Last week, I shared with you my diagnosis… click HERE, to read.
As is customary, it was a process. This is how it went…
Like many of you, 2020 removed the option of my routine breast exam: everything was shut down.
2021 brought our new health insurance, Kaiser Permanente.
I am a fairly avid yearly check-up person. I have to be for thyroid issues. So, when our new insurance took effect, I knew I needed to establish doctors. At the end of January, I met with my new GP. (Who is wonderful!) He encouraged me to get my annual mammogram ASAP since it was 6 months overdue.
That was my next visit, in February, a routine mammogram. Since they had no prior films, they wanted me to acquire those. It seemed like a simple process, but took several months to accomplish. (Ugh, you know the drill!) After getting my old films; the radiologist wanted me to return for a diagnostic Mammogram and Sonogram.
I went for those tests in May, ending with a needle biopsy of two areas on the same breast in early June.
I had a biopsy once before, maybe 6 or 7 years ago. It was benign and terrible!! I was not prepared for the test itself. I know in the grand scheme of health issues, this is nothing, but I thought just that… it will be nothing!!
Ahhhhhh, I’m not sure what went wrong that day, but it left me with horrible feelings … as in “I never want to do that again!” They asked me before the exam if I wanted some Valium; I declined. I’m not much of a medication person. They said the worst part would be the numbing. Ok, I can grit my teeth with the best of them and make it through. If only that had been true! I don’t remember every detail, but I know it lasted over an hour; people came and went from the room. Maybe I wasn’t numbed properly or there were other things going on, maybe not the best radiologist/sonographer. I don’t know, but I DO KNOW I left there thinking… “If I ever have this again. I’m taking the Valium!!!” AND, I’m not driving myself home after!!
The word “biopsy” was very unwelcomed bringing lots of emotions to the surface … to say the least!
To the rescue, my GP, Dr. Mira!
I asked the radiologist if I could have Valium before the procedure. Apparently, that is not their norm, but he said I could ask my GP. Believe me, it didn’t take a second for me to decide… I moved on it!!
I sent Dr M an email explaining the situation. We do that in Kaiser. His response was so caring and thorough. He said he understood my anxiety over the procedure, but he had a few questions. He wanted to medicate me properly for the best outcome! His questions: Do you have more anxiety over just having the procedure? Or Is it the pain of the procedure that causes you more distress?
Significant questions: Valium would help the first one, but not the pain. He would give me something else for that!
After thinking, I decided it was the potential pain that seemed to weigh on me… laying there for an hour (in my experience) in pain was the most dreaded. I felt like if I had a plan for the pain, my anxiety would decrease over the procedure.
So he prescribed me a pain med to take prior to the procedure.
Honestly, walking into my appointment, I felt much more confident knowing I had one pill in my purse to assist me getting through. I had a plan. I had something to help myself conquer this nasty giant.
I also prayed about the procedure and had family members praying. I always pray for physicians and caregivers when someone asks me to pray for their health. So, no different, I was praying for the radiology team.
Day Of: They called my name, the sonographer met me and engaged me right away. I was quick to tell her I was anxious and recalled my prior “nightmare”. She immediately told me… “well, you have “THE BEST” today. If I was going to have a procedure, I would wait to get on his calendar!” I felt so much relief hearing that!! I told her about my pill, in case I got loopy, foggy, or dizzy. She thanked me and told me to take it while I was getting changed!
“Once he gets you numbed, each biopsy takes about 5 minutes,” she said.
FIVE MINUTES… WHAT!!!
It was then I realized something was very wrong with my last biopsy.
I can stand anything for five minutes. It was the hour long “circus” that did me in!!
I tolerated my two biopsies! The medicine, the best doctor and the procedure done correctly was SO much easier than my prior experience. All done under 30 minutes from numbing to walking out! Believe me, the radiologist’s name is in my contact list😁.
My results were BENIGN for both biopsies! Yippee!! Shouts of JOY!
However, one of my biopsies contained papilloma cells, which can turn to carcinoma cells. It was very small. Two choices: observe it carefully on mammograms or have a lumpectomy to remove the cells and the concern of future cancer.
I obviously chose to have the lumpectomy and remove the worry. The breast specialist surgeon said in about 20% of the cases they find cancer cells in the lump.
Tuesday, August 10th ushered me into the surgical suite undergoing a lumpectomy. I was 99% confident that was the end. It was over and life could go on.
Friday’s phone call came… which I shared last week.
I was in the 20%: Now, 1 in 8 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
You can imagine my shock when I thought it was benign!
Two HUGE Takeaways:
- Please Get Your Annual Mammograms!!
I know they are uncomfortable. I dread them as much as you!! I groan and moan as the calendar approaches. I’d love to put-it-off…. Every. Time.! I NEVER want to! But, early detection is key! It would have been a very long time before I could have felt a lump!! Technology is in our favor!
- Advocate For Yourself!!
Discuss openly with your Dr. your concerns and issues. I asked for the Valium… they did not offer it, this time! I ended up with a better prescription, but it started the conversation. I felt a teeny tiny bit of control over my prior experience walking in for my biopsies! It made a difference! YOU know YOU best! Don’t ignore your own health needs!
Raise your hand if you’ve had your Mammogram within the last year or have one scheduled!✋
Raise your hand if you’ve learned to advocate for yourself!✋
THE FALL GIVEAWAY IS HERE!!!
Next Tuesday we will talk about why this a special giveaway, but here is what TWO WINNERS will recieve:
My Journey in Pink continues Next Tuesday,
Feel free to share with a friend(s).
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