Wednesday, December 2, 2009

refraining from full scale full moon freakout

I have had exactly two mammograms - one last year after I'd turned 40 and I squeezed (ha) one in this year, before I am potentially disallowed permission to look after my own body too often. So I am not sure what to make of this letter, sent ONE DAY after this year's appointment on the day after Thanksgiving:

Dear Ms. S,
In order to complete your recent breast imaging examination, we would like to perform additional evaluation studies. Blah blah blah, blahblah blah call Vancouver Radiologists blahbedyblah blah discuss the next steps.

Blah blah insurance blah blah. Blahblahblah annual deductibles and/or co-pays. Blah blahblah questions or concerns blah blah blahblah blah.

The prelimiminary results of this procedure have been communicated to your referring physician.

Electronically signed by So and So, MD

I love my breasts, and I love being around my family & friends. I don't love the idea of losing my breasts - and that is not because I am vain (I don't think?) or believe a woman is remotely incomplete without them; even though I am loathe to show cleavage, I simply enjoy dressing them up now & again and think they make for a pleasant silhouette on my short-girl frame - plus (most significantly) I abhor the idea of spending hours away from my people & classroom to deal with various tests and treatments. [Part of that is because I am freakishly OCD about managing my house & calendar and because I am ill-prepared for a substitute to take over my classes, but MAINLY I just want to be doing more fun & inspiring things with those I love.] And so I am feeling nauseated about this stupid notice.

Right now I welcome any experienced insight regarding this type of letter as well as supportive ju-ju sent in my general direction. And I want every woman of a certain age to make that appointment. I promise it's not so bad, and remember - I am the poster child for Pain Weenies.


Fantastic Forrest said...

I have a dim memory of a similar experience in the past. I worried, I was rechecked, all was good. I looked up "mammogram further evaluation" because I knew others would have had similar experiences. MedHelp says "It is not at all uncommon for "something" to appear on a screening mammogram that needs further evaluation. This could be anything from a fold of skin, to a cyst, to an actual nodule requiring yet further evaluation. In many instances a diagnostic mammogram will focus in on the area of concern and it will clarify that nothing is worrisome. An ultrasound is a test that is good at clarifying a fluid filled mass (benign cyst) from a solid mass (something that needs further investigation.

Hang in there, Stephanie. Don't borrow trouble. Deep breaths. XOXO

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

Just a year ago I had this same scare, and it troubled me to no end, even as I tried to put it out of my mind.

It was a cyst, something that they will monitor from here on out, and this was all at 37. Before all the hoopla was supposed to happen.

Remember to that you are still young in the land of mammograms, and our tissue tends to be denser. I imagine they may want to do an ultrasound, which will feel silly, but is painless.

I would say not to worry, but I remember just how I couldn't seem to help it. I would offer my advice when I get these kind of harrowing letters from doctors: Don't goggle too much. I have panicked myself beyond recognition.

Make the appointment and we are here for you.

I'll come along in the waiting room if you like. :)

Shana said...

I've got zip on experience to offer, and I kind of suck at the whole *support* thing, tending to come off as kind of lame with my "don't worry!" crapola when, of course, you're going to worry. So I say schedule it, get it over with, and I will concentrate my efforts on the sending of the good ju-ju. I am from New Orleans, you know, so my ju-ju is quite powerful. xoxo

Melissa Haak said...

If they sent a letter and your doctor didn't call you...I would not freak out yet. Mammograms can be really hard to read, they are actually not the BEST tool available and they probably just can't really read something and need to try again to get a better picture.

Seriously, think about it this way. If it was a huge cancerous looking tumor and they sent you a LETTER instead of a call (wasting valuable time) you would sue them...oh wait, you're not in America, you probably won't sue :-)

I just went through my own scare and I can only have ultrasounds (b/c of a current medical issue) so I know that telling you not to worry will not work because it didn't help me. Make your Apt ASAP so you have peace of mind and hug your kids little tighter.

I'll be thinking of you!

Ami said...

It's not unusual at all for a mammogram to be atypical and require further evaluation.

I know so many people who have had the same thing happen. In all but one case, it was nothing of consequence.

But worry over possibilities is in your nature as a thinking individual. So go find out what's up as soon as you can.

And keep us posted.

Danielle said...

Sending good boob vibes your way! Praying all is well.

shrink on the couch said...

visualize your strong, healthy body and your strong, healthy breasts. visualize yourself jumping and whooping when you get the "everything looks good" notice. and yes, as FF says, breath deeply, everyday, several times a day.

Stu said...

I think the Doctor thinks you are hot and is just using this as an excuse to look at your boobs again.

I'd like to take a second look too. :)


brandy101 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brandy101 said...

(awful typos mostly corrected this time around!)

Its pretty common to get a callback, so try your best to take it in stride. In fact, schedule the appointment time before lunch and take yourself out for a fab lunch after the boob squish.

Just remember that putting stuff like this off can make it worse to deal with if it turns out there IS something to deal with.

Cheryl said...

Not unusual at all--don't freak out. If they were all that concerned, you probably would have gotten a call.

Very Mary said...

Imagine my delight when I received a similar notice (via telephone) after my recent annual crotch exam. I went back for biopsies. The news isn't amazing at all, no it isn't. But knowing is SO much better than not knowing. I promise.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

The new mammography picks up everything--many, many things that were never seen before, the vast majority of them nothing.

I've been through this before and it was nothing.

This anxiety is part of the reason that committee was talking about changing mammography guidelines--I'm not saying I agree, but this is exactly why.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I was thinking about what Jenn ^ said and Greg and I were just discussing that last many scares because the technology just isn't perfect. I hate that you have to carry the worry around.

Alison said...

lol at Dr. Stu's comment. What everyone else said is true--it's hard to read mammograms and they just want to rule everything bad out. My mom's mother had breast cancer, so my mom was understandably nervous when the couple of times she got this kind of notice, but everything was fine. I'll pray that your boobs are fine too. (Fine as in healthy, not hot, although I'm sure they are that, too!)

Anonymous said...

yes, to all of the above, great boobs :) dense tissue, get retested and get the answer. Try not to sweat it.

Here I'll make you laugh...before I had a reduction -- it took 2 plates to get one of them shot- imagine how mortifying that was- ummm err they tried to explain that they could not get all of it into 1 shot LENGTHWISE.

hugs to you, if I were closer I would go sit in the waiting room with you too--klcrab

LarryG said...

co-operate after you are fully satisfied with the information you have received... ask tons of questions, write down everything that comes to mind and take your list with you... take a 2nd set of ears with you to make sure you heard what you thought, and repeat anything you consider significant back to the person who said it to you for affirmation that you got it...

and dress up for the trip ;)

Janet said...

I had calcifications and had to have an ultrasound and everything, but no cancer! Good luck!

262mom said...

OK so when I was 35, the boobie bus came to the office and since it was free I got a "baseline mammogram". Then I also got one of those letters and they wanted me to come down to the Mother Ship of the boobie bus for further tests. And I was all, I am not going down there, so I did it closer to my home. Honestly, I think that they just wanted more $$ for me to come in for further tests, since my company probably paid a flat fee to get the bus out here and do them. So I went to my hospital where they do competitive boobie smashing and everything was fine.
They had way more advanced equipment than the boobie bus though, and it WAS FREEZING in there. So good luck :)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Late to the post and haven't read the other comments. That letter sure makes a gal nervous, I know. I've gotten that letter more than once, and each time you start thinking that what ifs. Here's what I've been told: The diagnostic tools that we have these days pick up every little thing. That's good. Most of the time, it's nothing to worry about, and having routine mammograms allows every little thing to be tracked over time. Also good. But it means that every little thing has to be checked out. Chances are good that it is all good, but you'll go check.


Checking keeps us healthy.

Keep us posted.


EatPlayLove said...

Thinking of you!


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