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Monday, October 6, 2014

The breast biopsy

So, now we're up to the point where I go in to have a breast biopsy.  This was done on July 16th in Springfield at the Breast Center.  This is a wonderful facility with very caring people.  The hubby went with me for moral support.  He just had wait behind in the waiting room.  When I first arrived, there was a lot of paperwork to be filled out as I had never been a patient there before.  And of course, I forgot my insurance card.  Let's just say that my mind was a little boggled.  The receptionist was very forgiving and told me that I could email it to her.  After doing all the paper work and getting registered, I was directed to the main waiting room where a few other women waited, but mostly men.  A short while later, I was summoned along with another woman and told to follow them.  We crossed the hall and went through a door that was marked, "Authorized Personell Only".  Guess I was authorized.  The nurse took us to dressing rooms and I was told to dis-robe from the waist up and don one of their form fitting gowns.  I then locked up my clothes and purse in a locker and headed toward the next waiting room.   In this room were about 20 women of varying ages.  Some were there just for their mammograms but other were there for more serious things.  Women came and went.  When some left, they later returned.  As I would later find out why.   Then came my turn and I was called.  I was taken for another mammogram.  Geesh....hadn't I had several of those already?  Then I was taken back to the waiting room.   A little later I was summoned once again, only this time it was for an ultra sound.  The technician was very pleasant, but all during the time they're looking at your breast with their device, you want to ask them what they see.  Not only did she examin the breast but she also slid the  transducer  up to my arm pit.  I'm just praying then that nothing had spread to my lymph nodes if there even was anything.  At this point I'm still thinking that I'll have a negative or benign biopsy.  Remember,  I read that 80% of biopsies come back negative.  After the ultra sound, I was once again returned to the waiting room.  Now there were fewer women in the room than before.  Maybe they were getting caught up and cycling the gals through.  Next a nurse comes through, calls my name and goes to a glass enclosed conference room.  She takes my vitals and proceeds to want to make an appointment for me on Friday to come back in to get my biopsy results and schedule an MRI at that time.  My head began to spin as she was insinuating that the biopsy was going to come back positive for a malignancy!  I just wasn't ready for that!  I'm still thinking positive!  The nurse was very understanding and told me that she could call me with the results instead.  Much better.   When we were finished she took me back to a room with an exam/procedure table.  There was also an ultra sound machine and several other technical devices in the room.  I was helped onto the table and the technician began prepping and draping my right breast.  A wedge was placed beneath my right shoulder blade to project my breast more.  After the betadine and drapes, a sandwich baggie full of crushed ice was placed on my breast and I was told not to touch it, no matter what.  This was done, I was told, to reduce the blood flow during the procedure.  It also would help when the Dr. numbed it up.  A short while later the Dr. came in and introduced herself and told me what would be happening.  I will have to say that they answered any questions that I came up with.  I wanted to see the device that they would be using to take samples of the lump in my breast.  When it was time to begin, they removed the ice and the Dr. used a short needle to numb my breast in several places.  Then she asked for the next injection and I shouldn't have looked, but I saw that needle and I got a little anxious, but it didn't hurt as the other anesthetic had already taken effect.  The Dr. then made a small incision on the side of my breast to be able to insert the device to take samples.  She then used the transducer and ultrasound to find the suspicious lump and take 3 samples to send to pathology.  Each time there was a snapping sound as the device extended and bit a small sample.  Each time her assistant put the specimen on a slide.  She asked me once if I wanted to see that, but I declined.  Shortly after, we were done.  I was cleaned by the tech and laid there a short while before a nurse came in.  She helped me to sit up and get to the chair where she bandaged my incision and bound my chest with a large ace bandage.  Next came my bra to hold an ice pack on the injured breast.  I then donned my shirt (wished I'd worn a larger one) and buttoned it back up.  I was then counseled on what to expect over the next 24 hours and how to care for myself.   Once again, a great nurse who was very caring.  I was escorted back out to my waiting husband and we left the facility.  We had a little shopping to do while in town.  I felt fine, but looked a little lopsided as the right breast was packed with the ice bag.  I had to keep it iced for the next several hours and had to keep the binding on for 12 hours to keep the swelling down.  The next day I was pretty good and could shower later that day.  Little did I know that injury to the breast was just the beginnning.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Let me first begin by asking if you do your self checks of your breasts?  If you don't......start immediately.  I have encountered so many women who are too young to begin their mammograms that have BREAST CANCER!!!   You have got to be pro-active.  Know your body.  If you have any susupicion of an abnormal lump or bump...SEE YOUR DOCTOR!!!  I can't emphasize this enough!!

As for my own journey.....I had been fairly regular with the mammograms.  Recently I had heard that we can begin skipping a year if we've had normal readings.  I did not get one last year.  Now I wish I hadn't skipped.  I had noticed a lump on the outer right quandrant of my right breast.  Our local (1.5 hrs away) mobile mammography unit was scheduled to be in our are on June 9th and I promptly made an appointment.  I kept the appointment and had the usual x-ray.  Nothing different.  Just a little concerned and anxious to hear the results like....all clear just fibrosis.  Usually a letter is sent, but nothing.  During this time we had left and took a little vacation out to Ogalala, Nebraska.  I received a phone call from my regular physician telling me that I needed to go back and get a diagnostic mammogram and possibly and ultra-sound.  I scheduled that to happen as soon as we got home.  So we're talking about 2 weeks of time here.  At the next appointment, after the mammogram had been read, a tech came and told me that he'd be doing an ultra sound.  We did that and he took it to the Dr. to be read.  He came back and I asked him what they thought.  He said they thought it should come right out.  He never said the word cancer, but that's what immediately popped into my head.  Ok...time to jump into overdrive and get things taken care of.  By the time I got home a couple of hours later, my Dr. had called to tell me that she was referring me to a breast surgeon.  Doom and gloom. now what?  How do we get those films from one location to the other.  We're talking a distance of about 3 hours.  Mountain Home, AR to Springfield, MO.   They were going to MAIL them....yikes!   Do they know how long it takes to get things mailed??   I called them and told them I'd be picking them up the next day and hand delivering them to the breast surgeon.  We went and picked them up.  On the ride up, being the curious little thing that I am, in the disk envelope was a folded up piece of paper.  I pulled it out and it was the radialogists reading of my mammogram and ultra sound.  The words "highly suspect malignancy" jumped out at me.  They should have just as well be in bold.  It's a good thing the hubby was driving because I would have crashed.  Tears flooded from my eyes as I realized I was dealing with something I had never delt with before and had no idea what to do!!!   I've always been pretty much in control of everything in my life and been able to take care of things.   I just didn't know what to do!

So now we wait.  The breast surgeon has the films.  I call his office to see if they have looked at them yet and made any detemination.  The films have to be uploaded into their system and a radialogist has to look at them.   Too much time.  Bless all those nurses hearts for answering my questions and phone calls!  Finally a nurse from the Breast Care Center calls and tells me I'm scheduled the next Wednesday for a breast biopsy.  Well....we're finally getting some things done!  I'm feeling a little better.  So now what do we do...we research.   We all have the world wide web (www) at our fingertips and we research when we want to know something.  Well, 80% of the breast biopsies done are benign......yippee!   I want to be in that group.  So, for now, I'll stop here.  I need to take a break and so do you to go check your breasts!!!