It was annoying and wouldn’t go away. A mid sized blemish on my left breast popped up unexpectedly and just wouldn’t totally go away, even after using hypoallergenic soap and softer bras.
Out of ideas how to make it stop, I went to my doc to have the blemish examined.
“Hmmm. You’ve never had any like this before?” she asked.
“No. It’s the only one I’ve had on a breast, ever.”
“Well, it could be something for Dermatology to look at – but I’d like to get a mammogram done just to rule out things. When was your last one?”
My mind started to race. Did she think this was something serious? After I told her my last date, she continued. “I think it would be good just to have another mammogram done for comparison’s sake. Chances are, everything’s fine,” she reassured me.
Two weeks later, I stood at the not-intimidating-at-all mammography machine, ready to have my poor boob smushed.
“There! All done. I’ll have the Radiologist look at these real quick to see if he needs any more images. Be right back,” the cheerful tech chirped.
10 minutes passed. This seemed a little long. Then the door opened.
“Ma’am, we’d like to have a few more images done just to get a closer look,” the tech explained. “There’s nothing to worry about; the Radiologist just wants to be sure of what he’s looking at.” Well…ok, I thought. Nothing to worry about, I told myself.
After wincing through another smushing, I sat and waited a few minutes. I had gotten mammograms done before and have never had to wait around – usually, it’s pics done, go home, and they’ll call or send results.
Then the door opened. Three people came in.
The tallest guy introduced himself as the Radiologist. Another doctor accompanied him with the cheerful tech, who wasn’t so chipper this time.
“Ma’am, after looking at your images, I’m seeing an usual area in the upper part of your breast. It’s not a lump, but it’s a little odd looking. It could be fibrous or scar tissue, so would you be able to stay and have an ultrasound done? We could probably get a better idea that way.”
Ok, I said. But inside, I thought – is this really happening? Is there something wrong? This was supposed to be a pimple.
Though I calmly laid on the table as the ultrasound took place, my mind swam. Don’t let your imagination get away from you, I told myself. They’re just being thorough. I tried to study the radiologist’s face as he rolled the device over me. I looked to the monitor to try and see what the others saw. The doctor pointed out a tiny area which looked like what I could best describe as “tentacles.”
“This doesn’t resemble a mass or a lump, but it is unusual,” the doctor said. “We are looking at a few options. One, we could do nothing now and do another ultrasound in a few months. Two, we could try and get a MRI to get a closer picture. However, we may not be able to get you scheduled for a month. Third, we could do a biopsy and have the tissue tested.”
“Do you think it’s cancerous?” I asked.
“That’s something a biopsy could rule out,” the doc said. So, I agreed.
Crazy enough, the area of concern wasn’t even the pimple in question! That pimple was most likely a clogged/infected hair follicle.
Jesus, I thought. What if I didn’t get this checked out? I wasn’t due for a mammogram for another eight months.
Unfortunately, the biopsy didn’t give a definite answer (and let me tell you – even though you are numbed up for the procedure – it is NOT fun. I was sweating buckets the whole time!). “Benign with unusual markers” was the official report.
My doctor, however, wants to know what those unusual markers are. I do, too. It could be nothing – but it could also be precancerous tissue, or Stage 0 breast cancer. She, along with my husband and I, decided it’s best to do another biopsy where a larger sample is taken to be tested (thankfully, I’ll be put under for this one!). The surgery takes place in a few days and I should know results in a week’s time.
I have never heard of Stage 0 before, but with the new technology available to several hospitals, images can be seen in 3D now, versus 2D. The hospital where I go has this technology, and it’s possible to catch cancerous activity in its earliest stages. Though I’m nervous, I am thankful this can be caught quickly.
My biggest takeaway from the whole situation is – Trust your instincts. When your body is doing something different from the norm, get it checked out! Though my annoying pimple had nothing to do with this situation, it was probably God’s way of sending me a signal before things potentially got out of hand.
Women Over 40 – GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS DONE.
Here are some resources to find free or reduced cost mammograms: Free or Low Cost Mammograms
Or – try The National Mammography Program for facilities in your area: National Mammography Program
I share my story to spread awareness – don’t put off something that doesn’t feel right.
I am also so thankful for my rock, my partner, my love – he has been so supportive and lets me cry, vent, or gets silly with me. I am blessed!
Love, laughter, and shoes –