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  • Writer's pictureZoe

Zoe's Story: And Now We Pray (Week 3)

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

I am lucky to be receiving treatment at University of Miami Hospital. U Sylvester has comprehensive cancer care is multiple locations including 10 minutes from home in Deerfield Beach.

This week I am scheduled for the Biopsy.

I have to say, every single angel I speak to from this incredible team is kind beyond words. I am super impressed with the level of compassion and care I have been given thus far.

I arrived for my biopsy 30 minutes prior to the appointment. As per the confirmation text, I called the arrivals team. They checked me in over the phone and told me the moment I get the green check mark to enter the building and see the arrivals team.

As I got to the doors, I was screened for COVID-19. I was asked the normal COVID-19 questions (like the rest of my Addison team, I am tested bi-weekly); they checked my temperature, made me change my mask with one of theirs, sanitized my hands, and allowed me to enter the building. I was greeted by the arrival team and given a hospital bracelet. I was escorted to the breast unit and waited for the technologist. She gave me a white gown with the orange and green U! Seeing that logo fills me with confidence. Its weird, but company logos really do instantly define a brand. That green and orange U made me feel at ease and entirely comfortable.

University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

The technologist explained that she was going to do a sonogram, and when she has taken all the images, she would share with the doctor. Based on the results, they would decide if they wanted to biopsy all three masses and the lymph, or just one mass. Of course, the outcome was all four! …never one for half-measures.

By the end of the sonogram, because my arm had been above my head, I could neither feel nor operate my right arm. It was neither use nor ornament, and I asked for a bathroom break to restore some life.

I re-entered the room and the doctor arrived to the room. He was pleasant and explained what would happen. He would first mark the masses by locating them with the sonogram. He would mark the area and then inject the anesthesia into one area at a time. Once the area was numb, he would make a small incision, inset the biopsy needle directly into the mass (removing three samples of tissue from each mass), and end each biopsy by inserting a titanium clip. He would then repeat the procedure into every mass.

My masses are located at 7, 9, and 11 o’clock. Imagine the face of a clock and they are easy to find. He stated the last biopsy would be the lymph node in my right armpit. The doctor also let me listen to the sound the needle would make, as it extracted the samples. It makes a loud clicking sound. I knew I would need 12 of those sounds, followed by the insertion of the clips.

He asked the technologist to pass him the biopsy needles and I laughed out loud! They are enormous - way longer than a ruler.

He asked me if I was all right and I told him the last time I saw anything like that was for a epidural 25 years ago. He asked me if I was a doctor, which made me laugh even louder! …but the radiologist knew exactly what I was talking about. I, along with countless woman, have had these delightful injections when becoming mothers.

He immediately got back to work. His absolute precision was astounding. After that, followed a series of "clicks" and clips. First with biopsy one, and then with biopsy two. Man, when the needle grazed at the back of my nipple, it was nerve pain like the worst tooth ache. The lymph node was most painful. I guess, a long needle in your arm pit is never going to be fun.

After the biopsy, the doctor advised me that I needed to have a light mammogram to make sure the clips were in place. I told him there was no such thing as a light mammogram; they are equally as unpleasant. The mammogram detected all the clips and I was free to go with a bra full of ice packs. I was told to ice my breast and armpit down for six hours (20 minutes on / 20 minutes off). This would help the swelling and helps to stop blood clots.

At 6:00 pm Ronald checked in with me to see how it all went. I explained it was a long day, but all was good, and he simply stated "good and NOW WE PRAY!"

My next appointment would be with my surgeon Dr. Eli Avisar in regards to my surgery. Thereafter, I would meet with Dr. Vogel, the breast medical oncologist who prescribes inter-body therapies like chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or endocrine therapy. Dr. Avisar and Dr. Vogel will work together to establish the most suited treatment and if they think I will benefit from radiation therapy. I will also meet the radiation oncologist Dr. Freedman.

I told you... There are many layers, and one answer only brings to light more questions.

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