total costs of treatments including chemo, surgeries, and reconstruction were well over $225,000. Thank God for health insurance.
Back when I was a marketing director at Johnson & Johnson, I used to work on their cause-related marketing campaign with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. I would give impassioned speeches to J&J senior management teams about how important early detection was, and how 1 in 8 of the women in the room would someday have breast cancer, as I tried to drum up corporate money to help pay for the sponsorship fee.
As I sat there taking notes while my OBGYN told me who to contact, and what to do next, my mind literally stopped for a second and I very clearly had the thought,
“Holy shit, I was the 1 in 8 at all those meetings.”