Esther’s Journal – Mammogram I


journals are often used for covering breaking news, or headlines from around the world. In this case, I am the headline and the breaking news. I will be covering step by step as this next stage in my life plays out. So as in every journal, let me start from the beginning.

On December 2, 2009, I went to what I thought would be a routine schedule mammogram. I really didn’t give it much thought. I had two other mammograms in the past years that were negative, so why would this one be any different?

The test seemed like a typical routine for the tech getting ready to perform the procedure. I, on the other hand, was feeling a bit modest. It didn’t take long for the tech to make me feel comfortable, asking me questions about my family, about me. Before I knew it, I was feeling more at ease – so I thought! The mammogram testing begins.

For those of you who have never had one, let me share the experience. First, you have to strip from the waist up in a room that is always freezing. The tech guides you against the machine, places your boob between two panes of glass AND SMASHES THE HECK OUT OF IT!!!!! All of a sudden my boob is about a half-inch thick and two feet wide. (And I’m in the mood for pancakes.)

Something you have to keep in mind is that I’m only 5′1″. I was coming up about an inch short against this machine. I was literally standing on my tip-toes.

Then the tech says to me, ‘Try not to move for a minute.” She’s so lucky that she’s got me by the tit, because I really wanted to kick her.

Finally, she let’s it go. I breathe a sigh of relief until I find out that we’ve only done the horizontal version. We still have the vertical version to go.

CRAP – IT!!!!!!

So, we load it back up between the glass and start smashing. She releases me and I once again make the mistake of thinking I was done.

Nope. Let’s not forget that boobs come in pairs. I still have another one to g0.

DARN!!!

Once it is all done, the tech tells me I can go home and that I will get my results in the mail. Simple enough, right?

Not so fast!!!

Later that day, I received a call from Radiology saying, “A mass was found on your left breast. The doctor would like you to come back December 4th for another mammogram. Could you be here at 9am?” I’m not sure it’s shock I’m feeling at that very moment, but all I do is respond, “Okay.” No questions, just “okay.”

December 4, 2009

I wake up and do my normal morning routines. Make breakfast for my husband, make a lunch for my sister, take four of my grand kids to school, then my sister to work. From there, off to my appointment.

Inside that freezing room once again. Burr!

I’m told by the tech, I won’t have to wait for the results. The doctor will give me them right after the test. This helps.

I think the waiting is the hardest part. It’s even harder when your going through this alone. The silence is just killing me. I hope they don’t take longer. Okay Esther, think positive thoughts. Breathe in and breathe out. It will all be okay. It’s 9:20am. I hope they come in soon!!!!!

The doctor walks into the room smiling. I immediately get a good vibe about him. He begins by saying, ” We’re going to do an ultra-sound.” I say, “Okay.” He shows me an x-ray. “Do you see these dark areas? They’re the normal fat in the breast. The white stuff is fibrogradial tissue. It supports the breast and makes milk for breastfeeding. See this little guy that is white and looks like it has a round edge to it? We want to make sure it’s not early breast cancer. So for that reason, we’re going to do an ultra-sound.” I ask, “Could it be a cyst?” He saya, “That’s a possibility. We’ll know more once the ultra-sound is done.”

I’m not worried. Still thinking about those pancakes. lol

The radiologist gives me the results –

The ultra-sound confirms their concerns. The doctor tells me, ” A cyst is clear and you can see through it. Yours is dark and jagged in shape. So what I would like to do with your consent is, schedule you for a biopsy on December 17. Do you have any questions?” “No.” The doctor asks me again, ” Are you sure you have no questions you’d like to ask me?” I say,” Yes, will it hurt?” He responds, “I’ll make sure to numb the area before I begin.”

This is unbelievable news!!!

On my drive home I wonder if I should tell my family, my husband, or spare all of them until I have the biopsy and know for sure? Then I put myself in their place. Wouldn’t I want to know from the beginning? So I’ll be up front.

December 7th

It’s mine and my husband’s 36th anniversary. All I’m thinking about is, what a wonderful husband I’ve been blessed with.

Then my sister says to me, “There’s a message on the answering machine from your doctor. You might want to hear it.” I listen to the message and it just says for me to call back.

I dial his number and he answers. He sounds so relieved to connect with me. He says, ” I’ve been trying to get you all day!” I said,”I’m so sorry, I’ve been so busy. What’s up?” Dr Featherston is a straight shooter. A no-bull type of doctor, but this time he doesn’t handle me his usual way. Instead, he seems rather human and kind. Don’t get me wrong. I have total respect for Dr Featherston. He might not have a very good bed side manner, but he’s an awesome doctor.

Dr Featherston says, “Esther, I have your results from your mammogram and ultra-sound. I’m going to be straight with you.” I reply, “okay.” I’ve cancelled your biopsy for December 17. The reason why is, if you were my sister I would want you to have the best doctors who specialize in breast cancer. Not that I don’t think the base doctors are great. I just would want the best for my love one. So I’ve already put in a referral for you to see the best breast surgeon I know. I want you to prepare yourself for the worse. Learn what the next steps are that follow after cancer has been confirmed. This way it doesn’t come as a shock. Do you have any questions for me?” Do they really think you’re going to be thinking in your right mind, when they say a mouthful like that???? I reply, “No I’m fine.” Every man out there knows, when a woman says, I”M FINE. They really mean they’re not.

When you’re told, to “expect the WORST” it can play with your mind if YOU allow it. I’ve chosen not to. I am NOT A QUITTER!!!! I believe that for some reason this is all a big mistake. I’m not delusional, I’m a realist. I believe machine can make mistakes and so can people.

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6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Esther’s Journal – Mammogram I

  1. I love the way you write Mom. Thank you for creating this and letting us into your world. When Joanna wrote, “I think one difference is that when you’re telling us what’s going on, we respond kind of like you do to the dr. Say ok and process later.” that is so true for me. All of this is very shocking and hard to chew. Last time we texted I wrote for you to remember that God is with you, right by your side and you wrote back ” I KNOW HE IS!” Your spunk made me laugh and put a big smile on my face. Sometimes when darkness comes it’s hard to remember that we were once bathed in the sunny warm light, but remember to stand firm and upright with your face pointed towards the sky because one day the dark will clear and the sun will shine again.

  2. My beautiful sister My Prayers are with you. I am going to believe that the Lord is not done with you here on earth and all will be ok. I hope you will keep me in the loop and up to speed. I know you and you are a good person but let those around you help you. I Love You.
    Pat

  3. Dear Esther,
    After reading your blog, my heart sank. Please, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Please keep us informed and if there is anything you need from your Tucson family please do not hesitate to let us know. Our heart goes out to you and Larry and we want to be there for you.
    Dale and Carol Wilson

  4. Dear Esther, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can relate about the boob smashing, those were my exact words about the pancakes, when I get my done. If men can only relate to that… HA HA… You have been such an inspiration to all who know and love you. You have been through so much with Olga with her health issues and you were there for her. May God Bless both of you as you journey through this. Just know you are not alone. We all will be praying for you and Olga… Keep smiling that beautiful smile of yours. I can’t believe you have been married 37 yrs. We go back before all of that. Take Care of yourself my friend.

  5. Jen’s right. It’s different to read, step by step like that. I think one difference is that when you’re telling us what’s going on, we respond kind of like you do to the dr. Say ok and process later. But when I read it, from your point of view, story version, I can sit and process it. It sinks in a little deeper. This is no doubt scary for you and the rest of us. I know the worst part right now is waiting! We’ll hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Love you mommy.

  6. I’m at a loss for words even though I already knew the news. Its way different to read the blow by blow for some reason. When is the new appointment?

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