The need for a follow-up mammogram

“We want you to come back in for another mammogram. There is a dense area that we would like additional views on.”

I heard the nurse speaking, but it took a few minutes to comprehend what she was saying. She did go on to say that they didn’t see a mass or anything like that. It was just a “dense” area.

As soon as I got off the phone with her, I turned to my husband and told him that they wanted to take another look at my left breast. (We had actually been getting ready to go to the movies – a daytime date while the kids were in school.)

“Don’t worry,” he said.

He knew exactly where my mind had gone. My friend Trish was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. She passed away this past August when the cancer spread to her brain.

I immediately called and made an appointment for a follow-up mammogram. The scheduler told me it could take up to an hour and a half and had to be done at a different facility. With that news, I knew I wouldn’t get in that day. We were going out of town the next day so the earliest appointment I could get would be the following Tuesday.

Even during the movie, my mind kept wandering back to what a dense area could mean. I sent a message to my Aunt who works in a radiology facility in California. She wrote back that this was very common and often was nothing serious. My mom and other aunt both echoed the same thing.

So I went off to the beach for the weekend and put it out of my mind. Tuesday came, and I went to the Women’s Imaging Center. As I sat in the waiting room, I checked my Facebook account. Trish’s husband posted how his kids’ teachers were planning on doing something special for the kids because that weekend would be the first Mother’s Day since Trish died.

After changing into my wonderful special blue top, I was taken to another waiting room where two other woman waited. It didn’t take long for me to realize that both of them had breast cancer.

I picked up a Reader’s Digest magazine to read one of their columns where people send in funny little antidotes. A headline caught my attention, and I started to read an article about a doctor who knew his wife was dying of cancer but didn’t tell her he knew the diagnosis was terminal. It was not the best article to read while waiting.

mammogramWhen I went in for the mammogram, the technician showed me the questionable area. It was close to my body at the top of my left breast. A mammogram is always uncomfortable, but I knew this one wouldn’t be fun because of the location they would be trying to view. And I was right.

After they took two views, the technician said they would do a sonogram of the area next and then the radiologist would review the scans. I think it was the combination of things, but I actually was getting quite concerned. I thought about Trish and the other women I have known who have or had breast cancer. Most of them survived it but there are no guarantees. Trish had the most positive attitude. She was sure she would beat cancer. And for a while, it seemed she had. And then cancer cells appeared in her spinal fluid. Within 8 months, she was gone.

As it turns out, my dense area is a cyst. It is a common thing, and as long as it is not causing me any problems, nothing needs to be done. I actually got into my car and cried with relief. I knew the odds were that it was nothing, but it still was close enough of a scare that had me thinking “what if.”

 

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3 thoughts on “The need for a follow-up mammogram

  1. sjhigbee says:

    Well done for immediately following it up and I’m delighted it has proved to be nothing serious.

  2. Joan Lindgren says:

    Glad to hear everything is fine. Scary having to worry about it over the weekend. Hope everyone does their preventive health procedures.

  3. I had the same experience. Only they came back and said the area needed a biopsy. I did it on the spot–a painful ultrasound biopsy. And a few days later, filled with anxiety, my cancer was confirmed. The really good news is that BECAUSE I GOT YEARLY MAMMOGRAMS we had caught it early. It had not spread into my lymph nodes. My treatment would be removal of the breast, immediate reconstruction, and taking a pill for ten years. This month it will be three years. Cancer is nearly always curable–IF it is caught early. So, lesson learned, get your mammograms every year without fail!!!

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