Just the facts

Okay, this is one of those stories I don’t love to tell, so let me get it down once and for all.


On about September 27, I learned I was eligible for promotion to professor this year. With a little bit of negotiation (really, the head of the committee was quite generous in when my materials were due), I got a due date of October 18 for my packet.

Six days later (October 3), I found a lump in my left breast. It was quite large, but not real obvious. I had in insect bite on that breast and only noticed the lump when I went to lift the breast to see the bite.

I called my doctor the next morning and got an appointment to see him Tuesday October 11.

In the mean time, I’m working on gathering material for a promotion dossier and, oh yeah, this programming contest thing. I’m chief judge of the ACM SE USA Programming Contest, this year on October 15. Normally I work 20-40 hours a week on the contest for the weeks leading up to the contest, but had a few distractions this year.

The October 11 appointment goes very quickly once I see Dr. Burtner,
who takes an unusually long time to see me. It’s a lump and it needs to be examined further. He makes an appointment to see Dr. Conforti at The Breast Center, Thursday October 13.

Things happen fast at The Breast Center. I have a mammogram that doesn’t look good, then have an ultrasound that doesn’t look good, then see the doctor who looks good (hey, it’s parallel!). (But he did have a nice use of machine embroidery on his lab coat.)

Ultimately, Dr. Schwartz, the radiologist, takes a needle biopsy, warns me of all the after-effects, packs my bra full of ice and sends me on my way. I don’t think he thought “on my way” would be 240 miles to Gainesville, FL, where I meet up with Charlie on our way to the programming contest in Melbourne, FL.

Stresses from my life go away. (For most of this time period I’m getting about 4 hours of sleep a night.) The contest goes well (thanks to a great bunch of judges!) and I turn in my promotion dossier at 12:30, Tuesday October 18. Charlie and I then return to Dr. Conforti for the biopsy results at 1:45 that day. (We did get a nice lunch at Bert’s in between.)

They’re not good.

Ductal carcinoma in situ, high grade, predominately solid pattern, with small foci of invasive ductal carcinoma; foci suspicious for lymphomvascular invasion.

Worse, they’re not complete, so there’s lots of unknowns and there’s no clear next step.

So, the next step is to see Dr. Burns, the medical oncologist Friday at 11:45.

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