He missed the tumor.

I’m headed back to surgery on Monday.

I can’t believe this is happening.

I was thrilled to get the drains out yesterday. Finally, I felt almost-human again. Reflexively, my hand went to where the tumor had been. Of my body’s typography, this is a location I know intimately. Which is why I was disturbed to feel a lump. Albeit, a smaller lump (more of a button than a broach) but still very much a lump. I pointed this out to the surgeon. He said it was probably “fatty tissue.” I made him feel it. “Nothing to worry about,” he assured me. I assured him–I’m a worrier. I need to know what this thing is. He tsk-tsk’ed and sent me downstairs for an ultrasound. His nurse smiled brightly.

Slowly, things began to unravel. The ultrasound confirmed the lump was solid–a huge calcification at its core. But was it a new lump or the same lump? A biopsy was ordered. But before they could plunge a needle into my aching chest, Mary remembered the lump was tagged. During my biopsy in January, the radiologist inserted a tiny metal tag next to the mass. She explained that it acts like a beacon shining brightly on future mammograms to help techs sort new lumps from old. At the time, I felt like an animal tagged and released back into the wild, but yesterday that tag made all the difference.

Alerted to the tag, the radiologist switched course and ordered a mammogram (yup, a mammogram. don’t ask). Afterward she and I stared at the display in disbelief. There was my tumor in black-and-white. Metal tag still firmly in place. Shining brightly. Illuminating the spot where–without a shadow of a doubt–the cancer still lies.  

So many questions.

So much sorrow.

So much disbelief.

So much anger. 

Forgive me if I don’t post for awhile, but I don’t have words to describe how I’m feeling.

35 Responses

  1. Jean Thilmany says:

    I cried reading this. I don’t even know you but I kind of do of course. And I’m crying for you. I am so sorry.

  2. I’m so sorry, Catherine. This is just horrifying. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Stay strong. You’re a survivor!

    Sarah (from FLX)

  3. Can we forward this post to that doctor’s office?


    This news is beyond believeable. No words really. Just concern for you and sadness that a surgeon could be that callous, not to mention stupid.

    Sending nothing but good thoughts your way so you can find some sense in the senseless.


  4. Tim says:

    I just heard your news. If the love of your friends helps at all, know that you have lots of it, as this page attests. I’m thinking of you, pulling for you, hoping for you.

    – Tim Gower

  5. Buffy Tanner says:

    Catherine and Mary,
    So much disbelief indeed. Thank goodness that you and Mary were insistent that something was not right. What a huge disappointment not to have this part of the process over.

    Sending you positive thoughts (and sending your doctor a kick in the butt to be more careful and more sensitive to patient concerns).

  6. Debbie Johnson says:

    OH MY GOD!!!
    I am a fellow post mastectomy, boob-less 52 year old woman. It is quite hard enough to muster the mind and body to go through this journey the first time let alone a second time.
    You have proven to all of us that you have to be your own best advocate. If you think there is something wrong, damn it make your medical team follow up!!!!!
    Hang in there girl….I also hate pink!!! I shed many tears for you since I read of your ordeal.
    Good thoughts,
    Debbie (a friend and neighbor of Roxanne’s)

  7. Mary says:

    Catherine and Mary

    I am sitting here in Vancouver, thinking of you both. And I am in shock. I just can’t believe what I have just read. I don’t get it. I thought the whole point of the tag, which in my own case, I seriously resisted at the time of the biopsy, was to make “the cut” so that it encompassed the mass and would leave clear margins.
    I am sorry for what you have to go through. It’s beyond incoherent.

  8. Janine Adams says:

    Catherine, this news is so shocking. I’m keeping you in my thoughts. Your eloquence in the face of your situation is breathtaking. I’ll be on the look out for updates.

    Janine (from FLX)

  9. Marissa Schaeuble says:

    Catherine and Mary, You are loved by so many people and are in my thoughts and prayers everyday. I pray for each of you to have strength and compassion to endure this next surgery. Remember you have so many people just waiting to help out in whatever way we can.

  10. Catherine:

    I can’t even find words. I can’t imagine your anguish right now. You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I have no doubt you will beat this thing and I pray this doctor’s ineptness does not in anyway deter your fighting spirit. Please let us know if there’s anything that any of us can do to ease your burden right now. (If you feel up to sending your address along to anybody on FLX, we would love to have it so that we can continue to send our support to you).