I found out some new things by having this happen. I learned that 80 percent of women get called back after a mammogram. This was my first time getting called back. I didn’t know that 80 percent of women get called back until after, when I told my friend who recently went through a call back. My friend was the one who heard about the 80 percent at her clinic when she got an “everything’s fine” after her call back. I wish I would have known about that statistic before they called me back. When they call you, they don’t say, “Hello, we scare 80 percent of the women who get mammograms every year, so don’t worry.” Instead the very-concerned sounding voice on the other end said, “We need you to come back right away. We need to do an ultrasound.” Oh, my hands got numb and my boob that needed the ultrasound hurt. Sweat started to pucker off the back of my neck.
“Okay,” I used my most confident voice. I acted like I could handle it. I made the appointment for the next morning and wondered how I would sleep that night. As I hung up the phone, my mind raced. What if it’s bad news? Would I be able to handle it? How did this happen? Haven’t I been taking good care of myself? I reminded myself that people can’t help getting sick, even the ones who take care of themselves.
I was at work at the time of my call back, and I texted my husband to call me when he got a chance. It took a while to hear back from him, and as I tried to calm my fears, I did a little research on the Internet. I learned that 80 percent of lumps are not cancerous. That almost made me feel a little better about my call back. I also read that 80 percent of women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. As far as I know, no one in my family ever had breast cancer, so learning that family history doesn’t matter really didn’t make me feel better.
As I went through the day, I mentally tried to be nice to the people around me. I noticed that sometimes my voice was at a higher pitch than normal, and it was annoying to me and made others take notice. I could tell by the funny tilt of the head of the person I was talking to that they noticed my voice had gone squeaky. I remembered how just earlier that morning I thought about people who have bad things happen to them. I wondered if they should automatically have the right to be mean to other people? I decided they do not.
My husband called me, and I knew that he would stay by me no matter what. He told me it would all be okay, and I knew I could count on him. When I finally got home from work, I acted as cheerful as I could, and I tried not to think about the call back even though that was impossible. I didn’t want to tell my kids because I didn’t want them to worry. I went into the garden and noticed that the flower that I had been waiting to blossom finally did. Since I am one who looks for some sort of sign, I took that blossom as being a good sign that all would be fine. I surprised myself that night by giving up and realizing that I had no control over the situation. I would just have to go in, have the ultrasound and see what would have to happen after that, if anything. Letting go helped me have a pretty restful sleep that night, and I was sort of ready to meet the day the next morning.
My husband went with me, and we were the first to arrive. Many more women came shuffling in. Practically every person’s name that got called before me was named Mary. Every time a Mary was called, I jumped out of my chair a bit. Finally, they called me. The woman who brought me to the changing room asked me how I was, and I wanted to tell her that I was scared. Instead I told her I was okay, and asked, “How are you?” I put on the lovely green robe with the huge snaps in front. I locked my precious belongings in the locker, and picked up a magazine with an article about a woman who had just gone through surviving breast cancer. Gee whiz, I thought and hoped that wasn’t a bad sign. A technician arrived to take me away from the daunting magazine and lead me to a dark room.
“Why did I need to come in?” I asked her.
“There’s been a change,” she said.
After I laid down, she glopped some warm gel on the spot, and I heard myself silently pray “Hail Mary, full of grace,” and then she took the ultrasound. It lasted about five minutes.
“I am going to show these to the radiologist, and then we will let you know if you need to come back or not.”
When she left the room, I got up, cleaned the gel off of me, and washed my hands.
The door opened, and another young woman, the radiologist, walked in with the technician.
“I’d like to see this live,” said the radiologist. “There’s asymmetrical blah, blah,” she started to sound muffled, like how the adults sound on the Peanuts Gang cartoon shows. I had no idea what she was talking about.
The gel went to the same spot, and I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw the very serious and concerned face of the technician. She didn’t know it, but her look scared me. Then, thankfully, the radiologist told me that they couldn’t find anything, and sometimes tissue gets folded over on the mammogram.
“We’ll keep an eye on it. You just need to come back in a year for another mammogram.”
“How scary,” I said with great relief.
Later that afternoon, I told Katie that I had to go in for an ultrasound.
“Was it okay? Are you okay?” she asked in a concerned voice.
“Yes, everything’s fine.”
“Mom, you should always start off by saying everything’s fine,” she said in a shrill voice.
Ok, I will. Every time everything is fine, I will.