The next step in my particular odyssey was to have an ultrasound. I asked that I not have to see the nasty doctor ever again, and the girls in the office at the mammography center gladly obliged and scheduled me to come in when the one other doctor that worked on site was there. That appointment was for September 28th.
I came in and the technicians were very nice as was the alternative doctor. They were doing ultrasounds on both breasts, because there was something that was unclear in the left one, as well as something definite going on in the right one. No one at this point was sure what the calcifications were in the right breast or what the node in the left breast was.
Just a note here. If you get the okay for assistance through grant money for help with your diagnostic bills, let the office at the mammography center know about this. They will list the grant organization as secondary insurance so that they can submit it after they have attempted to submit it to your primary health insurance. Always check before you go in for additional imaging from a mammogram. Do not ever presume that your health insurance will pay for additional imaging or a biopsy. Some will, many won't. Check first, then talk to the people that work at your mammography center. Get all your information. Have it done, but figure out the financials first. It only takes a day or two to figure out how you will pay for the imaging. Then you can get on with the diagnostic process. Remember, if you are worried about money it will do you no good. Get the peace of mind of resolving the money. A couple of days is worth it.
So, I let the girls in the office know what agency the breast cancer navigator had told me to have them bill as secondary insurance and then I went to have my ultrasounds. Ultrasounds are painless, even better than the mammogram. Mammograms are really not painful. I'd heard that for years, but when it was time for me to start having them, I didn't know what all the fuss was about. Ultrasounds are just like the ones you have when you are pregnant, just on you boobs. The goo is warm, and the whole things actually tickles. After it's done, you are just a gooey, tickly mess. Nothing that little clean up won't cure.
My results were given to me immediately from these ultrasounds. The node on the left breast was nothing. Yippie! Half of my concerns were already gone. The right breast, not so lucky. They indeed found what looked like snow in the breast. There were little calcifications all over the breast. There were two groupings that were of particular concern. I would have to come back for multiple biopsies.
Let me pause here to explain a calcification. Being a woman, you would think that I completely understood how a breast works. I had two of them. But, as most women will tell you, we know a lot more about them as a toy for our husbands or a milk distributor for our children than we know about the actual goings on inside of them.
A calcification is a mass that develops inside the milk ducts of the breast. There are over a thousand ducts in a breast. This is a lot of potential for masses to develop. There is nothing that a woman does that causes this to happen. Heredity is probably the leading factor as in most cancers. There are theories that diet or if you didn't breast feed your children causes this, but there is no evidence of such craziness. Mine was caused by an overabundance of Estrogen. This is not something that I would have known or been able to control however. Cancer just happens.
When dealing with calcifications there are different levels as in any other issue. Not all calcifications are cancerous. Some are just mass. That's why they do biopsies. That's why I had to come back. That's why I hate the way insurances have worked especially since Obamacare. A lot of them won't pay. I couldn't pay a couple of thousand dollars for multiple biopsies. I couldn't pay a thousand dollars for an ultrasound, or more for two. Without the help of grant money and breast cancer navigators that help you find a way to pay, I don't know what I would have done. Fortunately, those people are there, and it was done.
I made an appointment for the following week on October 3rd, to have the multiple biopsies and went on my way for the day. Now I had to wait a week or so to find out what was going on inside my breast. Now I had yet another week for my mind to wonder where my life was about to go. I still had to take care of my life, my family, work, pets, and house. Because of everything that was potentially happening to me, my mind couldn't focus on much else. Cancer is the scariest word I ever heard. I was only 51 at that time. I was way too young to die. I spent the next week trying to function while being about as distracted as I had ever been. All I could do was wait.
I hope that breast cancer patients will find this helpful. I wish that I had been more prepared for what I would go through. I hope that people will continue to follow this as I continue my story. I hope that it helps at least one person with their journey.