Before I left my job, I made sure to take care of a few important appointments. One being my annual mammogram. I’ve been getting them since I was 35 for two reasons. Family history of breast cancer and I have dense breasts.
And that doesn’t mean they’re not very bright. It means my breast tissue has less fat and feels firmer than most breasts. Awesome in one way, as they are still managing to defy gravity. Crappy in another sense, as I will not be able to feel lumps and mammograms can be an ordeal.
Like this last one.
I go in for my mammogram. New technology. Awesome (in a can’t wait for you to squish my breasts flat as a pancake with your new toy kind of way). They can see more of the breast now and get a better image. After posing for several thousand images, I was paroled and let go. It looked like someone had ironed creases in my breasts.
Three days later, I was at work training someone on one of the reports I run, when my cell phone rang. I looked down and saw it was the hospital number. I ignore it, assuming they were calling about my results. Not two minutes later, my phone rang again. This time it was my doctors office, and I was seized by gut-wrenching panic. I was so scared and I didn’t want to get emotional in front of a co-worker, so I pretended all was well and threw my phone into my purse. With a little more force than I intended.
She however noticed I was agitated and asked me what’s wrong. When I explained, she said listen to your voice-mails and do what you need to do. I walked into an empty conference room and called them both back. They found a spot on my left breast that needs to be looked at again.
I scheduled another mammogram appointment for a few days later. However, when they call my name and walk me back, instead of being led into the usual changing rooms, I was taken to my own personal changing suite. Warning bell #1.
They lead me into a different radiology room than the last time and take a series of pictures of my left breast in various poses. Though I noticed this time around, they are more soft spoken and are treating me more like a patient than a once a year visitor. Warning bell #2.
Once again I’m sent back to my private suite, where I try and relax and stay calm. I sit with my feet up on a cushion, reading my book. I’m quite comfy. A cup of herbal tea would have completed the picture. Then the door opened up and Dr. Blanchard (radiologist) walks in but doesn’t smile.
I burst into tears.
Poor thing didn’t even get a word out before I started crying. I didn’t realize how scared I was until that moment. She was very nice, handing me tissues and calming me down. She explained I have to come back for a biopsy on my left breast. They found some calcifications that weren’t there on my last visit, a bit concentrated and they want to test them. She explained my screening today fell into a no-man’s land where they can’t tell if they are benign or malignant.
Once she explained the procedure and I got all of my questions out of the way, she sent in a nurse to schedule the procedure. I started crying again, they must be used to this because the nurse also calmed me down by asking me questions to get my mind off of the traitor Lefty.
Once I was calm, she scheduled my appointment and I left the hospital to go back to work. I was numb and scared of what my future may hold for me. I called my husband, who immediately asked if he needed to fly over to be with me. I asked him if I could sleep on it and let him know. He assured me he could be here the day before but we could talk about it that evening.
I got a hold of my good friend and told her what happened. She explained her sister has had this done twice and both times she was okay. She said I shouldn’t worry and asked if I needed to drink a bunch of wine with her (I love this friend oh so much). I said, let’s wait for the biopsy results where we can either celebrate or commiserate.
Her attitude though calmed me the most and when I spoke to my husband later that evening , I relayed what she said to me about her sister and we decided to hold off on him flying over unless I received bad news. Then he can be here to comfort me and help me with treatment options.
Yesterday was my biopsy. All in all, it was not completely unpleasant, but also not a day on a sunny Hawaiian beach either. They had me take some more pictures so they could mark the sight. Afterward the photo shoot, they led me to another room and had me lay face down on a bed with a hole in the middle of it ( I think you get the idea what goes through that hole).
After laying on the table the severity of this situation hit me, and I started crying. The nurse noticed, brought me some tissues and started asking me questions to get my mind off of what was happening. She was an angel.
They placed my breast in another mammogram like machine and take some more pictures (The trick to this whole procedure? No matter what, lay perfectly still). The doctor then administered a local anesthetic to numb the breast. Took another picture to recheck the correct sight and stuck a 9-gauge vacuum biopsy needle to remove the tissue and calcification from the biopsy sight.
After checking to make sure they had a good sample, they injected a titanium marker so when I have future mammograms, they will be able to tell that area was biopsied. After cleaning and patching me up, they asked if I wanted a massage. Oh hell yes I did.
I have to wait until Friday for the results. I’m not going to lie. I’m scared shitless I may have the big C. Though I have amazing friends around me, I have no family close by and my husband is currently living/working in Hawaii. This is quite the scary prospect to face on your own.
But face it I will, because that is what I do. I don’t hide under the covers. I face things because what else can I do?
You know….besides crawling beneath my kitchen table, nursing a bottle of wine.
FYI – if you’re over 35, go get your freaking mammogram. Yesterday.