I'm a LIVESTRONG Leader with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, so the notion of awareness and the importance of early detection is not new with me. Knowing what you went through, reinforced this. Last month, after watching a re-run of "The Nanny," I was reminded of your story and message, and decided that I was going to have a digital mammogram done at lunch at the free Health Fair that my office building's landlord was offering. Now, I'd just been at my OB/GYN, and I was not yet 37, and she said a mammo wasn't necessary because I was so young, but I figured, in good Jewish thinking, "Meh! It's free, so why not?"
I went in for the digital mammogram, and they said everything looked ok, but I'd get the final word in a week or so - just in time for my 37th birthday. I proudly Tweeted that I just had my first mammogram, I wasn't yet 40, but that I was doing it to establish a baseline - yay, preventative measures.
Like clockwork, I received the letter from the hospital for the final word. Only, it didn't support the initial reading. They wanted me to come back for an ultra-sound and a more substantial mammogram. I panicked and called them. I was told because I had dense breast tissue, they just wanted to make sure. Knowing, after all, I'm a LIVESTRONG Leader, that more often than not, you're given calming news when they sense you're anxious, I told them I wanted to know the truth, not just a white-washed version to make me feel better. "Nope, not to worry - you're young, so it's probably nothing - just precautionary."
I was still skeptical - again, maybe it's the Jewish New Yorker in me - so I contacted LIVESTRONG just in case for some additional support. I was given a Nurse Navigator who verified it's likely nothing, pretty routine, and more often than not, it ends up being nothing.
I went to my follow up, and the mammogram was first. It was more than uncomfortable, but quick, and the technician didn't seem to gasp or show any concern, so I felt confident. I then went onto the sonogram. First, the left breast, and while it took a while, there were not indications that the technician was doing anything outside of routine.
But then the sonogram continued on the right. More and more pauses were taken, and re-swipes of the wand. I tried to watch the screen, and out of the corner of my eye, I see her changing from the regular sonogram to the blood flow screen, and I see something weird. And the panic set in. The technician says she wants to go over the results with the radiologist and I was left alone for maybe 5 minutes - though it seemed like an hour. I had left my cell phone with my friend in the lobby, whom I wanted to call while I waited to ease the tension. The technician returns and says that there is something in my right breast that they want to biopsy.
I shut off. I didn't break down, I mean I just shut off. Here I am, LIVESTRONG Leader, knowing that knowledge is power, I need to ask questions, I need to be aware, I need to be conscious of what's going on - and I'm blank. I'm not sure how I got back out to the lobby to my friend, but I must have gotten dressed and met him. I told him, in Hebrew (as I didn't want others to hear) that they found something and there would be further tests. We met with the Nurse Navigator at the hospital and they explained there was suspicious calcification in the right breast, though, I was assured, even if the biopsy showed malignancy, it is likely so early on that removal of the calcification and affected tissue may be it.
My biopsy is scheduled for July 14, and I'm still terrified of cancer, etc. BUT, can you imagine if I hadn't decided to get that freebie mammogram? Can you imagine if I'd blown it off?
I don't know if it's Cancer of Schmancer. And while I am hardly "grateful" that the test results are what they are to date, I am grateful that seeing you on TV, along with my yellow wristband, made me say to myself, "What the hell? Just do it."
Hopefully, I'll be reporting a happy ending in a month.