Today over breakfast I told my mom, “The worst part is lying there alone in the room waiting for them to come back and tell you the news.”
“Oh, yes. That’s the worst part. Even once I got the news about my cancer it was better than just wondering. At least then, I knew what I was up against.”
My mother is a breast cancer survivor. She’s well on her way to her fifth anniversary of getting the “all-clear,” a milestone she’s looking forward to. And, fortunately, I am not dealing with a cancer diagnosis. But it seems I am destined to have to spend those excruciatingly slow minutes lying on the exam table, waiting for news, wondering if I’ll continue to be so fortunate.
Each year in June, along with the travel and the relaxation of having the kids away at camp, my annual mammogram comes due. Two years ago, after dutifully showing up for my baseline screening before I turned 40, I entered a long-lasting saga of testing that eventually turned out to be a completely benign condition. And, last year’s test blessedly ended with the standard “everything looks good” letter from the breast center and a “come back in a year rather than six months” from the breast specialist I now see thanks to the need for all the aforementioned testing.
So, I cruised into the women’s health center this year with less trepidation than last year. I endured the minor squishing and went to pick up my children without a lot of further thought about the whole process. Of course, it’s obvious by now that when I arrived home, I had another letter waiting for me. And, yes, I needed more screening. Ironically, on the breast not affected by the trials of two years ago.
Having been through the whole routine before, I found myself calmer this time. I also took it as a good sign that they’d requested additional mammography films rather than an ultrasound as they had when I needed additional testing before. I assured myself that they’d just gotten a bad shot the first time around.
That’s what the technician said as well when I showed up yesterday morning at the hospital. “Sometimes they just don’t get exactly what they need the first time around. We’re going to do some additional things to get a clear shot.”
But ten minutes later she said, “Well, they are going to want an ultrasound of this.” And with that I was whisked five rooms down the hall and two years back in time. I lay on the table as the technician wanded her way through the exam, taking pictures of the “something” that was there. After she left for the radiologist to read the results, I took deep cleansing yoga breaths and tried to calm myself.
It worked a bit, and texting Adventure Guy and emailing the August Moms to let them know what was going on made me feel less alone. Social networking devotion aside, I somehow didn’t feel this was Twitter or Facebook material. I stared at the screen trying to determine if the pictures looked like they had before. They didn’t.
That didn’t make me feel better. I moved the blinds aside and looked out the exam room window to see where I was. Note to Adventure Guy, I found the view of the fancy jewelry store at the shopping area across the street very reassuring.
By the time I’d finished imagining fabulous new settings for my wedding ring (it was right after our anniversary after all), the technician had arrived to tell me the results. I know enough about how things work to know this was a good sign. No radiologist arriving means no further tests.
At least not at this point. Yes, I’m entering the waiting game again. The doctor believes it is again a benign condition he’s looking at on those films. But he wants to retest in three months to make sure nothing has “changed.”
Usually, I’m all about change. It’s exciting. I can believe in it. But this time around, I’m all about the status quo. Let’s just hope whatever is hanging out in there buys into the plan.