Mammogram time at McCall Hospital… A couple good stories
Mccall Hospital is big … but this post is quite small and focuses on only one thing. It is time for your mammogram …
The St. Lukes McCall Medical and Mammogram Center Website is StLukesOnline.org.
If you visit that link, you’ll see a fairly small building. But that’s not the whole hospital either. This link shows a whole bunch of locations in the St. Luke’s system. There’s Childrens Specialty Center, a Children’s hospital, a variety of Medical Centers in different buildings and a rehabilitation hospital.
What about Mammograms?
I think you can get a mammogram in the little building – the St. Luke’s McCall Medical Center … but I’m not sure. I’ve never been there before. But let’s suppose you can, because it’s worth using as a talking point about breast cancer screening.
I’m a radiologist who does mammogram, breast ultrasound and biopsies. I work as part of organized screening programs as well as private practices and as a solo radiologist.
A woman will naturally want a center that is very convenient when she goes for mammography. This St. Luke’s McCall building looks ideal. A place that is organized to make the mammogram flow quickly, so you can get it done and get out and back to other daily errands or work.
A feminine-inspired decor is more relaxing, than a hospital decor
I hope they have that. But when mammography clinics go overboard with the hyper-feminine exaggerations in art and colors, then it can be a little distracting. Basically, if the place shows they care to make things relaxing and well- laid out it’s probably fine.
The staff at a mammography clinic, can either be new or experienced and calmly reassuring. I hope it’s the latter. So, patients may be asked to wait while the radiologist checks the mammogram. Furthermore, women may be asked for extra compression spot views or for ultrasound scans. Sometimes, staff may ask for a return follow-up appointment in 6 months. All the above can cause anxiety for women.
With experience, staff learn how to handle each individual situation with routine steps. The radiologist will not be surprised or mystified by anything … not anything. They’ve seen everything possible, time after time, year after year. So what seems new and scary to a patient, is routine to the radiologist, and usually the rest of the staff too.
What if the diagnosis is breast cancer?
No, nobody likes that. Everybody getting a breast cancer diagnosis is going to be, at first, having worries. Luckily, breast cancer is usually in the early stages when diagnosed by mammography which means it is usually completely curable.
Once a women hears the word curable, repeated for a number of days and nights, then it starts to sink in. A woman will begin to understand that the treatment will not be so difficult and a total cure is possible.
Indeed, there is disruption to one’s work schedule, dealing with medical appointments and some time off here and there to contend with. However, it is all doable especially with some self-help interventions such as physical activities and a healthy diet that is suitable for you.
Why You Need to Routinely Go for Breast Cancer Examinations
It is true that the risk of developing breast cancer is greatly influenced by age. So, always follow your doctors advice on breast cancer screening. It is also important for men to be aware of the symptoms of male breast cancer.
All in all, nobody knows what the future holds so a mammogram can rule out the worst. We all want to live a healthier lifestyle and early detection and treatment for breast cancer can and does save lives.
There are many claims, that if you have not hit your menopause, then there is no need to go for a mammogram test because the rates of cancer prevalence are usually very low. Looking back, I tend to refute all these claims. Had I waited for my menopause; which I estimated would come about 5 years later for me to go for breast scans, I would probably have been already dead before then. I went for my first mammogram when I was 38. Everything was okay then.
Having nothing to fear
I skipped my next two mammogram s and wouldn’t have gone for another anytime soon. What made me attend one was the fact that I was accompanying my late aunt for a mammogram. She was 70 by then and very bossy and loud. She actually shouted at me when I declined undergoing one until I gave in. Guess what, I was a victim. And I had scale 0 breast cancer.
It was something that I would not have detected on breast self-exam because it was just a tiny mass. Following the mammogram I had a clinical biopsy scan to confirm the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Even though my cancer was at a very early stage and had not spread it was estrogen and progesterone receptor negative. This means that there is a high chance of recurrence of the cancer. So my treatment team recommended the the best treatment option for me was removal of the breast.
How Lumpectomy Recovery Journey can be Traumatizing
However, I was not ready for that. My breast? No way! I spoke with my breast cancer treatment team for other alternative treatment options. That’s when they advised me on the idea of clinically removing the lump followed by several weeks of radiation. Although I was advised on what all that entails, I was ready to undergo the procedure no matter how long it took.
A month after everything aspect of the lumpectomy was deemed normal, I underwent the surgical procedure. All was okay. But the recovery bit was the toughest journey that I had to endure during that period.
It was traumatizing and scaring to undergo the 38 sessions of chemotherapy that defined my journey to healing. During that period, I also lost my job and my primary health insurance was threatening to withdraw my payment.
Everything became hell to me
I lamented not undergoing mastectomy instead. But it was too late. As each chemo session passed, I became more traumatized and gradually; and I started becoming depressed. There were nights that I woke up either sweating excessively or yelling from the nightmares that I had.
As much as my family members and particularly my husband tried to be there for me, intervening in the insurance issues and supporting me socially, I was still losing it. I felt like I had already lost the battle and I even skipped one chemo session because of the frustrations that I was undergoing. The second degree burns from the chemo were also very disappointing and made me loose all my confidence. And that is the sessions that made the difference between life and death.
Support during Chemotherapy Can Help a Victim Return to Normalcy
That day, the radiology therapist who was expecting me made a call. I informed her that I had given up and she was very upset. She insisted that we meet. I declined. Later that evening while we were having dinner, an unexpected guest knocked at the door. It was the therapist. She broke the news about my failure to attend the radiation to my husband who became furious about the whole issue. After a lot of deliberations, we agreed to undergo the chemo the following day with her promise that she would help me out recover emotionally.
The following day after chemo, she drove me and my husband to a local cancer center where I met other cancer survivors who were undergoing chemo. Apparently, there was a ‘chemo rehab’ at the center that helped patients undergoing therapy.
It is the rehabilitation; which changed me for the better and today I’m a different person. However, I was able to successfully complete the chemo sessions and recently the mammogram was normal. I believe that I won’t be experiencing any lumps in future. I thank all those who stood by me during those trying times.
The Lost of My Sibling my was My Source of Inspiration
My older and only sister, Maggie, passed three years ago after battling breast cancer unsuccessfully for a year. With that loss, she left me with this spirit of creating sensitization campaigns against breast cancer every October.
It all started when she called me to accompany her to the hospital she had receive a mammogram report; which indicated that further test were needed for the result to be conclusive. She was needed to undergo a more compressed mammogram. Whatever that meant, none of us understood it. At the hospital, the radiologist explained to us that though no lumps were detected in the initial mammo scan, there were indications of cancerous growth on booth of her breasts. That information only was shocking. A compressed mammogram scan was taken.
Despite the fact that we were promised to get the results after a week, they took a whole month to arrive. All that time we clung for hope and prayed for the worst not to happen. At times I blame the hospital for delaying the mammogram report despite our numerous calls. But maybe God had more purpose for my older Sis.
The Best way to Win a Losing Battle is by Teaming Up
The second mammogram report instructed her to undergo a biopsy as well as a MRI/ Ultrasound scan. And that is how she was diagnosed with Stage III. That how serious it was. No one could believe it. She was quiet young at 36 and the chances of breast cancer as dangerous as Stage III; which has a very low survivor rate was something that no one saw. It all caught us by surprise. We knew that we had a big fight ahead of us; a battle which we eventually lost no matter how we prayed for this to pass.
During the time that she was diagnosed by cancer and eventually till she departed, we shared a lot and that is when my journey of sensitizing people about breast cancer began. At that time, I opted to go and live at her place so that I could encourage her all through the tribulations. There was ever joy whenever I saw her smile or laugh at a joke no matter how weak her body was degenerating to each day.
Together we joined a local cancer support community
We also joined an online community where we always journal-led our activities in our fight against the life-threatening disease. We were determined to trample over it and we assured each other that in the event that we failed, then we would eventually make sure that we became an inspiration to others to fight the disease.
Sometimes on weekend we would visit other cancer patients that we knew or other cancer communities in neighboring towns to be with others. Through our endeavors we were much motivated and encouraged. We also made friends along the ways and this could be the hope; which made my sister to cling on her life for some time.
We All Need to Support those Afflicted
Long after she has gone, I have never left my spirit waver. I still join friends and other cancer survivors every month of October to go about sensitizing the importance of breast cancer screening as well as outsourcing funds to help support those from poor backgrounds who may not be at a position to access the services; especially those in developing countries.
We have been channeling the funds through various support organizations. But we hope that in the coming years, we will be at a position to establish our own organization to do the task.
Why Scanning is Essential for a Healthy Lifestyle
So I’m year and this is my fifth years being a cancer survivor. My journey wasn’t an easy one. In late 2008, I underwent a routine mammogram. This was my fourth year undergoing the scan and all had been alright all through. There was nothing for me to fear, and I made sure that I went for the checkup to ascertain that. Nonetheless, I had earlier lost my mom to breast cancer and never wanted that to happen to my children. However, three days after my routine scans, I received a mammogram report marked urgent from my physician. He wanted me to get in touch with the radiologist for further tests.
According to the mammogram reports; there was a probability that I had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). Furthermore, I didn’t want to take any risks and the following day, I was there to see the radiologist. After some discussions, she decided that we try a CAD scan and because she saw how nervous I was she promised to ensure that I got my results as early as possible. Actually, I got them before I left the office and true to the earlier fears, I had this earlier type of breast cancer; which was more common as she told me and not life-threatening.
Incorrect Treatment of DCIS made me a Cancer-victim again
The results were quite alarming and I needed to confirm all that by a biopsy as was suggested to me by my husband at home. We booked for a biopsy and two days later it was confirmed that I had DCIS. For the next two weeks we worked with the medical experts so ensure that we adhered to every instruction given so that a surgery could be done. A month later a successfully underwent lumpectomy.
Though the breast-conserving surgery was successful, we must have made a mistake somewhere. Something went wrong and was realized a year later when I went for my usual routine breast scan only to discover that I had breast cancer. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. Actually, it all seemed like a dream. By this time we had relocated to a new town and all the therapists that I was seeing were unfamiliar to me.
I wanted to get to the bottom of all this
Moreover, I was so furious. This was because I already had undergone a correction procedure. But here I was being told that my cancer was back. How was I supposed to respond to all this? The answer was to unravel the mystery.
Furthermore, I went back and came with all my mammogram reports as well as the surgical reports; and that is when it was pointed outs; after about a week of waiting, that the surgical procedure that I underwent was supposed to have been accompanied by a radiation therapy to reduce the chances of the recurrence of cancer. Despite that, they also added that the radiation therapy didn’t completely rule out the chances of the recurrence. But lowered the risk significantly.
Mastectomy was the Best Solution to Rule out Cancer Forever
With all this overwhelming information and the thoughts of how I lost my mom to breast cancer, I was sure of one thing, that the best way to fight this menace was to undergo a mastectomy. I never wanted to take my chances with this monster.
However, I successfully underwent a mastectomy in early 2011. I had a fake breast implanted and sometimes it makes me shy to think about it. But I feel better thinking how I was able to overcome the naughty monster. I have been doing routine follow ups since then and no alarming mammogram reports have been noted since. I’m a testimony to all women that you can successfully fight this menace and live normally once more.
Battling Breast Cancer
The thought of going for a mammogram was quiet frightening to me; and I never considered it a priority to go for one. As a matter of facts, a simple visit to for routine dental check-up was much of a hassle to me. Moreover, I honed this phobia about anything concerning hospitals or medicine. Not that I believe much in alternative medicine. But I had this innate fear of anything medical for as long as I can remember. I feared seeing nurses administering IVs or the thought of one taking medicine.
But this fear was not to last forever; actually it turned out to be the source of my strength. It’s true that the leakages that our personality faces in life can take a turn and be the source of inspiration and an assurance of a start of a new life. Alternatively, as the early days of my story battling breast cancer may suggest, the same fear can be an accomplice; which helps you to dig your grave more early than the death could have occurred.
A Lump on my Breast was the Tell-sign of a Cancer Possibility
It was way back on the onset of spring, 2004 when the first sign manifested itself. Nevertheless, I was nearing my 39th birthday by then. I had been divorced for 5 years. But I had recently been dating a neighbor and he was my boyfriend. It was he, whom discovered a lump on my left breast. At first, I thought it was just a bad joke. The unfortunate scenario clicked on me when he insisted that I needed a check-up. He was very particular about the scanning in and it was time for me to ‘man up’ and to embrace this; which I had for long sidelined. It was time for me to go for a check-up.
The whole idea of having cancer was very tormenting and was killing me inside even as I scheduled an appointment to go for a check. All I could pray of was that the results would be negative. I couldn’t imagine living, leave alone battling cancer. I inquired from my entire family member if any cases of cancer had been earlier reported in our family lineage and they all responded in the negative. In one way or the other, the scanning was what would determine all that.
Three days after the lump had been detected
Furthermore, I was there at my local health care for the scan. With me were my boyfriend and my daughter who took me there. When my turn came to see be scanned, I went in with my boyfriend. Inside I met a lovely radiation therapist and a nurse who was too friendly.
They quickly took us through all normal routine and formalities about the whole process. I remember that all that time my mind was completely lost and most of what was being said escaped me. Then came time for the tests, and my fears crept in.
Undergoing a Mammogram, Helped me Know My Status and Give Me Courage to Fight Cancer
It was unfortunate that I had no previous mammogram films for comparisons because this would have made it easy for them as the radiologist explained. But still she ensured me that all would be well. The tests were not as easy as a friend or too had encouraged me that they would be.
Foremost my breast were dense and, dear Christ, I had applied some skin lotion; which wasn’t advisable. As the radiation therapist tried to scan the breast, she advised that I wipe out the lotion with some wet towel. That didn’t sound okay with me. Were it not for my boyfriend, I would have preferred to book an appointment another day. But he insisted that I comply with the instructions from the medical team. With the help of the nurse, this was done.
My next horror was when time for re-positioning the breasts came. I hated the pain I felt as the nurse helped in flattening my breasts so as to get a clearer view of my breasts. I just tried to be patient all thorough and voila, that passed.
One week later
I then got a call from the health care mammogram center. My worst fears were confirmed. However, I had Stage I breast cancer. My world was torn apart for the next two months as I was constantly in the hospitals meeting different specialist until finally my surgery; which was done three months later. During this time, I would have lost myself were it not for my boyfriend, my daughter, estranged husband and my friends.
Nonetheless, I may have lost my left breast to cancer. But today I still soldier on. I’m more strong than ever and I usually advice all ladies to go for scan as early in their lives as possible; so that they may be a better position to know their predicament and be ready to face it.
Click here to check out the next page about Addiction to Things and What-not (English).