In my life I’ve had several mammograms come back with irregularities. I just had another. If you’ve ever experienced a mammogram with any sort of questionable spots then you know what comes next. First the MRI, and if that doesn’t satisfy Doctor then you’re off to have a biopsy.
When I had my 3D mammogram last week the nice lady who flattened my boobs told me I was full of microcalcifications. This I knew. My last mammogram resulted in a wait and see approach because of these little jewels.
She showed me my breasts on the computer screen and the microcalcifications looked like a swarm of pretty fireflies lighting up my girls. “We only worry about them when they are in clusters,” she said.
“You have clusters of pleomorphic microcalcifications,” said Doctor the very next day.
Of course I do.
(Pleomorhic microcalcifications -Having an irregular shape or various shapes. These terms often describe microcalcifications which can indicate ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early stage breast cancer.)
I’m not writing this blog post so that you can say things like, “I’m so sorry,” or “I’ll be thinking of you.” To even accept that kind of sentiment at this stage of the game would make me a total creep, in my opinion. You can hold onto that in case I need it later.
I’m writing this post to admit that I am freaked out, to tell other women going through this that I think we’re entitled to freak out and that I am not going to tolerate the whole “don’t worry about it” attitude from a single person.
When I was in my late teens my Grandmother had breast cancer. I lived with her so I got to see up close and personal what breast cancer can do. It’s brutal. It’s a straight up bitch. She succumbed to the disease in just 9 months.
Of course in today’s world we have the opportunity to catch signs of breast cancer much earlier than in 1982. Smart women get their mammograms every year after 35. But this shit still murders women every day. It’s still wicked. It’s still terrifying.
Today there are horrible, horrible things happening in the world that are so much bigger than my tiny problems and I recognize my own selfishness in even thinking about what’s happening in my breasts.
But, I am and I can’t help it.
I try to keep busy with work. I tell myself to stop being a baby. I remind myself over and over again that it is far more likely that I don’t have breast cancer than I do. Let’s be real about it. I’m probably just fine and I’ll feel stupid for even giving this a second thought.
And yet here I am – my stomach filled with acid while I wait for the phone call lining up next steps.
I just want to say to women in this situation that it’s okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to experience it in whatever way you do. You can’t help it. I can’t help it.
Imagine for a moment telling a man not to worry that a testiclegram showed irregularities which may indicate the presence of a flesh-eating testicle worm in his coin purse.
“Don’t overreact, Mike. It’s more likely you don’t have an African death worm in your balls than you do. Just be patient while we take some more pictures and decide whether to cut some of it out to examine under a microscope.”
Stop shaming women by telling them they really shouldn’t feel afraid when something like this happens. I’m scared and I own it. I hope other women will own it, too.