Ronna's Story: Diagnosis


Magnified Mammogram:

I started receiving annual mammograms at age 34 because my mother had breast cancer and I needed to start before I turned 40. I had been called back a few years ago for an ultrasound and it turned out to be nothing. This time I received a letter in the mail! I got back in within a week of receiving the letter and wasn’t too worried because I’ve been called before. However, this time it was for a magnified mammogram. It’s still a mammogram they just use “magnified” glass on the machine. I then saw the doctor and they showed me the five tiny specks of “white” on the HUGE monitor. This was what they were concerned about; they said it was like five grains of sand. They showed me the previous years mammogram and it was not there. I was asked to come back for a Sterotactic Biopsy but I was having knees surgery in a few days so I ended up having to wait almost two weeks before I could have the procedure done. I have to tell you, when I saw the “white grains of sand,” I knew it was cancer, I just had to wait for the biopsy to confirm it. It was just a “knowing,” nothing more, nothing less.

Sterotactic Biopsy:

Because they could not feel the lump, they had to do this type of biopsy on me. I’m not sure if they could have done any other type of biopsy, but it wasn’t offered. You lay on a table that has a bit of a dip in the center with two holes in it for either your left or right breast to fall through. If you can imagine a huge countertop with a sink in it, you’ll get the idea. But the sink part is only about two to three inches deep. You will need to lie on your belly, and it wasn’t comfortable, as I have lower back problems. I also had just had knee surgery the week before so you can picture the angle I was in, flat on my belly with one leg bent to the side with a pillow under it and my head turned to the wall, VERY uncomfortable. The cancer was in my left breast, so that’s the one that fit down through the hole in the dip “sink” area of the table. They used a mammogram machine to squeeze the breast and take a lot of mammograms to pinpoint the abnormality. I was not allowed to move a finger because if I did that could have moved the targeted area. My tumor was only 5mm so they didn’t have much room for mistakes. I had to hold my breath every time they took a mammogram and when they felt they had the right area they numbed the skin, used a scalpel to make a quarter inch incision and used another machine to shoot a larger needle into the breast. I’m not trying to scare you, just letting you know what “I” experienced. Now I know what it’s like to be a fish that has been “speared!” The needle made a “thump” noise and I did feel it but it wasn’t horrid. They numbed the area more through the larger needle and went deeper to the tumor. They were stopping and taking mammograms several times during this process to make sure they were heading in the right direction. After determining they were in the right area, they turned the machine on and it sucked out a sample of the cells in the questionable area through the needle. They immediately checked under the microscope to make sure they had gotten enough cells for the pathology test before they removed the needle. They then removed the needle and just put a steri-strip over the incision to hold it closed. I was fortunate enough to get the results the next day via a phone call; I still remember the time, 12:30. I personally took off that day and the next but I’ve heard that most people go back to work the next day. I was very bruised for about two weeks but they will give you a cold gel pack that you will need to keep over the area off and on for about half hour increments. I used this for about a week, even at work. The only pain medicine I took was an Aleve.

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