Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mammogram and scan were fine

This morning when I was getting ready to go for my annual mammogram and scan - three years since I had cancer - I kinda made up my mind that if the result was bad, I would not go to work. In fact, maybe I wouldn't go to work all week. I would get a doctor to sign me off for sick leave. Stress and all that. I also considered killing myself... but what I did know was that if it was bad, I would probably spend the day at movies, seeing one after the other. And possibly buy whisky and get drunk.
Relief is that it was ok. The feeling is incomprehensible. Whereas yesterday I couldn't sit still from anxiety, today I couldn't work, didn't want to, wanted to celebrate and felt so bouyant and joyous that I spent close to two hours out the office at lunchtime, of which about 20 minutes was spent eating miso soup and pickle maki and cucumber maki, and the rest gallivanting around having my new sunglasses tightened, swopping the Mac make-up present I bought but never gave (a complicated story) for green eyeliner and a fab new subtle lipstick, buying the other toiletry bag I couldn't decide on yesterday (will now have two new ones, which is fine) and generally having a fab time.
Anyway, at the office a colleague told me about a former colleague who got breast cancer and reacted badly to treatment which I know included a mastectomy: she swelled (her face, it seemed) and her arm went numb. So she stopped the treatment, arguing that it was close to the end of it anyway.
I was aghast. Why didn't she just sit out the treatment? Maybe it would improve afterwards. Did she go for a second opinion?
And then I realised: I wouldn't give up. Even if my mammogram and ultra-sound had shown cancer - and anyway, still have blood tests and abdominal scan and chest x-ray to do before I see The Tango Man on Monday - I would grit my teeth and do what's required.

Know this is a long post but want to document what the mammogram doctor - radiologist? - said today.
Again, he said my breasts were 'pristine', that is, no evidence of ever having had cancer  - think he meant radiation. He also, however, said they were dense with "lots of activity" which he explained as being like a rose bush with lots of branches and thorns and ...
He acknowledged that such breasts are more prone to cancer. I asked what % of patients at his practice - attached to a medical teaching hospital - were diagnosed with breast cancer.
He admitted his stats were skewered because they get many referrals, that is, doctors send problem cases to them and often those become a positive diagnosis. However, bearing that in mind, they diagnose four to five new cases of breast cancer per week. His practice had 228 working days last year and they diagnosed 219 new cases of breast cancer. When I asked how many of those were surprised at their diagnosis, that is, it was unexpected, he reckoned about half.
I was shocked. I asked if it was an increase and he said yes.

He said there were many reasons for breast cancer and cited:
* stress - although it was hard to say what sort etc
* hormones in food
* people having babies late (I haven't had children so that is even worse, plus I started menstruating at a very early age, 9 - yes, standard three)
* genetic disposition towards cancer
But, he said, the biggest factor for the increase was the environment: cellphones, microwaves, TV. "We are surrounded by an electro-magnetic field," he said.

Anyway, for the record, this is part of what my results of today's tests say, apart from the best part which states: "There is no finding of concern on today's study. There is no evidence of recurrence and we have still not found any primary lesion within the left breast."
The rest says: "The breasts show dense fibro-cystic parenchyma.
The patient again has florid fibro-cystic change with fibro-adenotic nodules in both breasts and scattered benign calcifications.
I see no finding of concern in either breast.
There is no axilary or supraclavicular lymphadenopathy".

There is a God. I am so grateful. Now the rest of my tests must just be ok.


  1. Gillian,
    I am so happy for your great results. I hope the results of the rest of the tests are just as positive.

  2. Thanks for being so supportive. It means a lot as often I feel I am pretty alone in this. Well, not alone, but in the end it is just me. Nobody else can share this, it is just I who have to go to the hospital tomorrow for the scan and x-ray and wait there for the results. Don't even want anyone there with me but it is a solitary experience. So thanks.