While sitting at my annual physical appointment, my doctor said, “Oh, and your due for your annual mammogram!” I cringed because no woman I know of likes getting a mammogram. But I wanted to be healthy, and would definitely regret having breast cancer that was too far along to do much of anything. My husband and children, especially, need me around for longer than that!
I took my script home, and later on during the week, called to schedule my mammogram appointment. My previous one was done about six months after I had my son. Everything turned out fine then, so I didn’t expect anything different this time. Just a test that took up some time — no big deal, really.
I went in mid-October. My circumstances might be a little different from others, because I have cerebral palsy and I have difficulty staying still, especially when my body feels pain. I did the absolute best I could. The woman doing my screening wanted me to wait around for someone else to look at my image. I didn’t panic because I chalked it up to a blurry image due to movement.
That person never came, so I was told that they would send my scan to the doctor and get back to me if needed. I didn’t forget about the day, but I didn’t dwell on the what ifs as of yet. I just figured that if they saw a problem, they’d tell me soon enough. And, about a week later, I received a letter and a telephone call from my doctor, asking me to get a follow-up mammogram as soon as possible.
I decided to go to another imaging place, because I wasn’t too impressed with the nurses and techs. They talked to me as if I were a child instead of a 40-year-old woman. I’ll never forget that second scan. It was raining, I had a miserable head cold and just was feeling terrible. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and everyone was busy discussing family plans. My attendant got there early, and we waited for a while in the waiting room.
Luckily, the facility had a much bigger changing room for my wheelchair to get into. Then we sat in another waiting room with magazines. Some magazines were specifically for women with breast cancer. I thought about the other women in the waiting room with me, and hoped they didn’t hear any bad news. What an awful time to hear such a diagnosis, just before a major family holiday. Never thought that it could be me.
The technicians were very friendly and respectful of my disability. One said that they felt bad making me go through it, but I kept thinking, let’s just do it and get a good, clear image so I could go home and put this behind me until next year. But, no, they saw something. To be safe, they wanted me to have an ultrasound.
I used to feel happy hearing about ultrasounds, being a mother of two precious children. However, this one sounded cold and uncomfortable. I had to wait with my attendant in a small, overly warm room until they could fit me in. My cold medicine was wearing off, and I was just praying that everything would be fine. The wait felt like an eternity.
Finally, it was my turn to go into another dark, small, overly warm room. My motorized wheelchair can tilt to a recline position, so I didn’t need to transfer from my wheelchair. The room had two techs and both were nice. Then, they called in an oncologist and I knew something wasn’t right. She looked, and then, very nicely, explained everything to me.
As her words were falling from her lips, my world was changing. A business card was handed to me, for a meeting with an oncologist to schedule a biopsy. It would be an outpatient procedure and I’d be put under anesthesia.
I became one of the millions of women who embark down the pink journey of breast cancer. Take my hand as you read my column, and we will navigate it together.
Note: Breast Cancer News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.