Today was the day for a mammogram and ultrasound…the day to get some answers about the bump that caught me by complete and utter surprise yesterday morning as I laid snuggling in bed with my youngest. At 31 I had never had a mammogram before and I was nervous about the procedure as well as the answers that it could lead to. Thankfully I received an enormous amount of support after my blog post last night and it helped to give me strength. I received countless messages, comments, friends sharing my story and asking for prayers…as I said yesterday, I believe in the power of prayer and your prayers carried me through today.
Back to the mammogram…a friend had advised me to take a couple of Tylenol beforehand to offset the discomfort of the test…I had no idea what to expect. A bundle of nerves, I was relieved to find not one, but two friends, waiting for me at the registration desk. I registered and made my way to the Women’s Center. There I dressed in the lovely hospital gown (at Jace’s tonsillectomy the week before a nurse referred to the gown as the “Dr. Seymour Butts Gown”…I liked that. I’m easily entertained.). Within ten minutes I was escorted to a room and had my very first mammogram. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t as awful as I had feared. Awkward…a little. Painful…not at all. Also, word of advice, you can’t wear deodorant when you have a mammogram. Sometimes being a woman is so weird.
From there I waited in the waiting room for a few more minutes before it was time for the ultrasound. That procedure took a total of five minutes and the doctor came in shortly from there. From entering the hospital doors, registering, having a mammogram, having an ultrasound, the whole ordeal took less than an hour. The doctor read my tests and explained to me that he believed (and please forgive my lack of medical knowledge…I interpreted the best I could) that the lump in my breast was a tumor (not the word he used). He could not be sure if it is malignant or benign. He explained that he had a two percent leeway to make his assessment. If the tumor had characteristics that cause it to fall between the 0% – 2% range, he could assess that the tumor is benign and no other action would be necessary. Unfortunately, my tumor has some abnormal characteristics. He assured me that the likelihood of the tumor being malignant is still very low (he placed me at the 5% range) but he could not be sure without performing a biopsy.
I was left to dress and then met the nurse to make an appointment for the biopsy. She explained that during the biopsy the doctor would give me a shot for general anesthesia that would numb my entire breast. From there he would make a tiny incision and insert a needle to remove samples of the tumor to send for further testing. The doctor would receive my results back within 24-48 hours and would have me come into the office to talk through the results, as well as to check my incision. She pulled up the calendar and found that the nearest appointment was on the 30th…eight days away.
I left the office feeling a little deflated. I was thankful for that the tumor was most likely benign but still uneasy to not know for sure. I also couldn’t imagine waiting eight days to have the biopsy and then an additional one to two days to learn the results. I realize this is the experience for most people…the waiting. My heart aches for them. I’m not sure that there is much worse than not knowing. I headed home and made a few phone calls to give updates to my family. I choked back tears thinking of going through Easter egg hunts, church services, work days with this heavy burden on my heart.
I was still processing my morning and allowing the events of the past 24 hours to sink in when my phone rang. It was the hospital. They had a cancellation…it was about 11:30 in the morning and they could take me today at 1:15. This is a miracle in my mind and soul. I didn’t expect or dream that this would happen although I prayed for it, and to my awe and surprise, my wait was over. Eight days were turned into an hour and a half. Isn’t that amazing??? I was in awe. I called my sister and asked if she could come with me. And as always, she didn’t miss a beat. There was no question…she was by my side. My Pastor also stayed with me through this entire ordeal. I feel so blessed to have so much support.
The nurse had warned me that the numbing shot for the biopsy would be painful. She actually repeated that sentiment several, SEVERAL times. I went in anticipating a painful experience and to my surprise…it wasn’t bad. That’s all I can say about it. It isn’t the most pleasant experience…I don’t care to do it again…but all in all, it wasn’t bad. After making the incision, the doctor placed the long, needle-like instrument into my breast. I could watch on the ultrasound as he prodded the mass in my body. He warned me that I would hear and feel a pop and sure enough, there was a pop. I don’t know for sure but I imagine it is like when you get your finger pricked and the little needle explodes from the plastic to pierce through your skin quickly. After the pop, he would draw out the instrument, remove the sample and then go through the process again. We did this a total of four to six times. And then it was done. The nurse applied pressure to my incision for fifteen minutes, dressed the wound and I was able to get put my clothes on and head home.
Hopefully, the results will be in by noon tomorrow. If the results come in, I will return to the hospital between 1:00 – 3:00 tomorrow and learn what my results are. At the absolute latest, the results will be in on Thursday. Either way, good news or bad, I will know an answer for certain by the end of this week. I can’t exercise for 48-72 hours. I can’t take any aspirin, blood thinners or ginkgo biloba. I can’t lift more than 10 pounds. But that’s it. At this point that is the only fall-out from the bump that turned my week on it’s head. I can handle all of that. I can be grateful that there will be an answer…and hopefully one that says that I am cancer-free.
I still can’t believe the past two days have even happened…they have been bizarre and blessed and unreal all at the same time. I have felt every range of emotion…fear, sadness, nervousness and anxiousness, happiness and excitement, worry, stress, thankfulness. The past two days have been everything…every single thing. But what stands out the most to me is the kindness. I have been shown so much love and kindness over the past two days that I am astounded. I have received messages, prayers, surprise visitors and friends that wouldn’t allow me to do this alone. I have been given support from those that are closest to me and old friends alike…from those that know me well and those that have only known me a short while. The nurses and the doctor were nothing short of amazing and gracious. They were understanding and patient. And above all other amazing happenings the past two days, when I received the call that said I could have the biopsy today…eight days before the next opening…I saw all of the prayers come into fruition. I can’t say thank you enough to those of you who took the time to mention me in your prayers. It is so powerful. So thank you. Thank you so much.
I hope to have an answer tomorrow and will update when I do. Tonight I am thankful for God and his graciousness. Today could have gone much differently but tonight I feel I can go to sleep with some peace. The tests are done. What will be will be. Now I wait on results. I have nothing but hope and optimism for what tomorrow will bring.