Last week was one of the scariest experiences of my life. It should have been one of the best weeks of my life after being featured in Detroit Home Magazine. However, it quickly changed after 1 dreaded phone call. I feel compelled to share what happened because I think (and hope) it will bring some comfort to women who receive the dreaded “Mammogram Call Back”. When I received my call, I felt lost, confused, and extremely scared. Now I know *what to do to help ease that excruciating anxiety that builds during the “wait”.
I went to my annual mammogram on a Wednesday and like always, the technician told me that if they view anything suspicious, they will call me within 3 days. On the other hand, if they don’t view anything suspicious, they will send me a letter in the mail telling me I am in the clear.
I began having mammograms in my late 30’s when a nurse practitioner felt a pea size lump in my left breast. It turned out to be nothing thankfully, and all of my mammograms since have come back “normal”. I expected nothing different this time and looked forward to receiving the letter as always.
That weekend we had our garage sale planned so I was super busy preparing. Every day and night I was in the garage sorting and pricing, so the last thing that was on my mind was receiving that letter. I completely forgot I even had the mammogram.
Our garage sale was set for Friday & Saturday. Friday went well and my husband and I closed up the sale just in time to go pick up our daughters from school. We had a nice lunch date planned and grocery shopping after that. We arrived home and I was laughing about something my husband said and I happen to glance over at the answering machine. Yes, I still have an answering machine. I listened to the message and it was a nurse from the hospital. She was brief, didn’t give much information, except that I needed to come back for another mammogram. She also said she was there until 3:30pm.
My wonderful mood sunk into my gut and a sheet of fear spread through my body. My husband was right there as I listened to it again and realized the time. They were now closed and I would have to wait the entire weekend to get more information.
I was completely frustrated and pretty pissed that our weekend was now nothing but a worried disaster. That night I wrote to some blog friends about it because I didn’t want to worry my Mom or sisters. It was bad enough my husband knew. I rather not worry anyone I am close to.
Thankfully, the next morning one of my amazing blog friends talked me into calling the “on-call” Dr. The thought had gone through my mind, and I think my husband suggested it, but it wasn’t until she said, “You have to be your own #1 advocate.” Those words were very much needed. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, put on my big girl panties and call the Dr. on call and find out what the heck was going on. So, I did just that. I called the Dr. on call, and she called back immediately and was able to read what they found (a 4mm suspicious spot). She confirmed that call backs are very common and from what she could tell, I had nothing to worry about. She continued to say that my breasts are mildly dense, and they needed more views to be safe. So…it can be very confusing. They found the spot, but still nothing to worry about? Which is it?
On Monday I got in touch with my Dr. and made the appt. My Dr. confirmed what the on call Dr. stated. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have the second mammogram and ultra sound until 5 days later, June 10th-that was their first opening. I had to wait 5 days? UHG. I called each morning hoping for a cancellation, but nothing.
Friday finally came after a very long week and I looked at my cat and said, “Syl…this is either going to be a really great day, or a really bad one.”
Was I overly worried? In my opinion, absolutely not. I had full rights to my worry.
My appt. was at 1pm, but I arrived at the hospital at 11:45am. I’m never early, but we needed this to be over. They took me back quickly, but I was told I had to wait 15 minutes after the mammogram, then they would take me back for the sonogram, then I would have to wait 15 more minutes for the results. I usually pick up my kiddos on Friday and we go out for pizza. My husband switched his schedule so he could pick them up. I was there alone. That was tough.
While waiting to go back in for the ultra sound, I began to think about what the hell I was going to tell my kids if I needed a biopsy. You see…our vacation was coming up, so that would have most likely been cancelled. They have been looking so forward to it.
Then, I heard my name and the nurse called me in to tell me that they wanted MORE VIEWS. I nearly passed out. What the heck do they need a 3rd mammogram for? What are they seeing? I asked her and they have to be very vague with their answers because they just don’t have the information yet. I had to do what I had to do. They sent me back to the waiting room for 15 more minutes and then I finally had the sonogram. I was now texting my husband in a state of panic. I wasn’t able to eat anything, so my blood sugar was dropping which didn’t help. Honestly, at this point I had lost all hope and was more on a mission to find out how to get rid of this monster growing inside of me. The fact that they called me back twice for the images meant to me that there is in fact something WRONG.
Finally…the results. The nurse walked me down the hall as if she was taking me somewhere. To Heaven possibly? She quickly turned around with a smile, and said, “You’re free to go.”
I began to cry and I wanted to hug her, but I knew that was a bit over the top. I asked her, “Why, oh why did they have to take me back for 2 mammograms today?” She said, “They couldn’t recreate what the first mammogram found. There was nothing there, and the sonogram proved that. Your breasts are clear.”
I thanked her and I went into the dressing room with the big pink ribbon on the door and just cried. I texted my husband, “I’m clear, baby.” Everything on that drive home seemed different. Everything.
We celebrated with a sushi lunch and I decided to tell my girls the entire story. I don’t like to sugar coat life with them. They needed to know.
The hardest part of the entire experience was not that I may have breast cancer. The hardest part for me, was thinking of my girls without a Mom. I am so grateful that this year, my mammogram is clear.
*My advice to those of you looking for comfort during the wait:
-Call your Dr. (even if it is after hours) and find out what they found and why they want you back. Ask for specifics. They will tell you everything they know. They may talk fast, so have a pencil and paper handy. Remember “You have to be your own #1 advocate.” Ask questions.
-Call daily for cancellations if they can’t get you in soon.
-Keep yourself very busy and don’t panic like I did. The majority of mammogram call backs are not cancer.
-Tell your Mom, sisters, friends. They would want to help you through it. My Mom was upset that I didn’t tell her. She said she would have prayed for me all that time. I also spoke to my BFF who went through it all. She was a huge help. It just felt good to talk about it. To let out those fears. Crying helped too.
-Do not feel your breasts over and over. My breasts were in so much pain from all of my “investigating”. I didn’t solve anything by doing that. In fact, I just made my boobs hurt.
REMINDER: MAKE YOUR ANNUAL MAMMOGRAM APPT. TODAY.Tags: dreaded mammogram call back, mammogram, mammogram call back Posted by