My First Mammogram Didn’t Go As Expected…
Turning 40 is So Fun!
I turned the big 4-0 this year. When I celebrated my birthday back in January, I didn’t think much would change. But, I quickly found out that my body has some sort of internal clock and the alarm went off! The grey hairs were the first to take up residence, just living their best lives rent-free on my head. Not a huge deal. Then I had to start visiting my chiropractor more for hip problems.
It’s fine. I'm fine. WE'RE ALL FINE!
But then this summer, my OBGYN informed me that I was due for my very first mammogram! Oh boy. Forty is so fun!
Scheduling the Appointment
With breast cancer history in my close family, I knew that this wasn’t something I should blow off. (Don’t blow it off even if you don’t have a family member who passed of breast cancer, mmmk?) Now I don’t know about you but unless something is actively making life unbearable for me, I tend to forget and maybe even sometimes put off making medical appointments. But thankfully, my OBGYN’s office put in the order and the Ascension St. Vincent Breast Center called me to schedule my mammogram. Well, that was easy! They had lots of appointment times and were very flexible. I chose a Friday morning at the new Newburgh office. I planned on being in and out in about an hour... Well, things didn't go as planned.
Friday: My First Mammogram (and MORE!)
When I went in, they had me sign one sheet of paper and asked for my insurance card. And that was it! I hate filling out paperwork that I feel like they already have in their system, don’t you? Then I took a seat where there was a nice view of the zen garden.
I was called back within just a few moments. The medical assistant asked me to take off my shirt and bra, wipe off any deodorant, put on the nice comfy robe they provided, and lock my things in a locker. (Fyi: Robe > Hospital Gown)
Then I went and sat in the “robed lounge.” The atmosphere was spa-like and quite comfortable. I put my feet up on one of the ottomans and browsed my phone until my name was called.
What was the Mammogram Like?
I had my first mammogram. Now, I’m not here to tell you that it was super fun and an enjoyable experience because it was not. You are smashed up against a machine and your boob is pancaked in between two paddles that hold you flat while the machine takes photos of the inside of your breast. But I wasn’t stressed out or scared because my technician explained the entire process to me upfront. She took the time to show me what was going to happen, explained what I was going to feel, and answered my questions. And she was incredibly gentle with my girls.
After the Mammograpm, Things Got Dicey
After the mammogram, I went and sat back in the lounge. I didn’t know it, but the radiologist was on-site and viewing images while patients waited. It wasn’t long before I was asked to come back again. There was a spot that he felt needed a second mammogram. This time, a tech named Kelly performed my mammogram. Kelly and I had a great time chatting. She again explained everything and was very gentle.
After a brief wait, I was called back again for an ultrasound. Kelly explained that the spot he was having trouble seeing was showing an abnormality that they needed additional imaging on. Kelly did two ultrasounds on the spot and then it was time for me to talk to the doctor. He showed me the ultrasound images and explained why the abnormality was concerning him. He showed me the image of a cyst I had. It was oval-shaped and totally black. This spot was fuzzy white in the middle and irregular-shaped. It also had waves underneath it which indicated that it was a solid mass and not fluid-filled like the cyst.
At this point, my happy-to-lucky demeanor changed. It set in that we were talking about possible cancer. But the doctor assured me that even if the mass was cancerous, it was incredibly small. He also explained my next steps. My mind started spinning and I was trying really hard to process everything. Thankfully, they told me to just wait in the office and someone would come in and get me scheduled for my next procedure – a biopsy.
A lovely young woman came in. We chatted a little and she gave me some times the following week that were available. I chose Friday again but she explained that the results take 24-72 hours without the weekend. I came to my senses and booked the first appointment they had which was only four days later. I was surprised to learn that not all areas offer biopsies this quickly. Some women wait months! Can you imagine how stressful that would be?
Tuesday: The Biopsy
Fast-forward to 7:45 AM yesterday. I arrived and got my robe on. Kelly once again took me back and fully explained the biopsy procedure. We even had a few laughs about our husbands while we waited for the doctor. It wasn't even weird that we yucked it up while I was laying there topless!
I was ready to get it over with to see what next steps I had ahead of me. St. Vincent’s Breast Center issues ultrasound-guided biopsies so they can pinpoint exactly where they need to go in. They started the ultrasound and the doctor looked for the mass. But then something incredible happened. When he found it, he noticed that it was far less pronounced than it was only four days earlier. In fact, it was almost undetectable. I credit it to the power of prayer and the amazing feats of the human body! He sent me with Kelly to use a different type of ultrasound to confirm his findings that the mass was shrinking. Through the process, she showed me on the monitor what they were both seeing. It's really nice when they talk to you as a patient and not just about you.
Official diagnoses: Benign Mass! Praise Jesus!
Thankfully, I had a benign mass that my body began to absorb.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait and worry for months to find this out.
Thankfully, the technology is available that can detect even minuscule threats and give me the best chance if any invasive abnormalities pop up.
But Just to Make Sure... Another Ultrasound (in a couple of months)
My appointment was completed when Kelly set me up with a follow-up ultrasound just to make sure the mass hasn’t changed and I haven’t sprung any new lumps or bumps.
Book Your Mammogram Today, MMMMK?
I didn’t know what to expect for my first mammogram. It was dramatic, to say the least. But the staff at Ascension St. Vincent Breast Center Mammography in Newburgh was fantastic. Even if you don't go to St. Vincent, if you are a woman who is 40+, don’t blow it off! Schedule somewhere today! Heck, they even have mobile mammography units that will come to you! How cool is that?
According to cancer.org, about 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 43,250 women will die from breast cancer each year. Early detection is key to the best outcomes!