It’s that time again. Mammogram for me. I go faithfully every year. This year I went in on a Monday. The technician was excellent. She was very kind and gentle. She viewed the slides and said they came out good. If there were any issues, I would be getting a call back within a day.
I always get nervous because in 2017 I got a call back before I even got home from the mammogram. I was so scared. They asked me if I could come back right then and there for a few new x-rays on the right side. This was my very first time getting a call back. I was beyond scared and worried.
The technician explained that there was an asymmetrical shape in the right slide. I could see it when the technician showed me. It looked like an oval. She re-did the xrays, and then sent me in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed nothing and when the x-rays came back, the radiologist reviewed them and said the asymmetrical shape was a flap of skin and nothing to worry about. It had something to do with the compression and the dense breast tissue.
So going back to the original paragraph, February 2020, I got my mammogram on a Monday. Tuesday early afternoon I received a call on my cell phone. I recognized the phone number right away as it was Baystate. I didn’t want to pick it up but I did. “Hello, this is Sharon” I said …….”Hello Sharon, this is Jaime from Baystate radiology. I wanted to let you know the radiologist saw something on the mammogram that is different from previous films and wants you to come in for another x-ray on your right breast. I started to cry a little. The next available appointment was the following Monday at 1:30 pm. I scheduled the appointment, hung up the phone and really cried. My mind began to race. OMG what if it’s cancer? What if I have to get a mastectomy. Am I going to die? I thought myself into the grave within 5 minutes of getting the phone call. I don’t have will, what about my dogs? Who will care for them when I am dead? I have too many clothes that don’t fit, I have to get my affairs in order.
I had to talk to someone so I called my sister and she talked some sense into me. She reminded me that there are 5 sisters in our family. 4 out of the 5 of us all got called back due to dense breast tissue. She made me feel better and I began to think more rationally. I know I still need a will but the rest can hold off for a week.
I kept myself very busy over the next week. I went for long runs and took the dogs for many walks. I organized my closet, got rid of some clothes that didn’t fit and also donated some things I no longer needed.
Finally, it’s Monday again. I worked 1/2 a day, then drove to the https://www.baystatehealth.org/locations/breast-and-wellness-center
I sat in the car for half an hour because I was early. I prayed, I cried and I then again thought of what my sister said. I got out of the car and walked slowly into the building. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. The office was on the 3rd floor. I took the stairs as it was a way for me to get the anxiety out by walking. I checked in, and within minutes my name was called. A very friendly lady greeted me and explained what was going to happen. I was guided into the room where I changed into a very pretty colored burgundy johnny. It was a one size fits all or as I say fits most. I wrapped it around me twice and tied it tight. It made me feel more secure. The tech was very kind and reassuring. She explained why the test was being redone and was extremely professional. After the test was done, I was placed back in the waiting room with many other women.
I couldn’t help but wonder if they were there for “recalls” or did they have breast cancer? Was their screening routine? It was so very quiet and no one was talking. I sat quietly and prayed.
After about 20 minutes, the technician called my name. I got up and followed her. She brought me back to the room where I originally changed into that burgundy johnny. She shut the curtain partway and she looked at me. I was trying to read her expressions but couldn’t. She finally spoke. She said I have nothing to worry about. The spot the radiologist saw on the original slide was an artifact. ” My brain said “Artifact? The last time I heard that word was in an Indiana Jones Movie? She explained it was most likely movement that cause blurring or it could have been improper compression. I was so relived I shed a few tears and hugged her.
In closing, getting called back after a mammogram doesn’t mean you have cancer. It means there is a difference in the previous xray. It could be a flap of skin, compression or the simple fact as women age, the breast tissue gets displaced with fat. From what I read, only 10% of women get a call back for a repeat mammogram. Most of the call backs have a happy ending like my story.