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All Things Breasts: The Mammogram

Back at the beginning of May I had my second mammogram of my life. My first was at age 16, for a small lump found on my right breast. But at the time it was ruled to be nothing because I was still in puberty.

In April I had a scheduled yearly exam with my doctor. I knew it was time for me to have a mammogram. I was 2 years late in starting. My family history of breast cancer means that I should have started getting a yearly mammogram at age 35. However I had just delivered Oliver and was breastfeeding him when I turned 35, and at 36 Oliver had just weaned and I figured I could wait until my milk fully dried up. By the time my milk fully dried up, it was a few months before my birthday. I called and got the earliest appointment with the specific doctor I wanted to see.

I went to my appointment and said ” I know I need a mammogram.” To which we discussed my history. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2010. She had surgery to remove the tumor on her right breast. When she met with her doctor at a follow up, the doctor said that the team of doctors she meets with had said she needed to take a bigger margin of tissue surrounding that tumor and my mom went back in for surgery to do that in March 2010. During that surgery they found another tumor and removed that. My mom’s doctor suggested an MRI of her breasts to see if there were other tumors. None of her tumors had been caught by the mammograms or ultrasounds. When the MRI results came back my world crumbled. Her entire left breast was a mass of tumor. The very end of April my mom had a double mastectomy. She lost both of her breasts.

In 2001 my mom’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in my own new world as an adult at college, away from home, so I am not sure on the specifics. However, that cancer also metastasized in to her brain in the fall of 2003 and she eventually passed away in July 2006.

I almost feel like it is my turn to be diagnosed with breast cancer. My doctor immediately agreed and put in the referral. The hospital called and we set the appointment for May 6th. I was told not to put lotion on my breasts or wear deodorant.

The morning of my mammogram I was nervous. I had lots of thoughts. “What if they pop my implants?” “What if there is something wrong with my breasts?” “What if this is where I find out I already have breast cancer?” I wore my Super Mama t-shirt and leggings.

The mammogram wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I actually think that my implants made it easier on me. I have very thin breast tissue and when I had my mammogram at 16 it hurt. But this time it didn’t. As the tech came over to set up the next scan she noticed that my right breast had some discharge. She didn’t seem concerned, however I knew that discharge was something my mom had said she had for years leading up to her diagnosis. After my mammogram was over and I was driving home I called and set up a follow up with my doctor for May 21. Then I called my mom. She agreed that I made the right choice to do a follow up.

And then, I let it go from my mind. I had a busy few days, we had family photos, it was Mother’s Day, my birthday was coming up, we went hiking. Until May 11th. I got a call that rocked my world. It was Monday, just 5 days after my mammogram.

I will tell that story next month as part of my series on “All About Breasts” and sharing my journey with a family history of breast cancer and navigating my health.

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