Sunday, July 7, 2013
Mammograms, Ultrasounds, Biopsies.... Oh My!
Life, as we all know, is a journey. We have a plethora of choices along the way including how we react to what goes on around us and what is happening to us. No one should make these decisions for us. Friends can give input, spouses offer their suggestions, and loved ones can give advice based on personal experience, but ultimately, it is our job to take all of these offerings, consider them based on our own beliefs and make a decision for ourselves. It doesn't guarantee that all choices will be easy. I find it to be quite the opposite sometimes and yet there are times when I know without a doubt that a specific action is what is required of me. Boy I sure wish there were more of the moments of feeling certain. At this point in my pink journey, I have had a mammogram, ultrasounds, a biopsy, CAT scans, MRI's, bone scans, echocardiograms, an adequate lumpectomy and 9 lymph nodes removed, a port installed, 4 rounds of AC chemo, and 5 infusions of Taxol and Herceptin .... for all my HomeConnection buddies, hear me when I shout, I am now "Highly Qualified" to give a few pointers to anyone who may be chosen to follow in my size 10 footsteps. I will try to keep them shorter and easily identifiable. Always feel free to contact me with questions regarding anything I post. I love me a good question. Any tip or suggestion I post has been run through my oncologist and medical team. These aren't my attempts to discover a new method to treat symptoms rather they are things that have worked for me. 1 I will start with the lecture on getting your mammograms. GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS! There you have it! Go get your mammogram!!! Need I say more? Yes, I do need to say more, because really you should begin this process even earlier by constantly groping yourself in the shower. Get very familiar with what normal is for you and your breast tissue. Not all tissue is created equally. Believe me I know. I was fortunate to discover the lump myself, called the doctor and then, the whole process began. Self exams are easy and don't have to be official. Just get in there and get squishin! This is a great way to stay on top of things and be proactive. All women should have a mammogram when they turn 40 and if you have a family history, then get yourself in for the boob sandwich even earlier. It is really not nearly as bad as you have heard from your crazy drama queen friends. Yes, I am talking about "her". We all have one. One that describes the common cold as a near death experience. And "if" it is a horrible experience and they find nothing, great! The worst is over and you have gained some peace of mind. "If" they find something then, good, you now know there is an issue that needs a little more of your undivided attention. Now you can deal with it by scheduling the next steps. And as hard as this is to do, try not to worry about things. The waiting can be one of the hardest parts. Find a good distraction to pass the time, like Blizzards. You didn't really think there would be a post where Blizzards didn't get brought up did you? The next step following an abnormal mammogram is often an ultrasound. The best advice I can give here is do NOT attempt to read either the images on the screen or the technicians face. Instead, take some deep breaths and look for your own pictures in the ink blots on the screen. Who knows you might see the Eiffel Tower, the Great Sphinx, or Michael Jackson! Attempting to self diagnose really isn't helpful. Suck it up and wait til the Dr. gets in to tell you what they see. If this comes back abnormal, you may be asked to have a biopsy. This sounded scary to me because I didn't understand the procedure. They use a small needle to numb up the area before entering with a very tiny probe. The end of the probe has a little slice and dice pie cutter and takes a small wedge of tissue. It can be a bit bothersome when you hear the crunch of the little probe, but actually it is fast and minimally painful. I felt more of a pressure than any real pain. They give you a cute little round ice pack. Keep it!. It is a great size for everything. Keep the ice compress on for a little while and you'll be back to business in no time. Again, the most difficult part of these procedures is the waiting. Keep doing the things you enjoy. Process information as it comes and not before. Ask for help when you need it. Gather strength from your friends and family and stay in the game.