Mammogram

1 Dec

It all started in 2008. I didn’t notice it, but Aaron felt a lump in my boob. About the size of a cherry. Straight away, I booked an appointment with my GP. I took my top off and laid before him as he pressed on my boobs in a small, circular motion, feeling for any lumps. Yeah, awkward. But stuff like that always is. He sent me for an ultrasound and core biopsy at the hospital.

Not cancerous. Phew.

A few months later, I got pregnant with Hannah and the lump grew. The doctor told me it was just the hormones.

When I started breastfeeding Hannah, it grew even more. To the size of a golf ball. I was sent to a specialist who sent me to a different hospital for a mammogram and a fine needle biopsy. Have you ever had a mammogram?

Let me enlighten you on the whole experience. First, you get your gear off from the waist up.  Then someone grabs your boob and places it on a flat thing sticking out from a giant mammogram machine. You stand there in an awkward position whilst a moving plate comes down and squishes your poor booby to approximately pancake width. Yeah, not fun. Add to that breastfeeding and you get a pancake that’s squirting EVERYWHERE. I’m not talking about just a bit of leaking, I mean projectile, flying-across-the-room-like-a-fountain squirting. The machine that was perfectly clean when I started was dripping in milk.  The floor had a great big puddle, and the mammogram technician (whatever they are technically called) also copped some breast milk. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to be showered in milk when she went to work that day. Needless to say, I was rather mortified.

And that was only the first go. Then they put your boob on there kind of sideways, with the machine plates turned, and then they have to do both front and side on the other boob. When I was finished the room pretty much looked like the murder scene of a milk carton.

mammogram

Getting a mammogram

Still, no cancer. Phew. But due to the lump’s size, I was supposed to have it out anyway, after I finished breastfeeding Hannah.

I didn’t want to wait on a huge long waiting list for “elective” surgery to get the lump removed and not be able to have another baby for who knows how long, so instead, we had Daniel.

When I stopped breastfeeding him, I went to a specialist who did a quick ultrasound and sent me to have more tests done. He thinks the lump could be in the ducts, and such lumps have the potential to turn cancerous. If it is that sort of lump, I’ll need to have the lump (and the others, I have more, they just aren’t nearly as large) removed, as well as all of the ducts. If not, then just the lumps.

I went for my tests on Thursday while Hannah was at preschool, and Daniel was at daycare.

As soon as I sat down in the mammogram room, I noticed a poem on the wall. I should have taken a photo of it for your pleasure (er…more like pain), but basically it went on and on about how much mammograms hurt and suck. Thanks for that, I was already dreading the pancaking, and that just made me feel like bolting.

There is no modesty with mammograms. It’s “Ok, take off your clothes from the waist up, then come over here.” Completely topless, I sashayed over to the lady, boobs hanging out everywhere (well, not really, since I don’t really have much in the boob department, after they deflated from nourishing 2 kids for a year each). She positioned me in front of the machine, then grabbed my boob and attempted to stick it on the flat plate, which wasn’t so easy since I don’t really have any boobs for the plate to hold up. At least this time, the lady, the floor, and the machine remained milk free.

I, on the other hand, held my breath and clenched my fists as my lack of boobs felt like they were going to burst as they got pancaked.

As soon I was done getting flattened, it was time for my ultrasound and biopsy. According to my specialist, I was to get a fine needle aspiration. I know because I read it on the referral slip. The technician thought it would be of benefit to biopsy another 2 lumps as well.

She started with the smallest lump. First, there was a shot of anaesthetic. Which surprised me because last time I had a fine needle biopsy, they just went for it. It stung, but it was pretty quick.

After the anaesthetic, they put the needle in and moved it around for a while, collecting the innards of the lump. Then, they did it TWICE more for that lump. Then another shot of anaesthetic for the next lump, followed by 3 more biopsies.

And finally, they got to the giant lump. “We’ll do a core biopsy for this one.” They told me. Great.

First came the anaesthetic. When I looked up, she had the scalpel. Or razor blade. Or whatever that sharp cutty thing is.

“I’m not going to feel this right? Because last time I had a core biopsy, I could feel the cut and they had to give me another shot of anaesthetic inside the cut, which was horribly painful.” Seriously, it sucked.

“We’ll just test now. Does this feel like just pressure, or does it hurt?” She asked as she pressed the point of the scalpel on my boob.

“Hurts.” One more shot of anaesthetic did the trick. I couldn’t feel a thing when she made a small incision in which to put the gigantic core biopsy needle into. It’s not just a needle, it’s more like a gun thing. They press a button and it makes a very loud noise, much like a piercing gun, taking a cylindrical sample from the core of the lump. I was expecting the noise this time though. The first time I had a core biopsy, I nearly jumped off the table.

“This sample is bigger, so I’ll just need to get two samples.”

After the second, they looked at the sample for a bit, whispered a little and decided to go in for a third.

“Does it look weird?” I asked. “like it’s milky? Because last time I had a biopsy, the lump was full of milk.”

“There is a milky substance in it.”

That doesn’t worry me at all. At my last fine needle biopsy, they stuck their needle in and it filled right up with milk. I know it was milk because they tested it.

So, Four needles full of anaesthetic, 6 fine needle biopsies, 3 core biopsies, one cut with a scalpel, and 2 hours later, I was free to go. After 20 minutes of laying half naked on the table putting pressure on my boob with some gauze to stop the bleeding, of course. Now I await my results. I’m quite sure they haven’t turned cancerous, but I’m also quite sure I’m going to need to have all my ducts out. Sigh.

If you, or someone you know has, or had cancer, www.someonewith.com is a great online shop for specialist products (i.e. mastectomy bras), and so is HopeFULL, who specialise in nutrition for people undergoing chemo and find it hard to eat due to nausea and other side effects of treatment (but they also have kits for toddler nutrition too).

*This is NOT a sponsored post. In case you were confused.

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

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4 Responses to “Mammogram”

  1. sleepless at sunset December 2, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Fingers are crossed that your results come back clear… Eeekkk I haven’t had a mammogram yet. I wasn’t aware that they were painful 😦

    • Mommy Adventures December 2, 2012 at 6:20 am #

      They are, but only for a few seconds. Then the plates are released. Not fun.

  2. Renee C. December 4, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    Here’s hoping for the best outcome! Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s important to share experiences like this so women can know what to expect. The unknown can be so terrifying. Hugs x x

    • Mommy Adventures December 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      It sure can! It certainly helps to know what to expect. I think so anyway….

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