Tag Archive | Dr. Chan

Clean Mammogram

Since it’s been a year since I was diagnosed with cancer, it’s also been a year since my last mammogram. Back downtown I went. I had forgotten to check the name of the practice that does the mammograms, so I was a bit lost when I got to the professional building. I knew I was at the right building, but finding the right floor was trickier. Got it in one, though.

They were quick to call me back to get my mammogram. I barely had time to fill out all the paperwork I was supposed to before they called me to change. Everything off from the waist up, of course. At least they had decent gowns – they kind of felt like a bathrobe.

My gown for the mammogram

My gown for the mammogram

Once I was escorted to the mammogram room, it took half as long as last year, since there was no reason (or ability) to do the right side.

A mammogram machine - your breast gets squished between the clear and black panels

A mammogram machine – your breast gets squished between the clear and black panels

They do two images. The first is with the machine parallel to the floor, and the second is at a 45 degree angle, and your arm has to hold the metal bar on the gray outer circle. The technician very tenderly places your breast in between the two plates, and then starts to squish. Not painfully, but quite firmly. She stays in the room the whole time, behind a little protective station.

The technician's station

The technician’s station

Once she finished taking the photos, she headed out to the radiologist to “check the quality of the image.” Dr. Chan actually came in to the room to go over the results with me. He started out his conversation with, “I don’t know if you remember me.” Of course I do! He started the whole process, so he’s seared into my memory. Luckily, the results were much better this time around. He let me know things looked fine this time. Yeah! Won’t have to do that for another year, although I have plenty of other doctor’s appointments still on the docket.



So, we picked the kids up from camp on Saturday, and the biopsy was scheduled for Monday morning. My mother-in-law came down to watch the kids since Miss Adventure had to go to theater camp at 9:30 in the morning, and my husband wanted to come with me for the biopsy. Sunday night I got a call from the nurse, which I thought was odd. Turns out the radiologist who would be performing the biopsy was very sick and would be unable to come in to the office on Monday. I had the option of tentatively scheduling for Tuesday or driving two hours to do the biopsy at a different facility. I wasn’t that desperate to have a needle stuck in me, so I opted for the reschedule. That did mean my mother-in-law wouldn’t be around to watch kids, so we had to call around and find somewhere Mr. Curiosity would be willing to go and play for a few hours while Miss Adventure was at her theater camp, and then pray the radiologist was better.

Tuesday morning came with a call confirming (NOT cancelling) the biopsy, so we sent the kids off to their respective locations and headed in to Erie. Dr. Chan was my radiologist, and he was excellent. Very soft-spoken, and he talked his way through the entire procedure so I knew what he was doing the whole time. First they numb the location up with lidocaine, starting at the skin’s surface, and then injecting deeper into the tissue. That was the most uncomfortable part of the procedure for me, since I hate feeling the pressure of something being injected. It did a great job, though, since I never felt a thing when they put in the needle for the actual biopsy. It was very loud when they took the tissue sample, but Dr. Chan snapped the needle once before he put it in me so I didn’t startle.

I had an ultrasound-guided biopsy, which meant that I was able to watch the biopsy in real-time. I didn’t watch the breast biopsy, but I did watch the lymph node biopsy. You could easily see the needle moving in and out as they numbed the skin, which made me a little woozy. I don’t have a problem with needles, as long as I don’t see them in me. I had no problem with watching the biopsy needle zip in and out to take the samples.

Once they were done, I had to get a mammogram to check the location of the biopsy clip they had inserted in my breast. The squeezing made the biopsy location bleed again, so the nurse had to redo the paper strips they put over the site. Then, they wrap you up tight with an Ace bandage around your breasts that you have to keep on overnight. It’s not at all comfortable, but it’s done to keep the biopsy site squished together and not producing fluid. Any time you have a new cavity in your body, your body tends to fill it with fluid. So, they wrap you up tight to prevent fluid production.

Once I was all cleaned up, my husband and I went back and talked to Dr. Chan. He went over the mammogram and biopsy information and discussed why he was certain the tumor was cancer and not just a cyst or anything else. Again, it was quite comforting to talk to Dr. Chan. Not because what he was saying wasn’t scary, but because his certainty moved it from the realm of “what if” to “what now”. Dr. Chan said he’d talk to the pathologist and see if he could rush the results, which I should expect in 2-4 days.

I was supposed to keep the paper strips on until the fell off days later, but I had an allergic reaction under some of them (it looked like poison ivy). I called the nurse about the itchiness, and she said I could just use a regular band-aid. I was a little sore for a few days under my arm since the lymph node Dr. Chan biopsy was close to some muscles. There was also some bruising the developed over the next few days that still hasn’t completely resided, three weeks later.