Sunday, February 19, 2006

Breast Cancer Awareness

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of it's sorrows, it empties today of it's strength."

-Corrie Ten boom

The other day my favorite girl in the land, Phinney, sent me a link to The Breast Cancer Site. They have a program running right now where you can help ladies who either have no medical insurance or who are low income receive a free Mammogram, just by visiting their site each day and clicking the appropriate button. That's right...every time you click on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button, or make a purchase at The Breast Cancer Site's store, you generate funding for women in need. It was ironic, Phinney's email came to me at an unusual moment, and a timely one, see I had just made the decision to schedule an appointment for myself to have a Mammogram. It seems that I have a lump in my left breast that wasn't there a month ago, and it is a pretty good sized one, which means it has grown rather quickly.

Yikes. Things might be getting a while lot more interesting for me. I first found it early last week, and immediately went into some very comfortable denial. I am prone to cystitis and therefore that is what it must be, or so I had decided to think of it. By Tuesday, I thought I better talk it all over with Alan. He is pretty level headed and he would more then likely tell me that it was nothing. Nope! He didn't let me off the hook. What a thing to discuss on Valentine's Day. Sigh. Wednesday, I went to see my therapist, and I took my portfolio book with me to show her the new photos I have done lately. It was a wonderful attempt at manipulating the conversation onto a safe topic. Somehow, I ended up telling her about my fears. Silly me. Another someone who wasn't willing to let me off that hook. I promised her I would make an appointment for a Mammogram sometime in the next month or so, as soon as I got my courage up. She was not pleased. :(

I went home, cried some, looked up some Breast Cancer facts on the Internet and called and schedule an appointment for about a month from now. While I was doing my Internet search a good friend "Dan" signed on, and we chatted for a few minutes. He asked me how I was feeling, and I mentioned, in passing, what was going on for me. It was the first time I actually told a friend. He got pretty angry with me. Someone close to him had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer several years ago, but she was lucky, they caught it in time and today she is doing wonderful. "If she would have waited another couple weeks for the Mammogram, it all could have gone a lot worse. These things change quickly Carly." Sigh. He had been the harshest one of all. He spoke straight. Before we signed off he made me promise to change the appointment. Since I promised him I would...I did. My new appointment is in 2 weeks.

It's just that it has been so much the last few years. One thing right after another. Can I handle this also? God, the thought of the test alone has me scared to death. Will it be painful? My current condition of Fibromyalga sends these missignals to my nerve endings telling me I am in pain, when it fact if it wasn't for the condition, it would be a minor annoyance and not the overwhelming aching I have most days. So, when I have my test, will it be unbearable or like I said, a minor annoyance of pain? Sigh. I have had some time to think it all over, and if it is cancer I really only have one option. Face it! Be prepared for additional changes in my life, so many brave women have gone through this, what right do I have to be a coward about it? So, with resolve to take things one step at a time, I got out my Breast Cancer awareness pin, put it on, and circled the date of my appointment on my calendar.

No illness will ever define me. I want to write. I want to take photographs, I want to be the kind of woman that people will be able to say one day, "she always tried her best." It makes me sad to think I might lose my hair, but I guess I could wear hats. It makes me sad that it will be difficult on Alan and Elvis, but they say we will handle it. It makes me sad that I might have to lose time in my therapy with Sarah, but she said we can have sessions over the phone and maybe the Internet. It makes me sad there might be one more reason that I can't take pictures, but like a good friend once told me, I can try setting up the tripod in the bedroom. There is just no good reason to not take care of this, except for the fact that I am scared to death I won't be good at it. Does that make sense?

OK, here is what I need from you. If you have ever had this test could you please leave me a comment and tell me what to expect? How long before I get the results? If they need to do a bad will that be? Please tell me whatever you feel comfortable sharing with me. Help me be more educated on this so I can take some of the fear out of it. The fear of the unknown is my greatest fear. I can hear the word cancer, as long as I have some idea where I go and what I need do next. And one more thing you can do for me...go and click that little button at The Breast Cancer Site everyday for those women who aren't as lucky as I am. Tell me I can do this. :(

Berkeley, California
February 16th, 2006
Late Evening


Karen Funk Blocher said...

I've had mammograms. Basically they squeeze the breast between two cold metal plates, take a picture, reposition you, and do it again. And again. It is uncomfortable, but not terrible. I pray it won't be terrible for you.

My breasts have always been lumpy. (I can't believe I'm saying this in public!) That's why I've always been terrible at the self-examination stuff. But none of it's ever been cancer. Maybe yours won't be, either, but you DO have to check it out. If I thought for one second I had something that wasn't there before, I'd be at Radiology Ltd. in a day or two.

As it is, though, I keep losing my referral. I'm way overdue for a mammogram - at least a year and a half overdue, I think. Got to do something about that! It's not dread that keeps me away. It's strictly matter of time, and getting organized, and having to tell Dr. L's people that I lost the sheet of paper again.

Hang in there. You can do this.


Nancy said...

Carly... I've had a few mammo's. And I'm also quite a baby and sensitive to pain. I must say that it's not so bad. It is definitely more uncomfortable than painful and it's quick, quick, quick (the discomfort).
I recently had a little scare...and was advised to get a sonogram (ultrasound) of the breasts. I was so incredibly scared and my mind went all the places yours my own way.
The Dr. felt that all I needed to do was to follow up with another sonogram in a few need for a biopsy. Whew! But in preparation of the potential biopsy, I asked around. The feedback that I got was that it was quick, easy and not very painful. More scary than anything.
My step mom has breast cancer and I'm watching her go through it like a champ. She's doing wonderfully now.
Good luck my dear friend... and yes, don't delay.

sunflowerkat said...

The mammogram is nothing to be afraid of. It's uncomfortable when they squash your breast between the plates for the photo...but it's quick. I think if they see something abnormal, you'll know quickly. Fortunately, mine have always been clean (knock on wood).

I'm well overdue for one now. Tell you what sweetie...I'll call and schedule one early this week. It IS the thing to do Carly, whether you feel a lump or not. Thanks for the kick in the ass.

If you want to me!!

Love you!!

Phinney said...

Carly, a mammogram is nothing to be afraid of for me. I've had it done at least 5 times now. They throw your boob up on the thing, then you have to hold on while they take it for a little ride (lean in, bend your knees and hang on !) I'm so glad you have your appointment coming up soon. I'd go with ya if I could. What a coincidence that I sent you the email at this time...or perhaps it's not a coincidence at all. And remember, just because you feel a lump, doesn't mean it's cancer. There are other things it could be. Don't worry unless they tell you to worry. Until then, think healing, think well, and think of me thinking of you. Love you. xo Phinney

Laura said...

mammograms are uncomfortable....squeezing the breast between two metal plates, yeah, it is uncomfortable. It can be made worse when your are premenstrual as some women have tender breasts then. It can also be made more unconfortable if you have a happy, perky tech.
Must she be so happy as she is smashing my meager boobage?
I had my first mammo 8 years ago (mommy dearest had breast cancer in herearly 40s). Because "young" breasts are more dense, my doc also ordered an ultrasound to followup so we have what they call a baseline of my normal. I get my mammo every year now.
I really feel for you. It is worrisome. take it one test at a time. Get through the mamogram first and see what they see.
Good luck!

Becky said...

I had my first baseline mammo last year. I was scared to DEATH because my mother had moaned about the process so much to me in the past. Apparently things have changed in recent years. There are guidelines set so they can't "mash" you past a certain point and the machines are much kinder to your poor boobies now than they used to be. I had a really nice tech. I joked with her about what an interesting job she has, handling naked boobs all day long. She laughed and said "you'd be amazed at the endless variety." The test turned out to be more akward than painful. I think that was the only time in my life I was happy to have small, squishy ones (rather than huge, firm ones). LOL

My Mom had a needle biopsy too, and given her tendency to whine and turn everything into a HUGE drama...she was surprisingly low key about it. They numb you and it's more a pressure thing than a pain thing. She said she was more scared of the results than the pain of the procedure (and that turned out to be no big deal). She was fine. Good luck to you!

Gaboatman said...

I'm sorry you have yet one more thing to worry about. Thank goodness Dan talked some sense into you about getting an earlier appointment. Chances are this is nothing to worry about, but if it does amount to something, the faster you act the better chance you have of successful treatment. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, my friend.

Solitary Dancer said...

Hi sweetie. Yep, I've been squished. You will get squished flatter than a pancake. But before you know it, it's over. You can do it and you will feel so much better afterwards.

Hugs my dear, dear friend.


Celeste said...

I found a lump in my breast. The doc sent me for a mammie and it did not show up, another one did that both of us missed. I had several 6 month followups on it and now they have decided it is okay. I pray that yours will be okay.

BoiseLadie said...

The sooner you go the better you'll feel. You'll know more after the mammo. My mom had a normal mammo in Oct 2004 and in Feb 2005, she noticed changes, in Mar 2005 was diagnosed with breast cancer. My point, cancer is a rapid changing thing, so getting in as soon as you can is best. I didn't know there were so many different types of breast cancer. My mom had one of the more uncommon types. Chemo and radiation treatments followed. She is cancer free today, and her hair is starting to come back. Me...during all this, I totally forgot to get my annual mammo. I was due in May 2005 and totally spaced it. I will call tomorrow to make my overdue appointment! It's not that bad, you'll be fine. Good luck to you.

fdtate said...

Being a member of the other sex, I don't have any experience or anything to pass along. Just well wishes.

Shelly said...

I had my baseline mammogram done when I was 38, then have had one every year from the time I was 40. I'm 52 now. I've had 1 needle biopsy, 3 core biopsies, and one delightful suctioning of a fibroadenoma (I have another one in the other breast, but it hasn't decided to grow, yet). I also get sonograms after every mammogram and my radiologists (I go to a wonderful office where the women doctors now outnumber the men) told me that sonograms are now considered standard procedure with mammograms. They catch a lot the mammograms don't, especially if you're cystic, which I also am.

Mammograms vary from discomfort to outright pain, which lasts for mere seconds and depends, in level of ouchie , on the size and density of your breasts. Mine are rather small, but fairly dense. Time of month is also a factor in discomfort.

There is, however, never an excuse, good or otherwise, to not get them done. A good friend of mine waited a tad too long and had a mastectomy which included removal of the lymph nodes, chemo, and radiation two years ago. So far, she's cancer-free, but she was damned lucky.

Wil said...

Sorry to get to this party so late! As this entry explained, I do these things with my wife, although I've never had my manboobs squished under the plates yet.

By now you'll have had this done and it'll be demystified for you. Just wanted you to know I sympathize.