Breast Cancer Diagnosis: The Journey Commences

Receiving results indicating that breast cancer is almost certain according to digital mammography and ultrasound left me with not much hope to hold on to. The best you can do at a time like this is pray while bracing yourself. Sure, I prayed that I would still be spared but my prayers had been more on asking for strength to handle what’s ahead. Family and friends, of course, insisted on clinging to that sliver of hope that the lump would be benign. I appreciated that. As much as I would love to maintain a positive outlook, however, I had to manage my expectations and prepare for the worst.

It didn’t help that since this happened just before the holidays, securing an appointment with the breast surgeon that my OB-GYN endorsed was a real struggle. In my desperation, I already reached that point where I was willing to see any surgeon just so I could have the biopsy done the soonest possible time. This desperate move didn’t work out so well as I couldn’t even get through the trunk line or whatever is publicly listed for their clinics. Despite all that frustration, I still take this as a blessing in disguise, after all. Back then, I had no idea how crucial that was. For some people, who you saw first can be a defining moment in your journey—a surgeon, oncologist surgeon, or medical oncologist. This is something I’ll take up in a future post and hope that it would help others.

Relatives also started recommending doctors until I finally managed to secure an appointment with an oncologist surgeon for January. It was still about a month-long wait, but I remained grateful that things are finally looking better. Glass half-filled and all that. With each day that I couldn’t find a doctor to see me, it felt like there was a dark cloud looming overhead as the clock ticks loudly in the background. Knowing that there was finally progress, no matter how small, was something I held on to because it would have been so easy to just give in and fall into depression with the difficulties I faced at the time. I was still living alone in my condo then so I couldn’t allow myself to succumb to despondency. I believe delving into Reiki at this time helped me maintain a favorable disposition. I wanted to push and move things along but all I could do was wait helplessly as time dragged on and be okay with that. 

Biopsy and Diagnosis

I welcomed 2021 with a doctor’s appointment by early January and was finally scheduled for ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy by mid-month. A week later, it was confirmed. The histopathologic diagnosis was Invasive Breast Carcinoma with Lobular Features, Nuclear Grade 1. Contrary to what I expected, however, the oncologist surgeon recommended undergoing chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor before surgery. This, I later found out, is called neoadjuvant therapy, usually in the form of chemotherapy. Turns out that this treatment allows for lumpectomy or breast-conservation by surgical removal of a portion of the breast where the tumor is located instead of mastectomy, which is the removal of the entire breast. My aunt had lumpectomy, whereas; another aunt (mom’s cousin) had mastectomy before chemotherapy and radiation. I, on the other hand, am the first in our family to undergo neoadjuvant therapy and hoping for lumpectomy after completing my chemo cycles. 

Pre-treatment Tests

Before we start my treatment, however, several tests were needed to move forward. In digging deeper, I found out that these tests would determine the kind of chemotherapy my case would require; see if metastasis already occurred in other areas; and how fit I am to handle the treatment. All these will influence the treatment protocol for me. I’ll discuss these more in detail in another blog post, so please stay tuned for that. Once I’ve completed these tests and blood work, that would be the time to schedule my next doctor’s appointment. 

I had a friend with me when I saw my oncologist surgeon to read the histopathologic diagnosis of the biopsy she performed. As suggested by the doctor, we dropped by the different departments in the hospital to arrange the schedule for the major tests while I planned on having the blood work and other tests at a diagnostic center near my condo so it would be more convenient. Due to the ongoing pandemic, schedules for the tests were far in between and spanned to almost a month. Once again, I fought hard to keep anxiety at bay with the idea that even more time would be wasted before I could really start my treatment. The thought of cancer cells traversing throughout my system freely with each passing day can be quite unsettling. 

Major Adjustments

Life, as I knew it, was about to change. Big time. With the diagnosis out, my family insisted that I can no longer continue living alone, especially once my treatment starts. I just had a major move from Makati to Quezon City but it was apparent that I must leave the city and relocate to Laguna. Plans had to be re-evaluated and adjusted accordingly. I was supposed to start with a clean slate after leaving the corporate world, but I was being steered toward a different path altogether. After more than a decade of being on my own, I was coming back to my mom’s hometown and moving in with my sister-in-law and her family. It was uncertain how I would react to treatment so there’s no way I can carry on living independently. As much as I valued and fiercely guarded my independence, I needed to learn how to depend on others again. Moreover, I had to switch to another doctor, a Laguna-based medical oncologist, as referred by my mom’s cousin.

I had a couple of teleconsult sessions with my new oncologist before the big move. Fortunately, she knows my previous doctor and agreed with the suggested neoadjuvant treatment. She just expanded the required laboratory tests a bit and asked me to get back to her once I’ve completed everything. Going with what my aunts recommended, I decided to keep the schedules I already arranged for the tests in the metro while packing for my move to Laguna. Moving day depended on when I would complete the series of test and receive all the results.  

Finding Support

At this point, I realized that I was just going through the motions, taking the tests by just following doctor’s orders like a good girl. Everything seemed surreal at first as I was trying to wrap my head around the whole idea. Of course, I cried buckets. I lamented the dreams of a new life I was mapping out. What I’m quite proud of, however, is that I never questioned God about this. I never asked, “Why me?” because it was never a complete surprise since this illness exists in my mother’s side of the family. Then there’s how I ignored those breast cancer symptoms until I can no longer look the other way, and I was never into living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve never been the kind who would whine too much when things are difficult, and I wasn’t about to start. Instead, I decided to don my big girl panties and deal with it.  

It didn’t take long for my true nature to kick in and I want to know more about what I’m actually dealing with. This is not a drill anymore. It was like there’s so much to learn, and I didn’t know where to start. I, however, were mentally shying from hardcore medical stuff, so I decided I should just take them in manageable doses. Looking for a group of people going through the same ordeal would be a good starting point not only to understand more about breast cancer but to find support as well. I turned to Facebook, found, and joined Breast cancer WARRIORS and has since learned a lot of things--what others are going through, what may be considered normal reaction, similar reactions, struggles, and what not. The group also has a few members who are doctors who provide valuable information and advice when they can to help members. I thought of joining other groups before but so far, this group already meets my needs for support so I’m happy just to stick to it for now. Perhaps I’ll expound more on this topic in another post as it definitely needs space to explore the merits of having the right support as you fight this battle. 

This was when things were gradually starting to get real for me and how everything seemed as I took the early steps on this odyssey. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost here, and I hope I am able to contribute somehow by sharing this to offer some light to those who are looking for answers or provide comfort to those who are already on a similar path. 

Please stay tuned as I share more about my journey and explore life. Kindly follow my blog (see left side panel) so you'll be updated when I have a new post (hopefully, real soon).

Share your insights or ask questions you might have in the Comments Section, and I’ll reply as best as I can. 

Stay safe, everyone!


  1. You are healed in Jesus' Name. Take care. Thanks for sharing your journey


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