I had my first mammogram on the 16th of last month. My doctor had recommended that I get a baseline at 35. An appointment was made and I went in on a Saturday morning. I wore my gown, stood still and held my breath when directed to.
Six days later on a Friday I received a phone call. A nurse told me that I needed to come back since things were not clear. It was 4 o’clock when they called me and radiology is shut at 4 and doesn’t open until 8 on a Monday. I spent the weekend trying not to panic.
When Monday finally came I dialed Radiology as soon as the clock struck 8. I gave the woman my information, such as m name and medical record number. She instantly said, “Oh yes, right breast. You’ll need an ultrasound and mammogram.”
The nurse who had called me prior had no mention that there was something found on my right breast. As always, the information is with the servants. The first available appointment they could get me was Thursday at 1:35.
My mother and father had planned a cruise, they had never ever been on one. The tickets came a week after she was diagnosed with cancer and they had to send them back. Anonymous and I are planning a family trip. I was thinking of this, of how the past echoes in the present.
The department was backed up so I didn’t get called back until 2:10. I walked into a ultrasound room and saw the mammogram of my right breast with a circle around an area. As I was going towards the bed my phone rang I looked at the caller ID, it was my Dad. I quickly rejected the call and silenced my phone. The sonographer began the exam, moving the transducer and clicking away on the keyboard. She then stood up and announced she needed the doctor and scurried out of the room. Call it cliche but that is never a good sign.
The doctor then came in and told me they had found a 1cm mass. It had been visible on the first mammogram and it had been found with the ultrasound. Now the question was, what was it? I was told that I needed a diagnostic mammogram. It would be done today and the results given to me immediately. I went back to the waiting/holding area where other women were either sighing heavily in anticipation of their exams or grimacing because they had just endured a biopsy.
I was called back to another exam room. I was warned that the diagnostic mammogram would hurt more and it did. Nonetheless, I wanted it done.
Then I was sent back to the waiting/holding area. I compare the waiting/holding area to purgatory. There was nothing I could do until I had an answer. If it was cancer then we can go forward with treatment. It if was benign we can go forward with more surveillance. However, I had no clue as to what I had so I couldn’t move forward with any plans.
The answer finally came, Fibroadenoma, non-cancerous. I will go back in six-months for another ultrasound and diagnostic mammogram to see if the mass has grown. If it has, then it will be removed. If it stays the same I will go back in another six-months for another round of scans. Then it will be a year.
I know I will have surveillance for the rest of my life and I’m fine with that. What I am not ok with is the smiley face ingratiating way breast cancer awareness is portrayed. I hate the facebook shit of posting some god-awful enigmatic status update as cancer awareness. Whenever I get the invitation to participate in this cryptic nonsense I always post, “Get a mammogram”. People are aware of cancer, awareness is one of these hijacked words. Smokers are aware that smoking causes cancer. What should be posted is almost a polite bullying. You need your friends and loved ones to make you go. Nobody really wants to go to the doctor. Yet no one really wants to die either.