Bright and early this morning, I had my annual mammogram. Since my sister’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2013, mammograms have never been the same, emotionally. Physically, yes, my breasts and chest still hurt after getting flattened like a pancake.
But, emotionally, I can’t help but think about my sister and how she was diagnosed. While she was taking care of another appointment at Kaiser Permanente, the nurse looked at her electronic file and saw that she was due for a mammogram. My sister is faithful, as are my mother and I, in getting annual mammograms because we’ve known several friends who’ve gotten the disease. The nurse, then, saw that there was an opening for a mammogram that day within 10 minutes, and urged my sister to go ahead and get it done that day.
She thought nothing of it, did it, and carried on with her busy day. Within two days, they called her, told her they saw a lump that needed to be biopsied. Again, she went and had that done, and carried on with yet another busy day. The next day, we all found out that the lump was breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.
The fear in her voice as she shared the news with me was so familiar to me. I felt that I was in a unique position to support her and calm her down as she so often has done for me after I’ve received horrible medical news. As a family spread all over the country, we prayed during conference calls and kept track of every treatment along with her. Thank God we can all now say that my sister is a breast cancer survivor—woot!
But, the words breast cancer have never had such a personal meaning, and hearing them and the word mammogram still shakes me up.
As for my mammogram today, I pray that they successfully seek out any and all little lurking lumps that could be deep within these dense breasts of mine. While they look great for a 51-year old woman, all perky and voluminous, the reality is that dense breasts are six times more likely to grow cancerous tumors than non-dense breasts, according to BreastCancer.org. The site also says that dense breasts can also make it harder for mammograms to detect breast cancer because “breast cancers (which look white like breast gland tissue) are easier to see on a mammogram when they’re surrounded by fatty tissue (which looks dark).
After my mammogram, I realized, gratefully, that it’s Thursday, acupuncture day! I arrived early to give Dr. F a copy of the results of my tests for Lyme disease co-infections.
Our normal acupuncture sessions are usually swift and efficient so that she remains on time. The receptionist takes me to one of several rooms filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of tranquility. Then Dr. F comes in and asks me what hurts the most. She proceeds to precisely “poke” me (as my Hubby says) with the acupuncture needles.
Today, the routine was a little different. We actually took a few minutes to talk about the latest with the Lyme disease tests. She’s so amazed at how this is unfolding—with the positive tests for active Babesia duncani and Bartonella. I am, too. Once we were done talking, she proceeded with the normal routine. Needles in. Heat lamp on my feet. Soft music on. Lights out. Ahhh, needles do your thing….