When You Get A "Call Back" On Your Mammogram...

The first time I got a "Call Back" on my mammogram, fear immediately gripped me and I felt like throwing up.  My heart began to race and I could not stop shaking or crying.  My husband came to my rescue as the strong supportive mate that he is.  When they told me I would have to wait days to have additional tests run, he insisted they do them right away...and he also got the results the same day.  I KNOW...unheard of, huh?  Well, he just has this way about him; he never takes "No" for an answer.  That was two years ago.  I agonizingly went back to the breast center and had more films taken and an ultrasound...waited all day for the results...and was finally relieved to find that everything was OK.  Because of that abnormal mammogram, I had to undergo another one 6 months later and then again another 6 months later.  Last year I did not have a "Call Back", although, I had great anxiety when I had to return for my routine mammogram;  I suppose that will always happen.

Last week I headed back down for my annual mammogram.  After completing the test, the technician told me that I should receive a letter in the mail from my doctor in about two days.  I really didn't think anything about it until I realized that it had been a little longer than that.  I started to call the office, but since my doctor had just retired, I thought perhaps his partner, taking over for him, was just taking a little extra time; truly I never thought this could happen again.

I got up Wednesday morning and had my errands written down and headed out early to get started on them.  My first stop was at the hair salon, where I was getting with my hair dresser to decide what hair style I would wear to Caitlin's wedding.  I left there and stopped by the pharmacy and then was on my way to my next stop when my phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number, but that isn't unusual since I don't have everybody's name programmed in my phone.  I said, "Hello" and that's when my whole day stopped...

It was the doctor's office.  They told me that the report had come back on my mammogram and they needed to take some more films.  I was in shock!  I asked what the report said and, of course, didn't understand what she was telling me.  They could schedule me a WEEK from today.  A WEEK?!  The nurse told me she realized that was a Friday and I would most likely not get the results until the following Monday; "I know that will make for a long weekend", she said.  Suddenly I became more than shocked and more than sad...I became angry as I told her that was the day before my daughter was to graduate from college in Texas.  YES!...My weekend with my family for this special event WOULD be ruined.  I know that I was "Shooting the Messenger" so to speak, but I was distraught.  If you have ever been there, you know what I am talking about.  If you haven't, I pray that you never have to experience that feeling.

I called Robby and promptly fell apart; this was a repeat of two years ago.  David, my son who graduates from medical school in less than a month was in town also.  They put their heads together, Robby trying to get me an earlier test date and David trying to talk to me clinically about what the problem most likely was (he had done a clinical rotation in radiology).  No matter what anyone said, I was still very upset.  David eventually called the radiologist he had worked with and asked him if he could not only review all of my previous mammograms and ultrasound film but also do my additional tests the following day.  He agreed and we got busy having the breast center copy all of my films to a disk to take him.  Oh...did I mention that this doctor is in Mississippi?  Yep!  We would be picking the disk up at 8 a.m. and then heading over to have my tests done 4 hours from my home.

I didn't know what the outcome would be.  I prayed fervently that everything would be fine like before.  Whatever happened, there would be two things that were for certain:  1.  I would leave the following day with the results and 2.  I would be using a breast specialty center that a friend of mine uses and recommended in Dallas for all of my future breast screenings.  These centers do ALL necessary testing in one day AND give you your results; there is no waiting for other appointments or the reading of results.  And part of the fear of getting a "Call Back" is the waiting.  Waiting causes your mind to think of every worse case scenario there is. 

I went to bed early the night before and did not sleep well.  Robby, David and I got up early and headed to Mississippi.  Four hours is a long time to ride and think; the ride was quiet on my end.  I put my earphones in my ears and listened to my i-pod most of the way there.  As I turned inward, I realized that my guys were handling my silence OK, but so wanted me to talk to them; I just couldn't. I cannot explain the thoughts that go through one's mind when something like this happens.

We reached the hospital around 12:30.  David took Robby and me to the cafeteria while he met with the radiologist and my films were reviewed.  Robby got something to eat but I didn't feel like I could get a bite down; I finally agreed to eat part of a cookie.  It wasn't long before David came back to get us and we were on our way to the radiologist's office.  He took one look at me and said, "First, I need you to calm down."  He took me into the room where my films were still up and began to show me two different views.  He and another radiologist had looked at the films and both agreed that the area in question was simply a lymph node that was clearly visible from one of the other views.  I had brought him several years of my films and they said that had always been on there; in their opinion, I did not need additional films or an ultrasound done.  I was relieved; worn out mentally, physically and emotionally, but relieved.

Why do I bother to even tell you this story?  Well, for a couple of reasons:  First, I do believe in having mammogram testing done.  Yes, it is scary and I, personally, have anxiety every time I walk into the clinic.  Second, I want people to be aware that there are call backs done every day that turn out to be OK.  I don't understand why some are done; perhaps some radiologists are erring on the side of caution or maybe they are not having other radiologist double check questionable areas before they make a final judgment.  And third, I want women to know that YOU are in charge of your health care; if you do not like what is going on where you presently are, then change.  Don't stop getting tests done, just change where you are getting the service provided.  There are many options out there, one just has to look for them and choose the one best suited for them.  I am VERY thankful that my situation turned out positive once again.  Do I already have anxiety about next year?  I'm not sure.  But I believe that my choice to seek out a breast center, specializing in breast care will make a huge difference.

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