The importance of Mammograms


Long, but worth reading. Please……

I just wanted to remind all my female friends about the extreme importance of getting your yearly mammograms done on time, no excuses! Also, make sure your female friends, relatives and loved ones do not procrastinate! Or, you guys, if you think there is an issue with yourself, get it checked. Guys can get breast cancer too!

We all know they are important, you are probably even saying to yourself that this is not new information and who doesn’t know this already?! Society is practically beating us over the head with Breast Cancer awareness. That is true, but for good reason. This is a story that I learned recently regarding why I wanted to stress the importance of mammograms!

Every May, she always has her annual routine mammo done. Like clockwork, calls and schedules, takes a very short time out of her day and gets it over with. Mammos are simple to do, a minor annoyance for an extremely small amount of time in a busy day and life goes on for another year. No problem. Well, this year, even though she knows how important getting a mammogram done on time due to knowing so many women in her life that have had/do have breast cancer, she thought that it would be okay to put it off for maybe 6 months. Why not? No issues on past mammograms. No symptoms. Even though insurance covers the yearly check, she just did not feel like dealing with the appointment and drive. Decision was made, done deal. The next day, before she even realized what she was doing, the phone was in her hand and suddenly realized she had just scheduled her mammo for the following week. A call she will quickly realize was divine intervention, intuition, pure luck……who knows.

The next week came and she drove to her mammo. All went fine. In and out, on with her day. She would wait for the traditional letter in the mail saying all clear and see you next year. Little did she know, the letter would never arrive. Instead, the phone rang 2 days later early in the morning. The person on the other end was very nice while stating that there were some new issues and concerns on her mammogram that have never been present before on past images. They instructed her that she needed to come in the next day for additional 3D images and an ultrasound, which she did.

Upon arrival, they filled her in on the findings; a mass and also microcalcifications, both on the right side. The tech said that most of these issues are generally dismissed after the new images and ultrasound, so it would probably be ok. After all the tests were completed, the doctor entered the room and told the patient, these issues are not ruled out yet and 2 different types of biopsies would be needed, one week apart so there is time for recovery in between. The doctor did her best to reassure the woman that most biopsies will show that everything is ok and these are just changes that happen in life as we age.

The lady went on to have her first biopsy on the mass. She was scheduled to find out the results a few days later, but received a call the morning of the appointment from the Nurse Practitioner and said the biopsy revealed the mass to just be a complex cyst and she did not even need to come in today, but to just come back for the second biopsy at the end of the week. Yay! One down, one to go. No problem. The day of the second biopsy arrived, a Friday, and she went in to complete the awkward test. The doctor did his best to reassure her that chances are very good all will turn out to be okay since the majority of biopsies are negative. He took a good sample of the microcalcifications and said the come in the following Tuesday for the results.

Monday arrived and her phone rang in the morning. The center called, not the Nurse Practitioner, nicely asking if she would be able to come in that day, as soon as she could and discuss the results since they arrived in their office. She knew right away, this was not going to be like the last one. She told them she could be there in a couple of hours. They said no problem and would see her as soon as she could get there.

Upon arrival, she already knew her life was about to change before anyone even said a word. The NP did see her right away and informed her that her biopsy did reveal breast cancer. Luckily, at least according the biopsy, it is still early stages, but it does appear aggressive. The NP went on to tell her that she would need to see a surgeon next and is facing, at the minimum, a lumpectomy and radiation therapy, plus some meds that will need to be taken for 5 years following the treatment or perhaps even a mastectomy. Chemo may be a factor, but too early to know for sure at this point. This was her life now, at least temporarily.

Her new travels down the breast cancer road is just starting and many questions are still needing answers, but there is an initial plan in place and things are moving forward. Time will tell what happens next and what new information will be learned as tests continue to happen and some form of surgery to take place within the next few weeks. Even though initial signs show it was caught early, doctors made a point to warn her that status may change after the test results come back and pathology reports from surgery. Fingers crossed.

Just think, if she would have put off the routine May mammo for 6 months like she was originally going to do, I am sure this post would read much differently. Which is why, I must again, stress the importance of routine mammograms! If you notice an issue, men and women at any age, don’t dismiss it or think you could just wait until your next mammogram. It is not worth it. She did not even have symptoms and look what was secretly brewing inside. Don’t ignore a simple chance to possibly catch an issue early. A mammogram takes minutes to complete, they may be uncomfortable but definitely not painful, most insurances cover them 100% (even if they don’t, they are worth paying your cost once a year), there are programs that even offer them for free, some clinics schedule mammograms on the weekend. So, what is your excuse?

This story I shared is 100% factual. It is not hearsay, embellished, imagined, a fairytale, etc. How do I know this, you may ask? Because it is my story.

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