On my back with one arm raised above my head, turning my head to the side I can just see the screen Ingrid my tech, is looking at. It all looks like a messy tangle of fibers and wavy lines, there doesn’t seem to be anything I would recognize as breast tissue or a mass of any kind. Of course I have no idea how to read what is on the screen, and wonder idly if that’s why Ingrid lets me see it.
It seems to be taking a long time but I am sure it is really only 10 minutes or so, it just seems like forever. I am not used to lying still without something to occupy me whether it be my laptop, the TV, my beading, a book, or the face of the person I am talking to. It hurts my neck to turn this way for any length of time, but I force myself to do it so I can see the screen. I need to look at something.
Finally Ingrid is done. She places a washcloth on my breast and pulls my gown closed. She moves with purpose across the room where she sits in front of another screen to, as far as I can tell, review the shots she has saved and will give to the radiologist. She tells me she will go consult with him and will be back in a couple of minutes. With nothing left to look at I close my eyes and hope to drift. Peacefully.
Not long after, the door opens and the rest of the overhead lights come on. I shade my eyes, complain about my nap being interrupted and I smile. Here is Ingrid and Dr Something I Did Not Hear. He tells me that the ultrasound would show if the spot they were looking at was a cyst, but they could not see it with the ultrasound. Not a cyst. It could be nothing, still not time to worry, but because it was not there when I had my previous mammogram in 2003, it still needs to be identified. He will pull the previous films again and review those with my new film, as well as the ultrasound. Then he will let my doctor know what he recommends. It may be an MRI, it may be a biopsy, but it will definitely be something.
Please, he says, follow up with your doctor tomorrow.
Two hours later my doctor calls me at work. She is a nice lady, comforting and reassuring but direct and to the point. “The radiologist is recommending a biopsy.”
She tells me how it shouldn’t be too bad. I will be on my stomach on a table with a hole in it which will allow my breast to hang through it. How flattering. They already know it will ‘hang’. Then my breast will be flattened like when doing a mammogram, and the needle will be directed with something akin to GPS technology, minus the voice telling the doctor to turn left at the next cross street. She says she has had it done and it’s not that bad. Yet my mind flashes back to Jenn at Serving The Queens, with that needle in there poking around and around until they hit something. Ugh. I have a high pain tolerance. But that does not mean I like pain.
Then she tells me what I repeat later when I am explaining to my daughter and my BF, and what I will repeat here as well.
“It is probably nothing to worry about. Over 80% of biopsied breast abnormalities are benign, and if it does turn out to be something” she pauses “then that mammogram just saved your life because it will have been found so early.”
See? Still not time to worry.