Chances are good that I am cancer free today.
The day before Thanksgiving I had a mammogram at Milton Hospital and a week later I got a letter in the mail, saying it was questionable and they would like to have me come back and let them do it again.
I am actively involved in my healthcare decisions so I said no. My thought was I needed a better radiologist to look at my films. I knew they hadn’t even compared the film with the digital mammogram I had done in 2009 at Carney Hospital and I also knew that I have a series of calcium deposits that mammograms have pictured for more than 20 years.
And of course I was in denial that anything could be wrong with me.
So much for my medical expertise.
I called my primary care doctor’s office and asked for a second opinion. I was sure I was fine.
It took a while but I got an appointment at the Sager Breast Centre at Faulkner Hospital. The delay wasn’t at Faulkner. It came from following all the procedures to line up the appointment.
I gathered my mammogram films from the radiology department at each hospital. Spoke with my insurance company and got a letter from my doctor’s office saying what the insurance person told me were the right words.
January 10 I went for my appointment with a radiologist who was supposed to tell me the other doctor made a mistake. She didn’t say that.
What she did say blurred my brain. I had a mammogram that day and a breast ultrasound and a core needle biopsy. It happened so quickly I couldn’t think. She did tell me I could come back another day for the biopsy – which I knew would hurt as they only give a local anesthetic.
I didn’t want to think – I wanted it done – so they could say I was fine.
The call the next day gave me a headache – I wasn’t fine. It was cancer.
And then the skies poured snow onto the roads and rooftops for two days.
Still I began studying my options, talking with other Pink Ladies, probing into what they had done and how much it hurt.
I am a sissy about pain.
So how was it that I chose the bilateral approach?
I think I made a final decision when my surgeon, a gentle caring woman, Dr. Margaret Lawler, said the usual protocol after a lumpectomy is radiation and chemotherapy. She said after a mastectomy, if there was no cancer in my lymph glands, there would be no need for radiation and little likelihood of chemotherapy.
She told me more but I’m sticking to the point.
My grandmother, Winnifred Donohue, had a double mastectomy when she was a young woman. She died more than 40 years after the surgery. She’s my role model.
Tonight I’m at home on pain killers and large doses of loving kindness.
Oh, there was no sign of cancer in my lymph glands.
I hurt a little bit, nothing like what I feared.
Each time I dose off I wake a little more comfortable in my body.
I have been amazed at the support I’m receiving. Very grateful.