"I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to 'cut back.' From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible."
(Erma Bombeck)

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The diagnosis

July 15th, 2008 was my husband's 49th birthday. It was also the day that my Group Health doctor had made an appointment to give me the results of my breast biopsy. Instead, her office staff called me the day before to tell me that my doctor was OUT on July 15th and that she would see me on July 16th. To say that I was freaking out a little is an understatement. I had valiantly (or so I thought) endured living through a FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY, and TUESDAY trying to distract myself and keep from going insane while wondering if I actually had breast cancer. Asking me to wait ONE MORE DAY seemed to be the cruelest of ironies. There was nothing I could do, however. The doctor was OUT.

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Waiting for results . . . torture!

This seems like an appropriate spot to talk about what happens AFTER you've had a breast biopsy. You've been told that you may, in fact, have the dread disease of cancer. Your entire life may be (and really is) altered from this day forward. You have no idea what kind of tumor you have, whether it's aggressive, malicious, slow-growing, or what. Then you are sent home with a pink flower to WAIT for the biopsy results. Surely this life circumstance has to rate at the top of the list of torturous experiences for human beings. My Group Health doctor called to say that she would meet with me when the biopsy results came in and let me know the details. She set up an appointment for five days after the biopsy. I didn't know how I would fare mentally for those five days. What I ended up doing was to replay the entrance into her office over and over and over again in my mind, each time imagining good news and bad news and my reaction to each.

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The biopsy

The day of my biopsy arrived. I had spent the previous three nights having nightmares about it. Three days before, I had been shown the exam table and room where the biopsy would be performed and I'd read about it on the Internet. I comforted myself with prayer. I was as scared as I've ever been. My husband accompanied me to the appointment, of course. Knowing that he would be in the waiting room praying for me while the biopsy was done was very comforting to me.

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Getting serious with ultrasound

I headed back to the Breast Care Center on July 7th for a second, more thorough set of mammogram tests. Even then, I still didn't have a sense of fear. Maybe it's because I've had so many that have been routine, it just didn't register that this one might not be the same. After the mammogram was finished, I was told that the radiologist wanted to do an ultrasound for a better look. However, no openings were available until later in the afternoon. I was asked to come back at the end of the day, which I did. As the technician began the ultrasound, I turned my head and watched the screen. I saw her isolate a dark spot and set her tools for measuring its width. I knew this was the area in question. It was definitely very visible in the ultrasound.

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Don't bother me, I'm busy

On July 3rd, our community had a huge fireworks show over Big Lake. To celebrate the occasion, our daughter usually invited some of her friends over to hang out, eat, and watch the fireworks.

I had a list of errands to run, the most important being a trip to the grocery store. I had already learned my lesson from previous experience: "Never get caught with an unstocked refrigerator and/or pantry when TEEN BOYS come to call."

The phone rang and I answered. Someone from the Breast Care Center was on the other end, saying that "something" showed up on my mammogram and could I please come back for a second set of pictures? An offer was made to set up an appointment that day.

Ever the dutiful mom (hehe), I knew I wouldn't be able to run my errands AND get another mammogram done in the same afternoon, so I said that another day would be better (still, I had no sense of urgency). So we scheduled the appointment for the following Monday.


Just another mammogram . . .

I had a regular, screening mammogram on or about June 30th. No indication was made during the exam that anything appeared unusual. I wasn't expecting anything unusual, but was again relieved that the breast pain I'd had earlier was really nothing.


Being responsible

I visited my nurse practitioner on June 4th for my annual gynecological exam. I mentioned to her that I'd had some breast pain and wondered about it. She checked the breast for any lumps and couldn't find any, so she referred me for a regular, screening mammogram. Since I felt relieved that no lumps were found, I didn't make the appointment for the mammogram until a couple of weeks later.