Last month I had a physical (my bad cholesterol is a bit high, good cholesterol a bit low) and mammogram (through a federally funded program for uninsured and underinsured wormen). Mammograms have come a long way since my last one twenty years ago; it no longer hurts (it used to feel like some sort of “can I make the exposed woman scream” kind of game) and the technology is mostly digital.
Mine was scheduled for Wednesday. When I left, the technician said, “You’ll get a letter in about three days if everything is normal, otherwise we’ll call to schedule a follow up.” On my way out the door, the receptionist let me know that the order for the mammogram had never arrived from my primary care physician, but that she’d continue to follow up and give me a call if necessary so I could follow up with my doctor as well.
Thursday morning the hospital left a message on my voicemail asking me to call back. The message was from Melanie, so I googled “Pardee Hospital” and “Melanie” and “Radiology” hoping to find out who Melanie was before calling back; it had to be about the paperwork, right? Google wasn’t helpful, so I bit the bullet and called. Melanie didn’t answer, but her voicemail let me know that she was the office manager. Whew – paperwork! I left her a message and went back about my business at work.
Melanie returned my call pretty quickly and let me know that the doctor had concerns and wanted to follow up the next morning, would that be okay with me? She couldn’t/wouldn’t offer any more information, just that the tissue in my left breast wasn’t the same as in my right, and they wanted to get a new picture to check it out.
Thursday night we went to dinner with friends, which ably distracted me from my natural inclination to worry about things I can’t control or change.
Friday morning I went in on my own (I insisted); first there was another mammogram (the technician let me look at the results each time she took a picture). The focus was a pea sized “mass” (which makes it sound awful, right?) on my left breast mid-way between my nipple and my surgical scars. I mentioned my surgery and the scarring (again) as a possible explanation, and learned that scarring doesn’t look like this spot. After several pictures from different angles and different magnifications, I waited for the doctor to read the scans.
Next up: Ultrasound. Now, this is just like when you have an ultrasound when you’re pregnant, except you aren’t looking forward to it nearly so much. A bit of goop, some passes with the wand and … nothing. The technician wasn’t able to find the mass at all by ultrasound. The doctor came in and watched the tech try again and still nothing.
His assessment is that it’s nothing to worry about (not cancer), but that I should come back in 6 months for a follow up.
I’m also looking at getting a second opinion, because this seems like the sort of thing that you might as well take the time to ask another doctor about since, if the first doctor is wrong, it could be B.A.D.
In the meantime, I’ll continue my monthly self-exams (hint: if you have breasts, you should be doing this too) and put it out of my mind until I know I have something to actually worry about.
One positive to come out of this: I’m in love with strapless dresses now that I have bras that keep them properly “on”. Old Navy, look out!