The doctors keep checking up on me, just to make sure everything’s going fine. I know it’s going fine, but they need to check and see. I had a final checkup with Dr. Kang last week. I won’t need to see him for six more months and then we’ll have the discussion about whether we can put in the implant. Until then, I’ll just get by with a formed bra. One of these days I’ll head over to the Pennsylvania Artificial Limb and Brace Company to get my self a real prosthetic.
This week, I had some internal check-ups. A MuGA and a mammogram. I had a different technician for my mammogram, and she had a hard time getting the right position for the side-ways mammogram. She kept getting my shoulder pinched in the machine. Even less comfortable than just getting my breast squished. No results from either test, which I’m sure means they’ll be fine.
Next week, no doctor’s appointments. Hooray! I’ll have time to do some work around the house.
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
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
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
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.
The first indication that there was something wrong came when I got a mammogram. My primary physician had confirmed with me there was some kind of mass in my right breast, but he assured me it was probably nothing since it had arisen so quickly. However, just to be safe, he ordered a mammogram and an ultrasound for the following week.
For anyone who is going to get a mammogram because of a suspicious lump in your breast, I HIGHLY recommend you bring some moral support with you. Turns out, in these days of digital mammograms, the radiologist can read the mammogram and have a pretty good idea of whether it is cancerous or just a cyst in about five minutes. I went by myself – it was just a test, and why should my husband sit in the waiting room for who knows how long while I’m in a room getting my breast squeezed, right?
The mammogram itself wasn’t too bad. You stand there and move your arm around, and the technician makes sure your breast is in the ideal spot. She asked me to point out where on my breast I felt the lump, so I did (thinking to myself – it’s this whole side, can’t you tell?). After the mammogram, I went right back to the ultrasound technician, another woman. She took a bunch of pictures, but it’s not like it was difficult to lay quietly on the table.
The radiologist came back with the technician after I got dressed, which is never a good sign. He stated that, while they couldn’t be 100% sure until they did a biopsy, all signs pointed to cancer, and would my schedule allow a biopsy in two days? I actually pushed back the biopsy, since my husband and I had planned a two-day bike trip around the Niagara Peninsula while the kids were at camp for the week and I didn’t figure waiting until after the weekend would make a significant difference in my treatment. I think I made it to the car before the shock wore off, the reality hit, and I cried. I cried again when I got home and my husband and I tried to process the fact that I had breast cancer. At least the kids weren’t home to see us so upset.
Next up, the biopsy.