“The doctor wants you to get a second mammogram.”
Those were the word that welcomed me on Tuesday morning when I went to see my new gynecologist. I was actually there to get a new ultrasound of my right ovary because it had been a long time since the first and my new doctor wanted to see how things were down there. I was not expecting to be given a ‘script for a second mammogram. Instantly my mind went into a panic.
“What? Why?” I asked. Of course the receptionist couldn’t tell me. They can’t. Only the doctor can. But I needed to know if only to calm the rising panic in my head. She still couldn’t tell me.
Being told you need to get a second mammogram is terrifying. It’s terrifying because it usually means they saw something in the first one that made them want to get a second, closer look, and until it gets done and the doctor can give you the result you are filled with dread. It’s exactly how I felt for two whole days.
I told W about needing the second mammogram and he was so calming about it. I was speaking quickly into the phone, pacing back and forth on the sidewalk just outside of the hospital, thinking scary thoughts. I needed him to be calm. I needed him to soothe my fears and he did – at least a good portion of them because it would have been impossible for him to take them away completely. Not for something like this. But he was sure things would be okay. I hoped he was right.
I called later that day to make the second appointment. Because of the new job I had to try for a very early appointment, a very late one or one on Saturday. The only Saturday that was available wouldn’t have been for another week and a half. There was no way I would wait that long. It had only been a few hours since I was told to get it and I was already feeling anxious. Where would my head be in a week and a half? No, I had to get in sooner than that. The earliest? The day after tomorrow at 7 a.m. I took it.
I told W that I had gotten the early appointment and he asked if I wanted him to go with me. His offer took me by surprise. He doesn’t live in the city, you see, he lives in a suburb just outside of the city and it was an incredibly early appointment. I felt bad about making him get up early simply to drive me to the appointment. But he said it was no trouble and that he wanted to be supportive. I told him he didn’t have to. The next day he asked me again if I was sure that I didn’t want him to go with me. The truth was that I did. I won’t deny that I was feeling myself get scared about why I needed the second mammogram. So I told him yes, that if he could and if it wouldn’t be an inconvenience that I would really like it if he would go with me. He asked at work if he could take the morning off and they said yes.
He came by the house at 6:15 to pick me up. We arrived at the hospital a short while later. I was the first person to be seen. The routine was the same except this time I was worried about what they might find. How could it be something bad? There is no history of breast cancer in my family, there isn’t any history of cancer at all. I’ve never smoked, I rarely drink and I exercise a lot. I run marathons for Pete’s sake! It had to be an error on their part. maybe the machine had simply taken a bad picture. Still, I was worried.
They called me in, I took off my top and put on a robe they gave me. The nurse who was going to take the scan was very nice. She explain that this time around they would be squeezing down on my (right) breast a bit harder than the first time. She wasn’t kidding either, it hurt. She took two pictures and then told me to wait while the doctor looked them over, in case an ultrasound were to be needed.
She left me alone in that small room with the big machine. Alone with my thoughts. Awful, scary thoughts. My kept jumping from the “what ifs” to my former bestfriend’s sister, R, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and then passed away a little over a year later, to W who was sitting in the waiting room while I had the scan done. W who I had just met, who I was so into and who was so into me. The W that had told me that if there was a reason to worry after the scan that we would figure things out then and that he wasn’t going to go anywhere. I thought about all of those things as I sat in the room, waiting for her to come back with the results. Needless to say I was a wreck. I suspect that I was probably only in there for about 8-10 minutes but it felt like an eternity.
She knocked on the door before coming in and the moment she did I saw the big smile she had on her face. It was all good. There wasn’t anything to worry about. It turned out to be just some “overlapping tissue”. It took a few seconds for it to register in my brain that it was not, in fact, a lump that they had seen. I had to ask her again if I really was fine. She said yes, still smiling. I stood up from the chair and she gave me a hug, the relief washing over me. She let me change back into me clothes and led me back to the waiting area where W was. As soon as I saw him I broke out into a huge smile and told him I was fine. He hugged me and told me how happy he was to hear that.
As we walked, hand in hand, back to the parking garage I couldn’t help but wonder how many times the nurse had to go back and tell someone the opposite of what she had told me. I could only imagine what it must feel like not just for her but for the woman getting the news. I held on to W’s hand tightly as I thought of that.
So I’m good. At least up top. I still have to go back to see my doctor for the results of the ultrasound of my ovary. That will happen in Monday. I really hope the results are just as good. For now, I’m going to get to spend part of my weekend with W. I’m going to head over to his place after work tomorrow. I can’t wait for 5 p.m. to get here.