Breast, Breast cancer, Breast cancer screening, Cancer, Health, Mammography, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
I had every intention of writing something lighthearted for this, my last daily post as part of BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo challenge. But my heart isn’t feeling all that light right now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about living daily life and writing, it’s this: I can’t fake it. This afternoon, a friend is accompanying me while I undergo a screening mammogram.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a screening mammogram is like needing to have your senior pictures retaken because they turned out so awful the first time. Earlier this month, I had my routine annual mammogram. And for the second year in a row, I received a call several days later informing me that the radiologist wanted a “do-over.” Something on the film of my right breast looked—what was the word I heard when the technician called me?—suspicious? Unusual? I can’t remember. I stopped listening clearly shortly after she identified herself on the phone. Panic, I suppose.
My adventures in good health and otherwise are long and complicated—far too complicated for a single post—so for now I’ll focus only on this new development. Last year, I was relieved when the films came back negative. This year, I’m hoping for the same result. I had no symptoms then, and I have none now, other than the usual annoyance of fibrocystic disease, which was diagnosed when I was in my twenties.
Regardless of today’s outcome, I’ve decided that I will share the experience on my blog. Why? Two reasons, mostly. First, because breast cancer is probably the top rung of the worry ladder for millions of women. Estimates for 2011 from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health predict that there will be 230,480 new cases of breast cancer among women; 2,140 among men. (Yes, men can get breast cancer, too.) Deaths this year are estimated at 39,520 for women, and 450 for men.
Second, I believe that it’s in your best interest to have useful and important information, so I’ll be telling more of my story in future posts. If telling my story prompts someone to get to the doctor for a long overdue visit, or to begin to take seriously the reminders to perform self-examinations each month, then that’s a good thing.
My own history is such that it necessitated regular mammograms at an age earlier than what is considered the norm, despite the fact that neither my mother nor her sister ever developed the disease. (I’m an only child, so as canaries in the mine go, I’m it.)
You would think I’d be used to all this rigmarole by now, but I’m not. I’m a bit apprehensive today, and that’s normal.
Here’s hoping my films will be normal, too.
And you out there. Yes, you. The one reading this and thinking, “You know, I guess I should call and schedule my appointment, but I’m just so busy right now…”
Guess what? You’ll always be busy. Don’t panic, but please make time for this; it’s important.
This has been a public service announcement from The Midlife Second Wife.
A good public service announcement, indeed. Having worked for a major cancer center, I want to add that breast cancer can also come from the paternal side of the family, so consider the heath history of both of your grandmothers and all aunts. Also, the average age of diagnosis of breast cancer is 65. Surprising, huh? That means that mid-lifers have to make sure their mothers are still getting mammograms!
Interesting! I wasn’t aware of the paternal link. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion, Andrea!
Susan Schwartz said:
Good luck today. I had this happen just once years ago and all was well. But it was a very scary time and the wait was forever (really only a couple of days). I’ll be eager to hear the results and offer my support however you need it!
Breathe deep and relax. We are here for you.
Thanks so much, Susan. This is a comfort!
John Rich said:
And I so wish it could be I who was accompanying you today. You know that the midlife second husband is with you in spirit and love. That you have been through so many medical tribulations in your life and your have the courage to share them with your readers as a means of encouraging them to take care of themselves is extraordinary. But that is just one reason that I fell in love with you.
I know, my love. Thank you for this. I love you, even if what you write sometimes makes me cry (in a good way, but still…). Travel safely, and please come home safe to me. xoxom
Debby Baron said:
Good luck today, and please do post the results. A dear friend of ours went through treatment for breast cancer six years ago, was told she was cancer free at five years, and now has a metastasis on her spine. Fellow readers, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. And listen to your bodies when you feel like something just doesn’t seem right. Thank you, Marci, for this reminder.
Debby, thanks so much for sharing the story about your friend. I’ll keep her in my thoughts and prayers. Your advice that we all “listen to our bodies when we feel something just doesn’t seem right” is exactly right; pain (discomfort, even) is nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong. That mantra rang through my head years ago, a story I’ll tell another time.
Sherry Lohman said:
Marci, you are doing exactly what you are supposed to do! Yearly check ups and follow ups if something doesn’t look right. This way if there is a slight problem it’s taken care of right away. Those what I call “party critters” like ladies who don’t pay attention and try to ignore what could possibly be happening. You have my best wishes and are in my prayers today.
Mandy Andrew Sellers said:
As an avid participant in the Komen 3-day walks, I applaud your post! And as a blogger I applaud you going with your gut about what to write. Just yesterday I went to the doctor for something suspicious in my breast and I’m so relieved I did. While I didn’t get a final result, I feel better at least knowing what I found out, as hiding from the truth is no more useful then sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling LA LA LA at the top of my lungs. Good for you for doing the same!
Thanks so much for writing, Mandy. And thanks for reading the blog. I hope that your “final result” is a good one.
Lynne Marshall said:
So sorry you are having to go through this. For future reference, I know of a great radiologist, Ellen Paredes, who has a large imaging center, located in Innsbrook, and you can ask to have your films read by her while you are there so if you need additional ones you can have them taken then and not have to go through the waiting for a post card or a phone call with your results. Thinking good thoughts for you!
Thanks very much, Lynne. Actually, my appointment yesterday was with Dr. Paredes’ imaging center; I was referred by my gynecologist.
And I did get the results immediately; just exhausted from the ordeal. I plan to post an update tomorrow. Really appreciate your concern…thanks again!!
Michelle flanagan said:
My dear old (years of knowing you and not in chronology) – know that all will be
All will be well Marci.
Pingback: How Do I Spell Relief? S-T-A-B-L-E « The Midlife Second Wife ™