Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beware the ides of March

That would be tomorrow,the ides, most famously recalled in the soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar,  but perhaps tomorrow will arrive sans snow and full of sun.  For anyone unfamiliar, Google the ides and there is  a plethora of information and websites.  Today there was a pale cast to the sky amplified with an early AM phone call of not so welcome tidings, pre Ides.  Yesterday I had my annual mammography and this morning the radiologist office called to require my returned presence--my left boob is in question, recalled, if you will.  This has never happened before to me, so while I am keeping a positive front, I am concerned.  I have learned that 1 in 10 women have a recall on their routine mammography screening. 

Mayo clinic mammo photo  I have never seen this technician

The clinician  yesterday seemed not as about business as  what I've had in the past, she neither squeezed, compressed nor twisted me in standing and sideways positions as I have been  done to before.  She took only one frontal and one side shot per boob.  I am accustomed to more agony and photos and so perhaps I must return for my fair share.  
When the unwelcome call came that I would have to go to La Crosse where they have greater equipment, I  joked, "what my boob has outgrown Onalaska?  I have had no change in cup or bra size"  Both clinics are just across the river but I have preferred Onalaska, the newest.  While the clinician laughed, she proceeded to offer other times for my left boob recall.    I am concerned and thinking of what ifs simultaneous to making a joke and shrugging it off.  After all, why worry now, do not borrow trouble which can come time enough.  Still, my left boob, favored side on which I sleep, bigger of the pair, is in question; I have had no symptoms nor concerns.  I am blessed to have Mayo clinic and a doctor who is a professional worry wart and while it could be nothing I think about the women whom I buried after they lost their battles with breast cancer and I think about survivors and pink today and I say, "time will tell, wait and see...."    
A large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine proved that isn’t the case.  All women have a 5% to 15% chance of being recalled. It doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. In fact, the odds are against it.   Radiologists are looking for two main signs of cancer: mass (tumors) and calcification. When a woman gets regular annual mammograms the radiologist compares the current year’s views with last year’s. If anything looks different or develops, returns for additional views or studies are taken to tease out what is being seen. Women develop benign tumors which may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body and calcifications all the time. These are quite common and include cysts, fibroadenomas, and solid masses. Calcifications occur most often simply as a result of the natural aging process from the degeneration of tissue"

I think of that old comical Mammogram poem that has made the email rounds for ages and copied in old xerox machines  prior to that.  It is online for the looking but I recall some lines long ago memorized, .... For years and years they told me, "Be careful of your breasts."   Don't ever squeeze or bruise them, and give them monthly tests.  So, I heeded all their warnings.....and protected them by law.... Guarded them very carefully, and always wore a bra.....   and on it goes.....I do not want to repeat it in entirety because I find it tedious to have reiterations, just as some late comers to email repeat and recirculate old articles, jokes, I refrain. 

Uncle Carl  Third or Fourth grade
Another thing, the month of March now feels
Aunt Jinx, Virginia
Second grade photo 
strange because I have two less  birthday cards to send; two cards for which I would search to find just the right sentiment.  

 March had birthdays of my late Aunt Jinx and Uncle Carl.  She was born March 1, 1921 and would have been 92 this year.  She was mom's older sister.  Uncle Carl, Mom's older brother was born March 21, 1918 and would have been 95 this year.   She died in 2009 and he in 2011.  The last of my elderlies, the last of the old family.  Now I am the old family. 

Love this photo of my late  aunt and uncle taken on one of my visits, June 2008, sitting on his porch, their lives went downhill after this visit.  Notice both reflecting in the same pose, they laughed later, he saying, "oh she always copied me."  Isn't it always something.....hold the good thoughts.


  1. Hope the mammonrecallmis just precautionary, Pat. I too endured that annual test a couple of weeks ago and all is OK for another year. Just read a news report that many false readings have been reported for some women, hopefully you are in this group. There should be a better way to do the tests as all that twisting and pressing makes me glad it's over and I also get grumpy without meaning to be so.
    I understand about a month with less birthdays to celebrate.

  2. BB, I heard that there are more recalls now with digital equipment, etc. I too dislike this annual visit and do not understand why with all the advances, laser, etc it cannot be a less miserable experience. Still I go reluctantly, because I have buried 3 friends who lost their battles with breast cancer. And have a surviving school pal.

  3. Sending tons of positive energy your way!

    Helen, formerly of MN

  4. From TOM by email: Wishing you the best, Pat. Many years ago, probably prior to mammograms, a lump was found in my mom's breast. Fortunately, it was not cancer, a benign tumor, but was quite long and carrot shaped. The surgeon dug it out and she never had a problem of that type again.

    Carol has been a regular blood donor and has given 6 gallons, or more, over the years. She recently went to donate again and a few days later she received a letter telling her she can no longer donate blood. They said their test showed a possibility of infection with Hepatitis C. They said they ran another, different test which did not show the hepatitis reaction and suggested she pass the info along to her primary care Dr. She feels that, if she really is positive she must have picked it up through one of the several places she was examined and/or treated following the fall. We are hoping, and expect that her Dr will order tests to determine for sure whether or not she is infected. And we'll deal with it from there.

  5. I hope the results turn out normal. Life seems to be dishing out challenges to a lot of people I know lately.

    1. I know, Patrick, even if we are not supposed to be given more than we can endure, some times it is darn close to the edge for folks.

  6. From Sandy email: First, I want to reassure you that things are different this time in how they are using and forwarding to Radiologist for reading. I have mine every late Oct or early Nov. in celebration (?) of my birthday and easier to remember as I have had one annual since I was much, much younger. I went this last Nov., was a young attendant, also had a trainee in tow( had to authorize it was okay for the sidekick to be there). I notice first there was less manipulation, pulling, tugging and reshaping the position of the breast. I had noticed the year before the new equipment had rounded those God awful sharp metal corners that fit (or not) under the arm. Next this time I was listening to her tell trainee that the new technology was better for the Radiologists. But then it was as you said one frontal pic and one side only (She did manage to smash and push the flesh where she wanted it. ) I questioned is that all and she said the pics are better and you get less radiation. ( Be careful who you interact with in life: clerk, church, store, etc... she might be your next Machine Operator).

    I developed fibroid cysts in both breast when Scott was about two years old. They were very sore, some had to be aspirated some were calcifications and empty. That went on for 5 or 6 years and they stopped. Then when I was near 40 I started having mammogram due to my Moms cancers. So they have over twenty years at the Clinic for study.

    When is your next photo opt? I loved you little refrain " growing up to protect our boobs". Remind me to tell you the hell I made of my poor little brother Doug once my mom had explained why at 11 years I was wearing "melon growths" on my chest and why my shoulders hurt and he must not pick on my. Boy, that gave me an upper hand in any disagree and I admit to using to full advantage including tears for emoting! Loved the pictures of Carl and Jinx!! They warm the heart. It's easy to see they loved you dearly, but they sure set you up with some great values, that you have been gracious about sharing so also others can learn. Paying forward. I'm going to charge my phone and give you a call. You continue absolutely every thing you had in mind even if it's just dinner at the Legion,etc.

    Hugs, Prayers and a little Balarney, too. (I would say a rosary for you too, but I don't know how and I don't the beads)