Monday, April 18, 2011

Spilling the Beans

Would you do me a favor? If you are a woman, age 40 or over, and you haven't had a mammogram in the past year, please call your doctor and ask if you should. Yes, it's a little uncomfortable. Yes, it's one more appointment to keep. But for that small sacrifice, you might be preventing something much worse.
October floor graphic 2photo © 2009 Roswell Park | more info (via: Wylio)
In the past week or two, I've learned way too much about calcifications (distribution, morphology), DCIS, BI-RADS categories, and stereotactic biopsy.  It's amazing how quickly we learn the terminology when it becomes personally relevant.

It started with a letter that arrived about a week after my routine annual mammogram.  (I say "annual" even though I'd procrastinated for five months past the one-year mark.)  I was on my way out the door when the mail came, and I tore open the envelope just to be sure that everything was okay.

Your recent screening mammogram ... showed one or more findings that require additional imaging studies for a complete evaluation.

I was surprised but not overly worried.  I've been called back once before, and the additional studies showed that everything was fine.  This time it was just one more thing on an already full plate.

I called for an appointment and was able to get one for the same week.  After three hours and at least ten more films, the radiologist came in to talk with me.  (At my request, they had brought my husband from the waiting room so we could both meet with the doctor.)  It's kind of a blur, but a few words stick in my memory:  Inconclusive.  Calcium deposits.  Linear.  Biopsy.  Surgeon.

That was a Friday afternoon, and I couldn't reach my own doctor for a referral until Monday.  It was a long weekend, but not the kind of long weekend that we usually wish for!

Finally I spoke to the nurse at my doctor's office.  She said without hesitation that I should see a surgeon, and she gave me four or five names.  By eliminating the surgeons who don't participate in our insurance plan and the ones who aren't affiliated with the hospitals we prefer, I quickly narrowed the list to one.

The first available appointment was more than a week later.  Talk about the Longest. Week. Ever. ... and it's still not over:  my appointment is on Wednesday.

So that's where I am.  I've prayed for peace, I've prayed for strength, and I've prayed for healing.  I've prayed for wisdom for the doctor and wisdom for us to make the right decisions.  I've thanked God repeatedly for surrounding me with people who support me and love me.
prayer 2photo © 2009 kevin rawlings | more info (via: Wylio)
What has most surprised me is my emotional response to what might be diagnosed. From the start I haven't been afraid; I just resolved to rely on God and do whatever it takes to get through this.  Mostly, my concerns have been more about the practical details:  Who will homeschool my son, do the laundry, feed my family, etc., if I can't do it?

I'm finding, though, that I'm working through a process.  Every time I think I'm okay with this, I hit a new stage and start all over.  But through it all, I know that the Lord is in control.  He has a purpose for this, even though I can't see what that purpose is.  I don't need to have all of the answers, because I know He does.  And He has filled me with peace, just as He promised in His Word:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, New International Version, ©2011)


  1. Melissa,
    My prayers are with you as you wait a few more days for this next step. I've not been through a breast cancer scare but I have a colon cancer one. It's never anything we want to go through. I'm thankful that you have a good mindset about it. The Lord is faithful. Please keep us posted!

  2. Praying that the Lord continue to give you his peace as you walk through this trial.

  3. You are so right -- you don't have to have all the answers because you know He does.

    I'm praying for you, Melissa and will continue. Peace, peace, my friend.

  4. Praying for you. I walked in your shoes last year; who knew that you could have "dense fat tissue" there!

    ~ Ellen

  5. You know I am here if you need anything...
    Praying for answers and for the strength to face the days ahead...
    HUGS TO YOU and your family! :)

  6. My heart goes out to you and your family. My GOD show his plan and direction for your family in the near weeks. If by GOD's will, your test will come back harmless and life will continue to go on with hardship.
    I have reposted your blog onto mine, I hope you do not mind. From one CHRISTIAN to another, GOD bless you and your family!!

  7. Continuing to carry you in our thoughts and prayers...

  8. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I am pleased to hear that a surgeon was recommended. They sent my cousin directly to an oncologist who scared the daylights out of her. Without biopsy or testing beyond x rays he diagnosed her and scheduled a lumpectomy for the same week. An emotional wreck, she immediately called me. I told her not to go, he could not be certain by xrays and to call the original doctor. He agreed with me and sent her to a general surgeon. He confirmed my advice. Tuned out to be a bad infection under the nipple.

    You see we just never know with these things. God is control and will guide your path.

    God bless you and your family!


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