I’m Kara Ward. I’m 30 years old, have a wonderful, loving family, a fantastic boyfriend, a beautiful home, two crazy dogs…oh, and cancer. It sucks, know. It hit me like a ton of bricks too, but a few weeks in and I’m starting to get used to it.
My story starts early in 2012. I found a spot, a lump, something. Whatever you want to call it, it was weird and it didn’t belong. I’m not going to lie, I sat on it. I waited around and pretended like it wasn’t happening. I’m too young and it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t until a drunken night sitting in the local dive that I broke down and told my personal nurse, cousin, and best friend Natalie that I had a “thing”. Her vodka fueled rage was intense, enough for me to make the first move and get it checked out. An inconclusive ultra-sound and a chance trip to OSU later, I had a confirmed benign fibroadenoma removed on June 4, 2012.
Thanksgiving 2012, it’s back. Wait, it’s not back. It’s a new lump; another thing. I remembered the conversation from my last follow up at OSU. Once a fibro, always a fibro. These are going to come back. I calmed my nerves and worked through it. It’s just a lump, get over it. I’m too busy to be running to the doctor. I told myself just get through the insanity at work and make it through the holidays, then maybe make the call and get it checked out. In actuality I thought it would just go away. Out of sight, out of mind.
It’s time for another breakdown, this time to my mom. She insists that I make the call. I called the next day. Doc says it’s probably nothing but let’s get it checked out just in case. By chance they have a cancellation tomorrow, can I be there? No, but yes and off to Columbus I go. Friday, January 10, 2013: the quick appointment that turns into a nightmare. So the doc needs an ultra-sound to confirm that it’s just another fibroadenoma. Insurance says that now that I have hit the big 3-0, mammogram is required. Six months ago they won’t pay for it and now I can’t get out of the exam room without having the test. Mammogram is inconclusive. They need another image. So I went with the flow and all of a sudden I have two radiologsists, two different mammograms, and ultra-sound and I have to go back upstairs to see the surgeon. WTF, right? So the doc tells me we need to do a biopsy. I immediately start to negotiate. Ok, here’s my schedule can we work around it? Nope, it’s happening now. Her exact words were “You aren’t leaving here without having this done.” Shit. So away I go to be poked and prodded.
I have to tell you, those jerks are lying when they say biopsies aren’t that bad. It’s awkward, it hurts, and I had a two hour drive home with ice packs stuffed in my bra. And worse than that, after having a giant staple gun jammed into my tits, I had to go back in for another mammogram! After 6 straight hours of testing, being totally scared out of my mind and generally annoyed at everyone who asked me “how’s your day”, I managed to pass out in the radiology department. They obviously did not know what kind of drama queen they were working with.
Three days later, off to Las Vegas I go. It’s fine. They will just call me with results. There is no reason that I need to stop working my tail off just because of a little biopsy. Do you know what sucks worse than getting black out drunk and losing all your money in Vegas? I do, it’s getting the call from your doctor telling you it’s cancer. It was 9am, Tuesday January 14. I was less than two minutes from leaving the room to hit the convention floor. The phone rings and there’s a gentle voice on the other line saying “I’m sorry. It’s cancer.”
So that’s where my story begins.