"Don't Worry": When the Real Risk is Slim But Your Body Rejects the Logic

"Approximately 1 in 10 women will be called back for further examination after a screening mammogram.
Don’t worry—the fact that you require additional imaging does not mean you have cancer. Most abnormalities found during a mammogram are not breast cancer. In fact, 80% of women recalled for a diagnostic mammogram have benign (non-cancerous) conditions. These conditions range from cysts (collections of fluid in the breast) to benign tumors know as fibroadenomas." --Diagnostic Mammogram: What You Should Know

 Don't worry--and you know the song is playing in my head, but that may also be because my anti-anxiety meds kicked in and I am now really ready to fall asleep, both to make the hours till I go in for my diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound this afternoon go by and because my meds have done their job: mellowed me enough so that I'm not stuck in the bathroom for the rest of the day. I was not, trust me, built for the battlefield. My body takes the fight or flight response and opts for the third choice: the Woody Allen choice...

It is so much more likely that the spot seen on my mammogram in April was just a cyst--I have fibrocystic breasts, and so it's nothing, and yet...the nagging worry is there.

It's not just the whole breast thing, either--in a month I go in for an EGD and colonscopy--where, let's be honest, my chances are much higher given my history. And I'm the kind of gal who likes to dread in advance, thank you very much, although I'm old hat at the colonoscopy part and as long as they knock my ass out before they put that stupid green guard in my mouth (I'm highly claustrophobic and have this whole not-liking feeling trapped thing going on) for the EGD, it will be fine and I'll reward myself with a milkshake after...

Getting older beats the alternative, certainly, and screenings are an important part of making sure we get older, but the reality is that the screening itself can cause tremendous anxiety, not just around the test time, but every time you think about it. I think women, who have to get routine pap smears starting at 18 are more accustomed to this since we spend our adult lives having our lady bits subjected to screenings, screenings that are invasive and uncomfortable.

So to lessen the anxiety, we will go to various lengths. Some of us avoid the screenings alltogether. Others with high risks for various cancers may go heavy proactive and have the body part removed. Others go through the screenings faithfully, sucking up the anxiety as the price of doing business, and others strategically calculate how long they can go between screenings and still be "safe."

Don't worry--it's the right approach, but a hard one to take when your brain overrides your logic centers and chooses to activate your emergency centers. It makes for a bumpy ride, certainly, so I think the don't worry card should come with a supply of chocolate, hard liquor and Imodium.

UPDATE: After the diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound (and redo of the ultrasound), the radiologist determined that I need to have a needle biopsy performed, so I'm waiting for my doctor to get the report, order it, and to get scheduled for the next stage in this odyssey.

1 comment:

melbo said...

Gosh - I wish you well. I hope all is clear after the biopsy.

Have just been through some anxiety with this myself and still feel rather drained by it. It seemed to activate all the fears lying dormant in my psyche.

Keep us posted. xxx