Thursday, June 15, 2006

Boob Job

Well, I had my second mammogram. About ten of them, in fact. The diagonal shots where they really torque you into position, then slam the machine down on you like a pannini press. And I am feeling it. (Go ahead and make the wringer joke.)

Here's the story: One of the original mammograms showed a light splotch, an area of extra density, in my right breast. My doctor suspected that it might simply be due to an accidental creasing of tissue during the mammogram process, but wanted to double-check...hence the multiple re-takings of this particular shot. And the mammographer couldn't replicate the spot. "That's a good thing," she noted, showing me the clean films.

Having worked myself into a frenzy of fear and self-recrimination in the hours previous -- thinking about an aunt of mine who died of metastasized breast cancer, slowly and painfully, and reciting a litany of regret: I should have been more careful and consistent in self-examination; I should have lost more weight; I should have exercised more; I eat too much soyfood; I don't eat enough soyfood; it was the birth control pills I've had to take over the years for my GYN problems -- seeing the films was a tremendous relief.

I need to hear the final word from my doctor, of course; but obviously my frame of mind has changed considerably over the last 24 hours. It made the other two events in my week's trifecta of fun -- our annual assessment at work, when the stress level in my office shoots up to stratospheric levels as auditors from the next layer of our bureaucracy go picking through all our files and records, and a letter from the local court demanding that I sign up for jury duty -- fall into perspective. My good pal, who stayed with me Wednesday when I imploded into a frightened, angry puddle and then came with me to the radiologist's, took me out to dinner last night -- Buffalo Wild Wings, which for the uninitiated among you is a noisy and seriously unserious franchise sports bar, normally not our natural entertainment habitat but just the antidote for two days of major Sturm und Drang. (And I was chipper enough to down several mango-habenero chicken wings...not for the weak of heart or palate. The burn kind of made the other pain go away, for awhile.)

But, seriously (once again): All the emotional turmoil and physical discomfort of this process has been worth it in terms of making sure that I am healthy. I can't say this strongly enough to other women reading this: Take care of yourself; get those mammograms and annual exams. Single women with no kids have a statistical tendency to ignore their women's healthcare, and this isn't a good thing. And there are programs to help women with limited incomes obtain access to these services. So just do it. I'm glad I did, despite everything.

Thanks to all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. They meant, and mean, a lot. But...hug carefully on my right side. Ow.


P.S. (an after-thought) said...

Hooray for the outcome but not for the proceedure. D___ the waiting for the official report. I'm currently waiting for the results of a CT scan I had last Friday. I don't expect a bad result, but I do expect faster results given back to me. Last year I had to wait a month before my doctor told me that it probably wasn't cancer, but have the test again in a year. You'd think someone there would understand that this waiting is hard.

Quotidian Grace said...

As we say down here: Thank you, Jesus! It's too bad they didn't give you some reassurance before the second mamo, though.

Kathryn said...

So glad things feel of those times when the Atlantic felt very chilly and way too wide! Though perhaps long-distance hugs are the most comfortable for you for a day or two ;-)x

LutheranChik said...

P.S. and QG: Yes, the communication in these processes leaves something to be desired...I think partly because the people assigned to do the calling aren't empowered to give complete information. It's frustrating. Of course, I remember when, if your findings were unremarkable for these annual events, you wouldn't get even a callback; you just had to assume that if you didn't hear from the doctor's office everything was fine. And I didn't like that very much.

Kathryn: Thank you! (From a distance.)

My second mammographer was very nice; she kept apologizing -- "I'm sorry!...I'm sorry!..." -- throughout the process.

Rainbow Pastor said...

LC--What a relief!

In my experience (having gone from "something is odd" to "we want to do a biopsy" to "the path report is clear"), there's nothing like communication.

Consider yourself hugged (carefully) from the southern side of the Canadian border...

Mata H said...

Congrats on the health of your breasts
I'm so glad they passed all the tests.
Mammograms are not so amusing
When ones tits they are squishing and bruising
But better a bruise
Than some other bad news
Tho the tension, I'm sure, caused sleep-losing.

Sorry for the silliness..good news makes me giddy. Serious sighs of relief ascend with prayers of thanks.

Verdugo said...


(a lopsided hug)

So very, very glad.

zorra said...

YEA!!!!!!! What a wonderful relief.

Through various and multiple radiological procedures over the years, I've realized that the radiology techs aren't authorized to say ANYTHING about what they see or don't see. So it's pretty scary when they just get kinda quiet, and it's also frustrating when you can get no information. I'm so glad this turned out fine.

Songbird said...

I'm glad to hear it went well, if painfully. I was in much the same situation last May, with questions arising from a CT that had nothing to do with breast health leading to a diagnostic mammogram with the diagonal squeezing. No fun. And awfully scary until I knew it was an anomaly that is unusual but not unheard of. It's so good you had a friend to be with you and to go out after it was over. I hope you took some ibuprofen!!

SingingOwl said...

I went through this too, and a subsequent biopsy.

Here is a gentle, one sided hug.


J.C. Fisher said...

What everyone else has said, LC. Thank God. :-)

(When's my next mammo? November: yeah, that's it...)

[Hey, LC, didja hear what we 'Piskies did? We went and elected a woman to be our Head-Honcho "Presiding Bishop"! Pretty kewl, eh? God bless +Katherine Jefferts Schori! :-D]