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A Story with a Moral

5 November 2008

I planned to revisit the comments from my mammogram post, because some of you surprised me with your vehement avoidance of this check-up. But then the weekend got in the way, and then the election excitement, so I figured it would stay on the back burner for a while. That was fine — I would save it for a dry NaBloPoMo day.

Clearly, it didn’t want to remain on the back burner for long: Yesterday morning I received a call from the doctor’s office. They wanted to take a few more pictures of my left side; it seemed that there was some suspicious opacity that they wanted to review.


I made an appointment at the farther office of this radiology practice, because they had an opening for this morning, and because this wasn’t a worry I wanted to live with for very long!

The tech took four more shots, of the left side. She apologized for having to “squeeze” me, but just like the first time, it really wasn’t a problem. I went to the waiting room to, you know, wait while the doctor reviewed the films.

That’s where I listened to the Bush speech. (And a pretty good one it was, don’t you think?)

When the tech returned, instead of telling me I was all done, as she had for another woman in there before me, she said, “The doctor wants more images.”

This is it, I figured. There’s something there. My inner self mused that finding something now was better than finding it later, and that since it’s so hard to see it must be pretty small, so that’s good, right? My other inner self (because I have at least two in there) couldn’t help herself and responded that no matter how good it was that they were finding something now, I still would have cancer in me at the very young age of 40, so my body would be fighting recurrence for decades! And I’d be at risk. And if you give cancer enough years, it’ll show up again.

As we returned to the machine room, my first inner self shut the other one up, hissing that with cancer, you had to stay positive — no negative thoughts allowed! The power of mind over body is great.

This time — this time, the squeezing was intense. I crossed my eyes at one point, and the tech noticed, but I told her not to mind. I could handle it.

More waiting, then the tech returned and motioned for me to follow her down the hall. Everything was OK, she said. I just have dense tissue on the left side. Now that they knew, they’d be better prepared next time. See you in a year!


People, listen: The 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer found during the localized state (still confined to the primary site; the majority of breast cancer diagnoses occur while it is still localized) is 98%. Ninety-eight percent! Isn’t that worth experiencing discomfort for 15 minutes (max!) a year?

If you have a bad experience, find another radiology office and let them know of your bad experiences (if that’s possible under your insurance) — they’ll pay attention; at least they’ll be sensitive to your worries. If it’s not possible under your insurance, sit down with yourself and revisit your aversion to the pain. Ninety-eight percent. That’s huge. But only if it’s found in time.

Prevention only works if you actually do it.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 November 2008 9:46 pm

    Yeah, what P.I. said. And take an Aleve before you go. And don’t schedule it for when you’re all bloaty. You’ll be fine. Four hard squeezes, hold your breath, etc. Beats finding a lump that’s gotten big enough to find with your fingers.

    And I’m glad you’re fine, too, P.I.

  2. 6 November 2008 3:21 am

    I have a friend my age (she’s just turned 33, I’ve not quite caught up yet) with breast cancer. It can happen to anyone.

    She’s had the lump removed and had chemo – about to start radiotherapy. All is looking pretty good, but it’s still scary as anything.

    I’m glad you’re OK. I was feeling sick with worry there for a minute xx

  3. cowgirl permalink
    6 November 2008 9:17 am

    Great post– now go get squeezed if you are 40!!!

  4. 7 November 2008 12:52 pm

    Brava! Sounds like you’ve got a good baseline from a thorough lab. But it’s too bad you weren’t better prepared for the request for additional images. I always ask for an appointment when a radiologist is in the office so the films can be read before I leave. And everyone should remember they can find anomalies that aren’t cancer.

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