Six months ago I went for my first mammogram. Having turned 40 this year, my OBGYN reminded me it was time. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous. I had heard the testing was painful and uncomfortable. I didn’t look forward to going through process or having to worry about results. Not that I expected to have any negative results given to me. I do not have any history of Breast Cancer in my family. However this is just one of those things you don’t forward to.
I went for my first mammogram. They gave me a gown and then called me into a room where I was squeezed into several positions as they took images. Was it painful? Not at all. In fact the technician was so gentle and accommodating as she saw it was my first time. The first part seemed to have gone by easily and quite painlessly. They asked my to wait outside as the doctor reviewed at the images.
To my surprise I was called back into the room for more images of my left breast. They saw something that needed to be looked into closer. Needless to say, at this point I started to worry. As I sat there waiting for the doctor to look over the second set of images I experienced a myriad of emotions. I was nervous, I was sad, I was angry all at once.
I was then taken into the exam room. They needed to have an ultrasound of the left breast. I started asking the doctor every question I could think of. She was very kind, understanding and patient. She explained they found calcifications in the left breast. She also explained that this is very common. This having been my first mammogram, they did not have a baseline. Therefore this would be my baseline. I would have to return in 6 months for a follow-up. Until then they truly had no answers except that it didn’t look like anything to worry about.
Six months would allow enough time to see if any changes occurred with the calcifications. If no changes took place that meant it most likely was benign and just normal for my breast. If changes did occur they may have to do a biopsy. I left in tears. I left with fear and sadness and anger. I could not believe this was happening. I was so scared and I didn’t want to have to wait 6 months for the results!
I have a four-year-old son that needs me! I can’t have breast cancer. I have already battled may way through problems with my bone marrow and severe anemia…now this! I was completely devastated. I couldn’t believe this was happening and I was so scared.
I turned to Google for answers. I looked up everything on calcifications. I was left with even more questions. Were my calcifications linear, were they micro, how many of them were there? So many questions. Luckily I had people I could turn to for more information. I went to see my OBGYN and had her look at the report. She understood my fear and explained this could be absolutely normal. She explained she had gone through something similar. I also spoke to my oncologist who read the report and spoke to the radiologist. She also assured me there was nothing to worry about.
After a month of reading and asking and reading some more, I simply had to stop the madness. I was not the first woman to go through this nor would I be the last. I was not the first mother to have this result, nor would I be the last. Therefore I had to wait. In the meantime I kept the fear deep inside. But I also knew no matter what I had to be stronger than this. Strong for my son and strong for myself. I see so many women that go through this and who come out healthy. So many women that have not let cancer get the best of them.
Six months have brought me to today. Today I went for my follow-up. Again filled with fear and sadness and anger. Everyone once more very supportive at the center. I must say they truly make it easier. They took the initial images of the left breast. Then they proceeded to the ultrasound. I was so happy to hear that there had been no changes to the calcifications. They remained unchanged. Normal. Relieve immediately washed over me. The doctor explained I still have to return in another 6 months for the last follow-up, however this was a very good sign.
Today I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders. I left the doctors office with a huge smile on my face and my heart. I picked up my son from school and hugged him with relief, with peace in my heart knowing I was ok.
Lesson learned here? Do not take anything for granted. Live your life every day with happiness and love. Be proactive. Be informed. Be active in your yearly health checkups. Talk to your doctors. Find inner peace and strength in knowing that there is so much support out there.
Today on International Women’s Day, I pay my absolute respect to all the women who have battled breast or any other type of cancer. To all the women who have survived cancer and are stronger today for the experience. To all the women that are undergoing their battle as you read this blog. Your strength is a lesson to us all. It is inspiration.
I found strength to within all the women that helped me through this time. My doctors who were supportive, my friends who held my hand. I found strength in my family and their positivity. Most of all I found strength within my son, the one person who reminds me that no matter what I need to move forward, be strong and fight any battle that I am faced with.