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Written on September 2nd, 2015…
I was extremely anxious thinking about the appointment for the mammogram and ultrasound. I heard they would be able to tell me results on the spot, so I knew I was leaving that building knowing whether or not I have cancer.
Two days before the appointment, thoughts began to bombard me. “I have cancer. I may not have a future with my husband like I thought.”
On one of these evenings, I made love to my husband and felt a deep sadness overcome me. I looked into his eyes and let the emotion poor out of me. The moment didn’t feel real, he didn’t feel real. His realness was fading. There was deep, gut-wrenching sadness and then also a curiosity, a surrender, and a deep pleasure. I felt like at that point, I started just to allow whatever needed to come up, come up. I felt so connected with him as my tears fell from my eyes onto his face. His smile. This cosmic, beyond this world connection ~ knowing we’d always be connected no matter what. I flashed to a similar experience I had making love to him when we first met over 8 years ago, this knowingness. It was actually beautiful. After we made love, I just layed in his arms and couldn’t speak. It seemed that this “I might have cancer” experience was already re-shaping our relationship. There was a sweetness, tenderness, wordless appreciation for each other. The petty arguments stopped, we just felt closer. I love him 🙂
Ok, back to my mammo and ultrasound appointment. What a crazy, weird process. So first is the mammo. The technician was an incredibly sweet, plump, old lady who is definitely someone’s loving grandmother. She walked me through the process: (1) first disrobe and put on the sexy hospital gown (which had a giant tear in it), (2) put little stickers with metal in them over my moles and freckles so that the radiologist can see they aren’t internal lumps on the mammograms. (She then told me about how all of the young girls in the office like to take these home and put them on their nipples for their boyfriends…ha!) and (3) she will then instruct me to place my boob in the ginormous machine with a pancake smashing device several times from all different angles. When I hear the noise, she’ll tell me in a calm, soothing voice ”DON’T breathe” and it will take the image..then she’ll say, “You can breathe.”
If there’s anything that can suck the sexiness out of young, voluptuous 34DD boobies, it’s the mammo.
Dear God, I had no idea they could be contorted like that. It was quite hilarious to see just how flat my boobs could get ~ these gals can take much more than I knew they could! I was also super excited about the fact that I was about to get my menstrual cycle, so of course my boobs were already extremely swollen and tender. A great time to manipulate, twist, turn, smash, and then some. But in all honestly, it wasn’t as painful as I had thought. Of course, during the entire process, I studied the shit out of the technician’s face as she was looking at my images…looking for some facial expression/sign that would let me know what is growing in my boob…she kept her cheery grandma smile the whole time.
After the mammogram, she said she would show the images to the radiologist who will then determine if an ultrasound will be needed. She then looked at me with a reassuring smile and said, “I am almost positive that….” (oh good! My mind thought, she’s going to say she thinks it’s nothing to worry about!) “… that you’ll also need an ultrasound. Be right back!” Damnit.
10 minutes later, she came into the room, extremely smiley and chipper. “I have good news!” (again, my mind comes in with “Oh goodie! It’s not cancer!!!”) and she finished her sentence with, “you’ll DEFINITELY need an ultrasound!” Honestly lady, you really need to learn how to fucking deliver information to your patients…I brushed it off because of her genuine sweetness and headed into the ultrasound room with a new technician.
After the ultrasound, the technician asked if I wanted anyone with me for when the doctor tells me the news and I said yes, to please get my husband from the waiting room. I said “he’ll be easy to find, he’s the really cute guy.” She said, “Oh, I think I already spotted him. Brown hair?” That’s my baby.
Travis’ face was so sweet when he walked in ~ so much love and concern, “Honey, are you ok?” rushing to me. I explained I didn’t have any news yet and just wanted him to be with me when I heard. The radiologist and technician returned. She asked if she could take another ultrasound and spent a few more minutes looking at the images. Then she looked me in the eyes and said that since my breast tissue is so dense, she is not able to tell what the lumps are ~ they could be cancerous, benign, or just an infection. So she recommended a biopsy or possibly surgery to have them removed.
All of my “not much stressness” took an exit at this moment. What. The. Fuck. “I just went through all of that for nothing? You STILL don’t know? I HAVE to WAIT even longer?! I was supposed to know TODAY. She should be able to diagnose me. She should know all of the answers.” And the tears and fear poured out….My husband said, “honey – this is great news. She is not saying you have cancer.” Well, at that point I could not hear it/see it..Just pure frustration.
The next day, I had an appointment with my doctor, the head doctor at my mother-in-law’s office. She explained the situation again, and we talked about how it would be a good time to get health insurance. She said that she was so sorry and that I am too young to have to go through something like this. This was all starting to sound too real for me now. Could it really be possible for me to have cancer? I am young. I am healthy. I live a really healthy lifestyle. I fucking teach “wellness” for a living! There’s no history of breast cancer in my family. How could this be possible?
When I got home, I started diving into questioning my stressful thoughts again using The Work of Byron Katie. I did a worksheet on the moment when the radiologist shared the news (or lack there of). A judge-your-neighbor worksheet is a free tool on Byron Katie’s web site that helps you identify & collect stressful thoughts. Through inquiry, I caught up with the reality that this news really was good. The radiologist was NOT telling me I had cancer. She cared enough to look me in the eyes, face me, and shared her desire to have more testing done so we can get a clear picture of what’s going on in my body. Not a guess. That’s what I want too. My anger towards her dropped, I saw she is doing the best she can with the information available. And how great is it that I didn’t have a diagnosis yet since I didn’t have insurance? This gave me the time to make the many phone calls needed to get full coverage health insurance starting in October. Obamacare…my hero.
After getting an out-of-pocket quote of $825 for the biopsy ~ I decided to schedule it asap ~ it is worth every penny for my mental peace to get this taken care of as soon as possible. (Side note from October 31st: the medical bills I have received so far for this biopsy are now totaling over $5,000!!! Ugh.) The next biopsy appointment was in 2 weeks and I discovered that my mind didn’t do very well with the waiting game. Especially because this week was my 34th birthday!! Come on..universe! I had parties, my husband’s gig, lunch dates coming up. Oh, and maybe cancer.
5 thoughts on “The Mammo & Ultrasound…I will finally know! Or not.”
Your insights are profound, beyond profound, they touch on every raw nerve of dealing with cancer. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey as it happens. It is a real gift to us, your readers.
Thank you! It’s a gift for me to share it too! xoxo
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I am betting that you are much further down this path now. I know that you are all right (other than what you are thinking and believing, as our dear teacher says.) Thank you for sharing. It is rich and I am blessed that our paths meet time to time. If ever you are wanting an inquiry partner I am here. Bethany you are a light, just shine.
with love to you and Travis,
PS yes the boob press is an experience to remember.
Haha, “boob press” is a great name for it 🙂 Yes, I am much further down this path and I love sharing the whole process of how I’ve gotten to a place of peace with my diagnosis and healing path. The next blog entry will show me diving into inquiry more deeply (remember the amazing one we did on the helpline too!?). I journaled throughout all of it ~ it’s really cool to look back on. And I love showing others through this blog of how I got from A to B (stress to peace). I will definitely take you up on your offer of doing The Work together ~ thank you!!!
I have been on the “cancer journey” for close to three years now and I have never felt more blessed. It is an experience I would not wish on anyone but when I found myself over the initial shock and awe of it all, I became aware of the peacefulness that you mention and was overcome with a sense of God’s presence in my life. I have been amazed how God finds ways to provide me support and help me. Your life style and focus on meditation and healthy diet will serve you well. Your appreciation of your family and friends and being open to them will provide you so much strength. You will get through this and be stronger than ever and be able to guide others through the journey. But for now, take care of yourself and be open to the love that surrounds you. Godspeed. It will all work out.