Baseline Mammograms and December 25th...


How does a mammogram and Christmas go together? Oh, it does! Earlier this month I went in for my baseline mammogram (I am not even 40 yet!) with really a carefree attitude. I remember the tech saying something about 10% of women do a call-back mammogram. But that never registered with me until I got that call back. That call back proved they did see something...that call back led to ultrasounds which later led to a biopsy.

After that first ultrasound, I sat there waiting (which was only the beginning of my "waiting"). This is the ultrasound that you know so well that showed you that first heartbeat or your little one sucking it's thumb. But, now that ultrasound has changed it's appearance and is showing something not so pretty.

Nothing can "rock" a woman's world when two white coats walk in after an ultrasound...explaining their "reasoning" why a biopsy is needed. They are talking and you look like you are listening but your mind is in every direction...your kids and husband, you are questioning and praying and your hands are shaking because "You are only 38 and there is no family history and.... and... and....!

When they finish talking...you only hear that last sentence it's 50/50 and the biopsy will give us the answer we need. After waiting days to do your "call back" mammogram...You wait some more days till that biopsy.

The last place a women should be is on the internet. You should just stop before you even press "return" on google after typing "mass in breast". At that point, the waiting becomes almost "painful" and everything on the internet almost makes you want to check into Cleveland Clinic right now and find the best "nanny" you can for your kids and go buy a "hope" chest for each child and write every "dream" you ever had for them.

The wait is over...just to begin a "new" type of wait. The day of the biopsy is here.

It's a procedure that you want to forget and somehow it almost seems wrong that you let someone do this to you. But, you know it saves lives and it will give you that answer to the 50/50 question you have been googling the past 5 days. After the biopsy, that man in the white coat gives you the same percentage and tries to make a joke and it takes everything in you not to take that ultrasound wand and knock him in the knees.

Then you wait some more...and you wait...you wait over the weekend and it's Christmas. A simple baseline mammogram has somehow not made your Christmas very merry and you continue to wait. In your mind, you know you should not "worry" but exchange that worry for "prayer" and trust.

However, the worry creeps up in the oddest parts of the day, you are standing in line at Target and see those magnetic pink ribbons for the back of your car. It hits you and for the first time you pay attention to what that means or could mean. You are sitting in the restaurant and you see a women with "really" short hair and you want to go over and find out her story. Did it all begin with a biopsy?

Now at this point, you may think I am totally nuts. But, if we are honest with ourselves...these are the thoughts (that we never talk about) but you continue to wait and the days become a week. On the 9th day, you call your ob/gyn and they can tell by the desperation in your voice that you need to know the results. You may not have "cancer" but you have either developed "irritable bowel syndrome" or and ulcer the size of a golf ball.

In my case, that call finally came and I don't know what that doctor said but I only heard "benign". That's it.

Now here I am writing with a greater awareness and sensitivity to all those women who receive a different phone call...to all those women who were "just" doing a baseline mammogram.

With a little advice at the end before you schedule that baseline mammogram...don't ever do a baseline mammogram near any holiday...Christmas... Valentines...July 4th or Sweetest Day....the "waiting" is excruciating but DON'T throw in an extra day that the lab may be closed due to a holiday.

I wrote this for all the women who will "google" before a biopsy...hoping this shows up in the search. You are not the only one who thinks these things...


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