Angela’s Corner: Seriously?

Survivor: Wild GeraniumI’ll never forget the day I went in for my last mammogram and ultrasound. It was my daughter’s sixth birthday, not a day to forget. I had an 8:00am mammogram, followed by a 9:00am ultrasound. I was called back to the room, put my purse down to get comfortable, just as the nurse started explaining how that day may not be my lucky day. She didn’t use those words exactly, but it sure sounded like it. She had the privilege of asking me why I was there today and explained that the radiologist doesn’t believe I should be having a mammogram at my age. “Interesting,” I thought. This was ordered by my doctor after all. I guess that didn’t matter. After going back and forth, the nurse said we would skip the mammogram and just do the ultrasound. If anything presented itself in those images, then they would proceed with the mammogram. Now, I had to sit in the waiting room for my ultrasound appointment. Leaving me to fume for the next hour may not have been the wisest move.

My ultrasound technician asked me the same questions. Why are you here? Do you really think you need this? Needless to say, it didn’t seem as warm and friendly that morning as in previous years. I had my ultrasound on my right breast focusing on the areas of concern. Saying let’s take a quick look at the left, and that she did. I never saw someone fly through an exam so quickly.

Enter in the radiologist. “Things look normal and there is no concern to warrant a mammogram,” he said. After talking to me some, he quotes some guidelines saying I shouldn’t be having mammograms yet until I’m 40 years old.   What’s going through my mind? A lot! Even though my medical doctor ordered the images, there is a huge family history, and I’ve had three previous images without problems, this guy decides to take a stance. After discussing my concerns, he reluctantly said, “If you want to do it, go ahead.” (Deep breaths, Angela. Deep breaths.)

Part of me really just wanted to walk away at that time. I had already been there for two hours and I had hit my frustration level. I didn’t think I could handle much more. All of a sudden, I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach. My whole body started to feel heavy. I felt something on my left shoulder, looked that way, and heard the words, “For peace of mind, do this.” So we did it. I am forever thankful I stood my ground and didn’t cave. I was being my own advocate. I am thankful for a higher power, and angel, or Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder telling me to do it. That day, within the following hour, I had news that wouldn’t shock me. “You have calcifications that have changed from the year before.” I take that back; I was shocked. Calcifications on last year’s images was news to me. I could see the radiologist’s body language start to feel bad about all that happened previously, but he still held strong on his position. “More than likely, this is nothing. The odds are in your favor.” A small chuckle escaped from me and out came the words, “Not in my family.”

I left that office feeling defeated, yet encouraged. Defeated because I was there for over three hours. Defeated because I had to fight for what I knew was right. Defeated because there were changes and I knew what that meant. However, I felt encouraged because I stood up for myself. I wasn’t going to let his beliefs guide my path. Encouraged because I had someone looking out for me. Encouraged because whatever this was, I had family that would fight this with me.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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