This past April I had my very first mammogram, and it went like this.
- Got a mammogram (not a big deal at all).
- Got a call back – you have dense breast tissue. Don’t worry – lots of women have it (including many of my girlfriends), but you’ll have to come back for a diagnostic mammogram, and if that shows something, then an ultrasound.
- I got the diagnostic mammogram, and the technician immediately got serious and said, “You’re definitely going to need an ultrasound.”
- I went across the hall for an ultrasound… and encountered another tech who looked very concerned.
- The radiologist came in and confirmed there was an issue – she told me I’d need a biopsy.
- I had to wait 10 days for that biopsy. Waiting is the worst.
- I had one panic attack / day of crying before the biopsy. It’s scary to think about the possibility of cancer. But I also experienced the nearness of the Lord during that 10-day wait. It was sweet. (I’m a big believer you can have faith AND panic attacks.)
- I got the biopsy (wasn’t bad at all). My sis came with me to keep me company. I’m also a big believer in saying yes if someone says they’ll come sit with you during something scary. I wanted to say “I’ll be fine on my own” but saying yes made it much better.
- Four days later, I got the call. Not cancer, but a radial scar. It would require surgery to remove it.
- Saw my surgeon – an old friend from my 10 years working at a hospital. It’s so nice when your surgeon starts your appointment with a big hug and asking to see pics of your kids.
- A few weeks later, I had a Savi Scout inserted into the problematic spot. It was the least fun part of this journey so far – imagine having a 30-minute mammogram (yes – it lasted FOREVER and I couldn’t move at all), where during it a doctor inserts a large needle into your breast and shoots a titanium reflector that will later emit non-radioactive radar waves to help the surgeon find the exact spot to remove. It’s so science fiction, but it should help the surgery to be more successful. I survived, but apparently I also bled all over the floor (I closed my eyes because I don’t do blood). And for a month I’ve joked that I have a bionic boob.
- On Friday, I’ll have laparoscopic surgery to remove the problematic tissue (it’s not a lumpectomy, but apparently somewhat similar), and then they’ll do additional testing to confirm that no cancer is hiding in there. My surgeon has assured me that while it’s a slight possibility there could be cancer, it’s very rare at this point. I’m not worried a bit.
I wanted to share my story because I think it’s helpful for several reasons:
- I have no family history of breast cancer (except for one relative who had it in her 80s) and wasn’t expecting anything to show up on my mammogram. Girlfriends… get your mammogram. It’s better to find out sooner that there’s a problem.
- I think it’s important to share your journey, because others are walking similar ones. It’s helpful to know you’re not alone. If you, someday, have to endure the long wait after a breast biopsy, or have to get a bionic boob like me, you’ll know you can reach out to someone else who has been there.
- It’s another reminder that God is good in the mist of hard things. God is worth praising after a cancer-free diagnosis. He’s also worth praising if my diagnosis had been cancer. He’s worth praising as I wait for test results, and as I recover from surgery. He is worth trusting with my kids and husband as I faced scary thoughts of a worst-case scenario. He loved me as I had a panic attack. He loved me as I bravely faced each doctor appointment (so many appointments). God is right here, in the midst of the hard, and he is good.
- You know who else is good? The tribe God has placed around me, who has prayed for me over these past three months as I went to every doctor appointment and every procedure (by my count, eight appointments by the time we’re all done). My tribe is fierce and wonderful and scattered across the US.
I’d love your prayers as I go in for surgery on Friday. And maybe some recommendations on what show I should binge-watch as I recover.