I once heard the very wise and wonderful writer and lactation consultant Diane Weissinger say in a conference session that humans are the only mammal that wonders (and worries!) whether they have milk or not. Can you imagine a dog doing some of the things human mothers do to make sure they have milk? Of course not. It is wonderful to be human, but our brains sure do allow us to torture ourselves.
I thought of this today while my own brain got off the leash and went for a journey. You see, I had been recalled to the imaging center for some additional mammogram pictures. My doctor's office told me that due to my young(ish) age, my breasts were dense and they needed more pictures. However when I got to the appointment today they explained that there was a dense nodule showing up in one breast and that they needed more pictures of that.
Yikes! The technician took three additional images, and returned me to the waiting area. When she returned from sharing the images with the doctor she said that someone would come get me for a breast ultrasound. Eventually I had two different ultrasound technicians take pictures of an area in my left breast.
At one point I was lying on the exam table, waiting for the first technician to bring the other tech in; for some reason the first woman couldn't quite get what the doctor was looking for. My mind swung pretty wildly from calm to panic, wondering how I would possibly decide on the type of cancer treatment to have (alternative or traditional?), how it would feel to go through treatment, and whether or not I would die. There were times during each of the exams that I truly felt calm and certain that nothing was wrong. And of course times when I thought the worst.
When they got the pictures the doctor was looking for, they escorted me back to the dressing area and informed me that my gyn would contact me in 3-4 days. I started to ask a question and the tech told me she couldn't tell me anything, and that I couldn't speak to anyone about the results, that I'd need to wait to hear from my doctor. I got dressed and went to the bathroom before leaving. I realized that it was Thursday, which meant I could very likely be waiting and worrying all weekend about this. I poo-poohed myself and was going to leave.
But then I 'heard' my mother talking to me. I wish I could recall the exact message I got from her, but the gist of it was that I needed to insist on talking to the radiologist. And even though part of me didn't want to, because that type of thing makes me nervous, I went out to the reception desk and explained that it was not satisfactory for me to be there for about three hours and then be told to wait a few days to hear the report. I was calm and collected. My heart was not pounding. I just did what I needed to- I'm very proud of myself.
So they called and the radiologist did speak with me. He showed me my February mammogram, the additional pictures from today, and the ultrasound. It is very odd to see a picture of your own breast with a big, white spot in it. He feels that it is most likely a fibroadenoma due to the shape, the margins, and the fact that it hasn't changed in size or appearance since the February pictures. His recommendation would be a follow-up mammogram in six months, and another six months after that. He expects that it would show no growth and no change and that I wouldn't need to worry about it after that. If I didn't want to wait, a needle biopsy or other test could be done to confirm that it is benign.
I'm not sure what I will do, I'm waiting to hear from my gyn practice. I did feel so much better after talking to him. I feel ridiculously proud of myself for handling it as I did. I think it is huge for most folks to advocate for themselves, but knowing the anxiety piece of the puzzle that is my mind, well, I think it is just an enormous thing for me to have gone through without feeling any anxiety at all.