Thursday, January 3, 2013

LISTEN TO WHAT THE MAN SAID

My Garden - Summer 2006

The day to go to the Women’s Breast Health Centre to meet with the surgeon had arrived – August 4, 2006.  When Mike and I got there and sat in the waiting room I looked around at the others that were there and I felt so young.  I realize that I was 40 and all but everyone else that was waiting seemed so much older than me.  Most of the women were with their husbands and I thought that was so wonderful.  I had to fill out a bunch of forms before we could see the nurse.  Filling out those forms was a real slap in the face because it forced me to answer questions in writing on paper.  It made it all so real.  Maybe deep down I kept thinking that this was all a horrible nightmare and that I was going to wake up and everything would be the way it was before.  Actually writing down the answers on that form attached to the clipboard sort of shattered my hopes of that happening.  It was real.  I wasn’t going to wake up.  I was already awake.

When we got in to see the nurse, she explained to us what the surgeon would talk to us about. Then she left us alone in that pastel coloured room.  It was mint green, light pink, yellow and other pastel colours that I guess are supposed to make you feel relaxed and peaceful.  I have always hated pastel colours.

Anyway, the surgeon (I will refer to him as Dr. Surgeon) soon arrived and he did a terrific job explaining everything to us.  At this point we hadn’t actually seen any results nor did we know exactly what the results entailed.  Dr. Surgeon went through the mammogram and biopsy results with us.  He actually put the mammogram slide x-rays up on the light board thingy and showed us where the calcifications were showing up on the picture of my left breast.  What are calcifications you ask?  Well so did I.  They are small deposits of calcium that can indicate cancer and can be seen on mammograms.  I could see them when he pointed them out.  Actually I could see them even before he pointed them out.  He then explained the written results from the mammogram technicians and the biopsy report and gave us copies of everything.

My mammogram results from the medical imaging office stated that they had done a mammogram of both breasts and an ultrasound of the left breast.  The mammogram showed multiple irregular calcifications that extended towards the underarm area and were consistent with malignant (cancerous) calcifications.  There was nothing abnormal in the right breast.  The ultrasound also showed an irregular mass containing tiny calcifications in the same area of the left breast and one lymph node in the armpit area that had some irregularity.  The lymph nodes are like filters that defend the body against infections but can also be a location for cancer to spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).
Me with Bailey (our portie) &
 Kessie (my brother's boxer) - Summer 2006

I had never heard the word metastasize before.  I think it is the scariest word ever.

The conclusion was that the changes in my left breast were consistent with malignancy and that a stereotactic core biopsy was suggested for diagnosis of tissue.  Then it said “BI-RADS CATEGORY 5” in big letters followed by “Probably malignant and surgical consultation and biopsy recommended.”  Yikes.  I was concerned about the BIG LETTERS.  I did some research and found out that the American College of Radiology has a system established called the Breast Imaging Reporting and Database System (BI-RADS) that guides the route to be followed for each diagnosis.

There are five categories including:

Category 0 - need additional imaging evaluation
Category 1 - negative
Category 2 -  benign (harmless tumour and not cancerous) finding
Category 3 - probably benign finding – short interval follow-up suggested
Category 4 - suspicious abnormality – biopsy should be considered
Category 5 - highly suggestive of malignancy – appropriate action should be taken
Category 6 - known biopsy-proven malignancy–appropriate action should be taken

I was classified in category 5.  Hence the biopsy that had followed the mammogram and ultrasound.


Listen to What the Man Said - Paul McCartney & Wings


Wishing you the happiest year ever!
May 2013 bring you good health and much joy.

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