I don’t share much online or social media other than pictures of my children. I have gone back and forth about sharing this. I’m still not entirely sure that I want to share this story, but if it can help save one person then it’s the right thing to do.
I had my first mammogram after the birth of my oldest son at the recommendation of my OBGYN. There was no concern, but she knew that I was planning on another baby and said it would be wise to go ahead and have one for a base line reference. She referred me to a wonderful facility and I went. It was all very uneventful and my results showed nothing of concern. Aside for the following year that I was pregnant and then nursing my second child, I continued to have a yearly mammogram and ultrasound due to dense breast tissue, always with normal results.
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In March of this year I was due for my yearly appointment. Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I have always gone in the years past was under a complete remodel and did not have mammography equipment at that time so I was sent to the local hospital where my babies were born. I went to my appointment and was in and out of there in less than an hour. I didn’t give it a second thought. A couple days later, I received a call from the hospital asking me to come back because there was “something” on the image of my left breast and they needed to take a closer look. If you knew me well, then it would be no surprise to you when I say that I went into straight up, through the roof, panic mode. I went back to the diagnostic mammogram appointment with my husband in tow, to find out that the “something” that was on the image was just a spot where my skin had gotten pinched between the compression slab and there was absolutely nothing to worry about. I was told that this actually happens often. Talk about feeling relieved!
Even though this turned out to be nothing, because I was called back for one diagnostic mammogram, the protocol was to have me back in six months for another diagnostic mammogram -just to follow up. I made the appointment for September and moved on with my life. I literally did not give it a second thought until I got the reminder text for the appointment a couple of days before September 18, when I was scheduled to go.
I almost cancelled that appointment. I even called Pink Lotus and asked if it was really necessary for me to go back for the follow up appointment. This would be my third mammogram in a year and it just seemed excessive to me. Plus, that glitch with the last mammogram had scared me so badly. I didn’t want the anxiety. I looked over at my two beautiful boys and thought to myself that I must go. If there was something wrong, I owed it them to find out now.
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I have always had great intuition and I guess there is a reason why I was so anxious and worried about this appointment. A calcification was found on the image of my left breast. It was completely unrelated to anything that was seen in the past. I was told I needed a biopsy just to be safe and that most of the time these things are benign. I left the hospital and called Pink Lotus right away and was able to get an appointment with Dr. Kristi Funk, who is all things amazing, the very next morning. The next day I was in her office with tears in my eyes and she reassured me that it was very likely that this calcification was benign and I would be fine. She painlessly took three samples to send to the lab and I was on my way.
I was almost in celebration mode the next day when I got a call from Dr. Funk telling me that she had the preliminary pathology report and it was in fact cancer. The good news was that it was non invasive– DCIS (ductile carcinoma in situ), contained inside a duct of my left breast with one millimeter of micro invasion- which was not enough to be concerning. Essentially Stage 0. The next day I was in her office discussing my options. I remember interrupting her as she was explaining everything to me and saying “ I want to hear everything that you have to say, but I am telling you right now that I want my breasts gone”. That might seem extreme considering such early detection and there were other treatment options, but for me breasts were not worth the stress. Mine had served their purpose- feeding my two babies. I didn’t want to go through life wondering if this could return and if it did, would I be as lucky as I had been this time.
There are other details to this story but they aren’t really that important to the point I am attempting to make. On October 13, I checked into the hospital and had a bilateral (nipple sparing – Yay!) mastectomy. No further treatment is required. I am still under reconstruction with Dr. Ritu Chopra who is just as wonderful as Dr. Funk. That will take a few months, but I am fine with that. I get to carry on with life, worry free of this ever happening again. My boys and husband get to have their happy, healthy, grateful mom and wife. I am beyond thankful for every new day that I get to see.
I am not saying that my choice is the right choice for everyone. Every case is different. I just wanted to share my personal perspective and thought process in dealing with this. I can honestly say, I have never felt more thankful and lucky in my life. This all could have gone in a terrible direction had I cancelled that follow up appointment in September. I’m telling you, I was THISCLOSE to canceling it.
My point in sharing is that unfortunately breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. All women have targets on their backs when it comes to this horrendous disease. Do yourself, your children, spouse/partner, family and/or friends a favor. Get your mammograms AND ultrasounds- especially if you have dense breast tissue. Even if you are not yet 40 – go for a base line reference. Don’t be afraid of your results. Don’t be afraid to get checked out even if you only have a feeling something is wrong. Trust your gut. There doesn’t have to be a lump present. Now is the earliest possible time for detection. Most likely you will simply receive peace of mind, which is absolutely priceless.
Thanks for reading. xo