First of all, I want to thank everyone who read yesterday's blog and offered their support, good wishes, hugs and prayers. I really appreciate them. You're the best!
I had good news from the oncologist today. The needle biopsy showed no cancer. The suspicious area was scar tissue from a previous injury. Apparently, this scar tissue shows up on a mammogram. The official name of this scar tissue is fat necrosis. It can be caused by an injury, surgery, radiation, and a few other situations as well.
While I was really stressed over needing the needle biopsy, I'm eternally grateful that the medical professionals I come into contact with are so vigilant. They don't take anything for granted, and are very proactive in how they care for their patients. Everyone - from the mammography/ultrasound technician, to the radiologist, to the nurses and doctors, even the receptionists at the hospital, care about the patients.
In case you might be wondering what a needle biopsy is like, it wasn't as bad as I expected. The procedure was explained to me before anything was done, and both the radiologist (doctor) and the ultrasound technician told me every step that was going to happen.
The procedure for the needle biopsy is very simple. The area to be biopsied was cleaned with betadine and a drape was put over the breast. Then the radiologist, while looking at the ultrasound image, gave me a shot of lidocaine to numb the area. Once I was numb, she inserted a needle, guided by the ultrasound, and took 4 tiny tissue samples from different parts of the suspicious area. I watched the whole procedure on the ultrasound viewing screen. I didn't feel a thing, I just heard a click when the tissue was taken. Afterwards, the betadine was cleaned off, and pressure was put on the breast to prevent bleeding and bruising, then steri-strips were used to cover the incision. When I was ready to get up, the technician wrapped my chest with an Ace bandage and told me to take it easy for several days. I was allowed to take Tylenol for pain if I needed it. The next day I took off the Ace bandage, and then took off the steri-strips on Sunday. I had an incision that was less than 1/16 of an inch - it looked like a tiny paper cut.
I took the Tylenol the first day - more because I had a serious stress headache than from any pain from the procedure. I did take it easy until Monday, then it was back to normal - except I haven't started exercising yet. I'll do that tomorrow.
I decided to describe the needle biopsy procedure in case anyone who reads this might be facing one and is worried or afraid of the procedure. In my case, there were only 2 things I that bothered me - the lidocaine injection burned for about 5 seconds, and the waiting until today to get the results. Having the ace bandage around my chest for the first day felt like a sports bra, it wasn't uncomfortable at all.
15 years ago, I found the lump in my breast - I was 45 years old, and there was no histry of breast cancer in my family. I had a mammogram, but the results were "inconclusive." When I saw my primary care doctor (I was in an HMO at the time), he said I could either have a biopsy, or wait 6 months and have another mammogram. He didn't really give me any professional advice. I was so scared that I told him I wanted to have the lump removed - I didn't care if it was benign or malignant - I wanted it out. A couple of weeks later I had the lumpectomy, and lymph node removal. The cancer was already in the lymph nodes, so I needed to have chemotherapy in addition to radiation. If I had waited that 6 months to get another mammogram, I might not be here today writing about it.
Ladies - please do your monthly breast self-exams, and if you find anything questionable, don't be afraid to see your doctor. Get it taken care of sooner rather than later. I would rather have a dozen negative tests than ignore something that doesn't feel right, or put off a test or procedure until it's too late. Early treatment is much more successful, and less traumatic to the body.