My Story: Breast cancer and the importance of early detection

“What if …..”
Walton Living magazines fall/winter issue published last month. I hope you got the chance to pick up your copy as the stories and photography are without complaint! One, in particular, caught my eye and that was the article reviewing the new 3-D imaging breast cancer detection equipment now being offered by Piedmont/Walton here in Monroe. Being the inquisitive female that I am, I recognized this as an opportunity to “check it out” for myself. I hadn’t had a mammogram for a few years (who am I kidding, it’s been 10!). I’m a pretty healthy person, no worries there. I eat right, get a good bit of exercise each day (my Pyrenees takes me for a walk at least twice). So I thought, OK, let’s do it and made the appointment. 
3-D Image Breast Cancer Detection Machine. Photo credit: Piedmont Walton
The mammogram itself was very similar to the 2-D images that we ladies all know and love. Very similar! The same procedure is followed, but the difference is in the imaging. Flat images vs. 3-dimensional images. It’s kind of like watching black and white TV vs. the now not-so-new HD TV. After my test was finished I was told that the doctor would be sent my results and would contact me. Well, he did contact me with a letter stating that my test came back with a blotchy image on my right breast and I would be wise to have a diagnostic mammogram to see just what was what. So again I thought, OK, let’s do it. 
Round two: My second mammogram was scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21. I arrived at the designated time and checked into the Women’s Diagnostic Center at Piedmont/Newton in Covington. That’s where the diagnostic imaging equipment was located. I was a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect when I was greeted by some very sweet staff members. I was led to the “undressing room” after being handed a very soft and warm pink robe. NO paper gowns here! And then I waited in the waiting room with several other women wearing a similar pink robe and we started talking. Each lady was there for a second more in-depth mammogram. Everyone in the room was very pensive and all were wondering, as I was, if everything would be okay. I was told before I had the second mam that if there was not a conclusive result with the images I was there for, an ultrasound would be required. And as it happened, I did need an ultrasound. So yet again I thought, OK, let’s do it.
Round three: The ultrasound was done immediately, I waited in the main waiting room until I was called away for the results. Into the room came the RN, the Cancer Navigator (will have to explore that title a little) and the radiologist. I looked at them and said, “this isn’t good news is it?” They very simply explained that I did have a very, very small irregular nodule in my breast. It was so small that I couldn’t feel it. They explained that I would have to have a biopsy to determine if it was cancer or not. The radiologist suspected that because the nodule was not round but elongated there would be a 70 – 80% chance the biopsy would be positive. 
Here’s where my story stops but just for the moment. I will continue this journey and keep you informed as I move forward. I am waiting now for the appointment scheduled for the biopsy.
Why am I sharing this with all of you? I thought long and hard about telling my story to you as it is quite private. But I remembered the words the radiologist said looking me straight in the eye, “this is why we have a mammogram.” There’s a lot of “if’s” here. If I hadn’t read the article by Piedmont Walton in Walton Living magazine, “if” I had by-passed the idea of having a mammogram, “if” I had waited another few years, etc. The message is clear here ladies, early detection! IF one woman reads this and takes the step to be checked, I will be happy. Early detection will save lives.
Round four: coming soon.
Your friend, Melanie Ann

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