I am going to start this blog with the preface that ever women is unique and we each have the right to decide what is RIGHT for us. Never would I assume that I know what is best for anyone but myself. My situation is unique to me. What you choose is absolutely your choice and if you feel it is right for you, then I applaud you for pursuing what is right for you.
A few months ago, I discovered a large lump under my breast. It was not quite in my breast tissue, but it wasn't exactly not my breast tissue. That evening, Wes was by my side to comfort me and tell me that no matter what he would be there to help in any way that I need him. He reassured and comforted me.
The next morning I called my doctor and requested diagnostic imaging, specifically - an ultrasound. The doctor sent the request to the Boise Breast Center at St. Lukes Downtown Boise. I requested an ultrasound specifically because ultrasound imaging of the breast uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It is primarily used to help diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities found during a physical exam. Ultrasound is safe, noninvasive and most importantly for me....... does not use radiation. I was classified as symptomatic. Everything I've ever read indicated that if a women was symptomatic (lump found) that an ultrasound was the first diagnostic imaging recommended.
The Breast Center called me. While I was scheduling my appointment I informed the lady on the other end that I wanted an ultrasound imaging of an area I was concerned about and could show the doctor or ultrasound tech exactly where is was. The women on the other line informed me that it was St. Lukes policy that ALL women over age 35 WILL get a mammogram and that if I refused the mammogram first, I would be denied my appointment.
RED FLAG #1: I made the appointment feeling violated. How dare anyone tell me that I have to do something I don't feel comfortable with.
Over the next couple of days as I waited for my appointment date to arrive, I re-evaluated my lifestyle and food choices and wondered if there was something that I had done or not done that could have made a difference in what is happening now. I refrained from telling anyone in my family about what I found until I knew the outcome of the diagnostic imaging.
I arrived at my appointment as scheduled. Wes drove me and held my hand all the way to Boise. At check in, the lady at the front desk told me the mammogram was first, I told her that will not do the mammogram but I will do the ultrasound. There was some discussion and I was told to wait in the waiting area.
The doctor agreed to allow the ultrasound and I was called back. Wes and I both got up and started walking towards the nurse at the door. The nurse told Wes he is not allowed in the back........... My emotional support was NOT ALLOWED in the exam room with me.
RED FLAG #2: No emotional support, no backup, no one to hold my hand.
I was escorted into another waiting area where I am told to change into a gown, open in the front. I change into the gown and lock up my personal items and then sit and wait. Another nurse comes in and start berating me about not wanting a mammogram........ Are they running around telling everyone that there is a woman in their facility refusing a mammogram?????
I am escorted into the ultrasound room and made to feel guilty about how they had to re-arranging their schedule so I can get the ultrasound done first and that is not the policy of their organization. Seriously....... If I was not such a strong person, I would have been bullied into submitting to their demands.
The ultrasound tech does her thing and then the doctor comes in and they go over how I have multiple dense tissue areas and start pointing them out. I explain that those are normal for me and that they tend to come and go as I ovulate...... Currently I am going through menopause and they are coming and going at different times and its no longer on a consistent basis. I ask the doctor if that could be why I had the large lump that is much smaller now..... hormone changes causing changes in my body. She said "yeah, but I would really like to get the mammogram done to rule out calcification."
(For those that don't know...... calcification are spots in the breast tissue that calcium builds up and becomes hard. Most false positive breast exams are due to this.)
"Ruling out calcification does nothing at this point since the lump shrunk drastically over the course of several days, wouldn't you say?" The doctor shrugged and said "yeah" in a very defeated tone.
"And even if there was calcification, that is not anything to worry about, right?"
She again says "yeah" and looks at the ultrasound tech and shrugs.
We shake hands and conclude the appointment. I go out and grab Wes and we leave.
2 Weeks later, I got a letter in the mail saying I need to get my mammogram done and that the appointment ended with inconclusive diagnosis.
2 weeks later I got another letter saying the same thing.
2 weeks later, I got a certified letter that I had to go down to the post office and sign for saying the same thing.
2 weeks later my primary care doctor's office gives me a call saying St. Lukes contacted them that I did not complete my examination and that I needed to get a mammogram.
RED FLAG #3: SERIOUSLY???????? Why are they so focused on radiating my breasts??????
Did you know that cancer is an accumulation of mutations in the cell. After being radiated, the cells have mutations. After enough doses of radiation, the mutated cells can become immortal. Immortal cells create tumors and the chances of it invading neighboring tissues (becoming cancerous) are much higher.
A mammogram was not and is not the right choice for me. I was astounded by the excessive amount of demanding, the overly pushiness and the outright bullying that was done with such force to me repetitively......... I don't know many people who are as strong willed as me and I am not sure how many other women could have gone through all of that unscathed.
I feel it all boils down to money....... If they radiate my breasts enough, I am almost guaranteed to end up with cancer and then they can get $millions for the resulting cancer treatment....... and then all the while claiming that the mammogram caught it.......... without mentioning the mammogram caused it. This is of course strictly my opinion and how I feel.