When Mammogram Results Show Findings | A Breast Exam Story

by happynutritionist

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I have a personal story to share that is important to read any time of the year.

My husband and I woke up to a beautiful sunny start to the weekend. In spite of that, I was feeling a little melancholic. I couldn't pin down a reason, it's just something that comes on me now and then. My husband, sweetheart that he is, came into the room with coffee and my breakfast. I told him thank you, but I wasn't ready to get up yet, was feeling a little tired.

I looked out the large bedroom picture window across to the forested "mountain" across our lake and noticed how pretty it looked against the beautiful clear blue sky. I told God, who I talk to often, and myself that I had nothing to feel melancholic about, and dozed off to get a bit more sleep.

I'd like to share what happened during the rest of the day with you, and take you along on my health journey. I hope that my breast exam story is helpful to someone, or there is no reason to share it.

Intro Image Credit: Taken out the bedroom window across the lake on a day when there was a rainbow. Rainbows are a beautiful symbol of a promise from God.

by Claudia Meydrech aka happynutritionist
New on Wizzley - August 2015

A letter with my Mammogram results arrived

And it wasn't what I expected

After I got up and had my coffee and breakfast, my husband announced that he wanted to get me out of the house.

It had been a very unusual summer for us. My husband was laid off, either temporarily or permanently, we wouldn't know until the end of August.

Image taken by me
Image taken by me

My son moved out in July of that year, something that was necessary and perhaps a bit overdue, he's a sweetheart and as much as I knew he needed to move on, I missed him. But hubby and I had an empty nest for the first time, I had looked forward to that.

Like many others, we are experiencing uncertainties. Of course I know that my uncertainties aren't uncertainties to God, but being the human that I am, my first reactions don't always reflect my faith, unfortunately.

But back to that day. I went to shower, dress, and get ready for our outing. My husband knocked on the door to tell me that something I had ordered had arrived in the mail. I continued to fix my hair and put on a little makeup, then came out of the bathroom, and he said "you also got a letter from the hospital, it looks like they found a little something".

My heart fell to the floor, and I almost did as well, "oh no, oh no, oh no" I kept saying, then read the letter, "I can't believe it, I just can't believe it", and feeling dizzy, I went to lie down.

The important paragraphs from my mammography results

Scary words to read
The words that scared me
The words that scared me

Have you ever received a mammogram result with a "finding"?

Did it turn out to be cancer?

After I read the letter with my initial mammogram results, and had calmed down as much as I as able to under the circumstances, I decided to call the doctor to see if she was on call, looking for reassurance. I also made a mental note to call two friends who have recently experienced breast cancer to see if letters stating that there is a finding in your breast from your mammogram are common. I needed to talk to people who had been through this.

I got the doctors answering service, and she paged my doctor, who immediately called me back. She told me not to let this spoil my weekend, that the digital testing is so sensitive now, that more letters like this are sent out, because they do see more things, but they are often nothing, or warning signs that will need watching. I was to call on Monday when she was in the office and could read the actual mammogram results sent to her by the breast care center at my hospital, then ask that the images also be sent to her so she could see them herself. So I wait until Monday.

If you received a call or letter stating there was a "finding" what did your followup tests show?

Please take a moment to share your experience if you have one, it will be helpful to any visiting this page for answers or reassurance.

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How a Mammogram or Mammography is Done

It is a quick outpatient test and I have never found it to be painful

What my Breast Cancer Survivor Friends Suggested

It is reassuring to speak to people who have been there

After talking to the doctor, I called two different friends who have recently had breast cancer treatments. I wanted to know what they thought about the letter that I received. Did they get a letter telling them to come back for further tests, or a call? Was this a normal way of handling things...sending someone a letter rather than a call?

One friend told me that they had called her to come right back after she got home from her mammogram. It had been a few years ago for the other friend, but she thinks she remembers getting a letter.

But what blessed my heart about both of these woman was the fact that each turned my focus upward, toward God, telling me to trust Him with the details, no matter what they involved. They both also told me that their breast cancer has become their ministry. One gave me a few scriptures from the Bible to look up and write on index cards, I recognized some of them and began speaking them to myself as a reminder to keep my focus where it should be.

I didn't come away from those calls with an answer related to the letter that I could stand on, but did come away with hope and promises to stand on.

One of those verses was:

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

Image taken by me
Image taken by me

We did go out for the afternoon after all

And will share the rest of the story below

Despite my reluctance, my husband, Paul, insisted that we get out of the house and just ride around. A local air show was taking place, and though we couldn't afford tickets, we stopped at a spot to watch the planes from a distance. Then we drove up some familiar and beautiful country roads we like to travel.

Paul wanted to take me out to dinner...the driving around was fine, but my stomach was still a bit upside down, and I didn't have an appetite, so we bought some fresh corn from a roadside stand, and came home and cooked up corn on the cob and a couple of huge organic sweet potatoes we had purchased that week for a simple but delicious dinner.

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An Asymmetry in the Left Lower Breast is what they said I had

Which would you prefer, results included in the letter or not?
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My Follow-Up Visit

An image in view as soon as I walk in??

I will never forget my follow-up visit. I was a nervous wreck. I changed into the robe to go get another mammogram, and as I walked into the room for the mammogram, facing me is a big screen with the image of my previous mammogram with a circle around the area of concern. I could clearly see a white spot, and am still surprised they had me see this before confirming there was anything wrong.

I had the follow-up Mammogram, and thankfully, on the spot, they were able to tell me that there was nothing to be concerned about, it was overlapped tissue or something, what a huge relief.

I still do not understand why they put an image of my previous mammogram in plain site, saying nothing about it, but it was so obvious what I was seeing.

But I will tell you that the experience has made me very sensitive to those who receive news that they may have cancer and need further tests.

Results of the second mammogram
Image taken by me
Image taken by me

False Positive and Negative Mammogram Digital Imaging Result Statistics

There has been a lot of controversy about false positives since they started using digital imaging
Image taken by me
Image taken by me

When I was doing some research online about digital mammograms, there were quite a few articles stating that there has been an increase in false positives since they started to use digital mammograms. (This is different from the "false negative" statistics shown in my image). My view, in layman's terms, is that yes, there may be more false positives because you can see so much, you should have seen how clear my images were! Amazing. Plus new images have to be compared to the old type of image, which seems like it would be impossible (remember, I'm a novice), so it seems that you have to start out again with a base set of digital images to compare with in future mammograms. Now that the Breast Center has new digital images on file to compare with, I would hope that next year things would be different.

PLUS, just as it may be easier to see things that, when viewed again, aren't serious, so it is easier to see things that are potential problems early, when they are very tiny. DON'T avoid mammograms just because you hear there are more false-positives. I'm not going to.

Interval Breast Cancer Statistics - How many get new findings between mammograms

This was printed on the form I received before I left
Image taken by me
Image taken by me

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I forgot to tell you what happened the next weekend

Funny if it weren't so not funny:-)

As I said, I went for my follow-up on Tuesday, was told all was fine, and given a paper stating so.

So the next Saturday comes along, and I jokingly say to my husband as he goes to get the mail from the mailbox "At least this week there won't be a scary letter from [the hospital]".

He comes in the door with a funny little grin and stack of mail, and says "there's a letter from [the hospital]", I say "there is not", he says "oh yes there is", and hands me a letter that looked exactly like the one from the previous weekend from the Breast Center.

First thought - everything is fine, they are just sending another letter to confirm it.

Second thought - they realized that the pictures weren't as good as they thought and want more.

Thankfully, the first thought was right BUT, does this mean that no matter when I go to the hospital, I'll always get the letter on Saturday? Hmmm, I'm going to have to give them a little talking to when I go next year, I told myself, and I did just that.

Updated: 08/26/2015, happynutritionist
 
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Guestbook: The story shared on this page happened a couple of years ago...do you have a more recent story?


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happynutritionist on 01/08/2016

@MBC I hope they were good results, I'll hop over for a visit and see if you wrote anything yet.

MBC on 12/23/2015

Yes, just got my results on 12/21/15 - today's the 23rd. I may write about it here myself.

happynutritionist on 12/02/2015

@Veronica They have us go once a year from age 40 I believe it is up, it is covered as a preventative on our insurance...so no cost above the cost of insurance...no excuse not to go, and still important.

Veronica on 09/19/2015

I have my mammogram done every three years and your story confirms to me that I am doing the right thing by going. I didn't know that cancers could develop between going though ; interval cancers.

YOU are a very strong person and obviously your faith makes you strong. You are a fine example to us all. Thank you .

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