Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My First Mammogram - I should've gotten a cake...

Last February (2012), at my annual gynecologist appointment, Dr. B offhandedly mentioned that she wanted to schedule a mammogram for me next year.  I missed my February 2013 appointment, but was able to get an appointment in September. I’d been having other girl issues too, but that’s another post.

Dr. B got me set up with referrals for dermatology (another post), a repeat bone scan (to check the progress of my osteopenia), and a mammogram.

My breasts are large as you’ve seen in photos, and very dense. Dense breasts make it much harder to feel or see problems and those women with dense breasts are six times more likely to get a breast cancer than our tiny-boob friends. The plan was to get a “baseline” mammogram so that we’ll have something to compare to as I get older.

Tuesday morning, I headed to Shands UF at Springhill.  About halfway there, I realized that “OMG, I’m getting a mammogram!” which turned into “OMG, what if they find something????” I tried to push the thoughts away, but they stayed in the back of my mind the entire time.

So, for those of you who have never had one done, or have one coming up and you are worried or curious about what happens – here is what happened:

I signed in – the receptionist was very friendly – and filled out a quick Family History form. 

You may not know you have cancer when you go IN, but you know if you do when you come OUT
After about 5 minutes, I was called back to a change room, where I was told to strip from the waist up and put on one of those super-comfy hospital gowns.  Once changed, I put my clothes and belongings into a locker, locked it and kept the key. Then I had a seat in the interior waiting room. 

Mammogram Selfie! 
Quickly, I was called back and a tech took me into a Mammogram room. I sat down and she reviewed my family history then had me come to the machine.

She took my left breast and put it on the plate very gently, moving it until it was lined up in just the right way. Then the top plate came down, sandwiching my breast between the top and bottom plate. I won’t lie – it wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t painful either.  I think it pressed for about 10 seconds, and I had to hold my breath, before it released and I could step back. We repeated with the right side.

After the two horizontal (sandwich) scans, she rotated the plates so that she could do vertical (bookend) scans.  Again with the squishing and breath-holding. These were less uncomfortable than the horizontal ones, but not by much.

Finally, she said that she wanted a “Cleopatra” scan, kind of a lopsided angle view of my left breast.  It’s hard to explain how I stood in relation to the machine; it was kind of from up under my armpit.

Anyway, once I was done the tech said that she was 99% sure that I’d be getting a call back, but not to worry too much. I asked if I could see the scans, and she showed me that I had a lot of spots that she assumed were cysts, because the edges were smooth and the spots were round.  Again, she said that that radiologist would want a closer look and to not worry. Cysts are normal.

I was taken back to the lockers and allowed to change and leave. I didn’t have to formally check out or pay a co-pay (thanks, Blue Cross!), and I headed upstairs for my bone scan.

So that’s it – that is what happened with my first mammogram!

By the time I finished my scan, picked up lunch at Sonic and got back to mty office, there was an email waiting from Dr. B. She stated that she saw my scans and wanted to schedule an ultrasound. She thought that maybe “all the moles” were affecting the scans.

Within an hour of that email, I got a call from Shands to schedule that ultrasound. Since I already had a Dermatology appointment for the 28th, I scheduled the mammogram and ultrasound for the same day.

So, next week, I go back to get (hopefully) good news.

When I got home, I told Hubby and the Kiddo what happened, but didn’t tell them that I was already starting to worry.

On Saturday (the 19th), I got a follow up letter in the mail saying that there was an area that needed “further evaluation”.

dun Dun DUN
That phrase really threw me. It seemed different than “To be safe…” or “To be sure…” NEEDS more evaluation. Like, they think there IS something there. 

I started thinking about what would happen to me when I found out that I have cancer, as in a Pro and Con list.

Pro – I’ll lose weight.                                                     
Con – I’ll be sick a lot and puke.
Pro – When my hair comes back, I can have short hair!    
Con – Cancer costs a lot.
Pro – I can have small boobies.                                      
Con – No energy to run or do WDW.

I let those ideas roll around for a while, then pushed them away. I’m fine and this is such a non-issue that there is no reason to freak out.

On Sunday, while chilling on the couch, I came across this bit of info:  Not only do we Dense Gals have 6x the chance to get cancer, but the doctors and scientists don’t know WHY.  Also, because of the denseness, mammograms only detect HALF of the cancers because the mammograms are harder to read.

So, I have SOMETHING going on in there, they want to do an ultrasound and because of these Dense Gals, there is 6x the chance that it could be cancerous.

No worries? Are you kidding?

So, as of the day I write this, I have one more week to try to think positively. The more I think about it, the harder it is to stay positive. All I can do over the next week is live my life as I always have and let it happen.  On Wednesday morning (or whenever I get results) – I’ll re-evaluate then.

Between now and then, I’m gonna do my job at work, then run a 10k, go to Disney and have a great dinner at Epcot on Saturday!

Next week is a long time away.