As you read this I am either at the hospital undergoing a surgical breast biopsy or I'm finally home, and am holding down the couch. I wavered about whether to share this personal aspect of my life with you or not, and decided to share. I know that since I received my diagnosis of "atypical ductal hyperplasia" a few weeks ago it has weighed heavily on me, and I have been seeking as much information as I could. It seems that many women don't talk much about this, and I think that might be a mistake. Turns out a close friend had this procedure (essentially a lumpectomy, but in my case there is no lump) some years ago, and all is fine with her. My reason for letting you know is so that you'll be reminded to attend to this aspect of your health as a woman.
It hadn't even been a year since I had a mammogram, but I went in for some painful fibrous cysts on the left side - a condition that many women have and can be managed in various nonsurgical ways. A comprehensive (read: painful) series of mammograms ensued and they found what they called some "suspicious" looking calcifications on the right side, the side I hadn't been having problems with. A few days before leaving for Mexico I underwent a sterotactic biopsy procedure involving a table with a hole in it and a computer-guided needle. I'll spare you the details about that one but it wasn't much fun at all - I'm pretty sure that this device is also in the Medieval Torture Museum in Buena Park.
I got the phone call with the results when my friend and I were changing planes at LAX enroute to Mexico. While no cancer per se was found, this is a "pre-cancerous" diagnosis and they want to take some more surrounding tissue to be sure that nothing was missed. Sometimes these cells turn into cancer at some point in the future, and sometimes they don't. I don't have much extra meat in this location to spare for their tests but in this case I'll make an exception. Clearly this additional test is the right thing to do, even if it means my nerves are in a jumble and I'll be useless for a couple of days. At least there's some sedation involved in this procedure.
I feel fortunate that there is no history of breast cancer in my family, but the Bay Area is known for having a much higher percentage of it than other areas, particularly in the North Bay (I live in the South), and you just don't know. I have lost a number of people I love to cancer, and it's nothing to be taken lightly. Early detection and treatment is everything.
So, I'm sharing this so that you'll remind yourself to get to your doctor for those painful but critically important tests. It's a real chore sometimes to maintain a healthy female body, but I don't care to consider any of the alternatives. Give your boobies some love and make that phone call. Enjoy this mammogram cartoon as a reward when you've got it scheduled.
And now enjoy this: