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Grace, Favor and Mammograms

I have BMNB's stomach to thank.

A few weeks ago, BMNB ate something that didn't sit well with him for a few days. Finally, I told him he needed to go to the doctor to make sure there wasn't something seriously wrong. I went with him because BMNB doesn't always remember to ask all the hard questions of our doctor. Like a dog at the vet, he just wants to get in and get out with as little pain as possible.

So since we were at Kaiser Hospital, I remembered that 1) I had not had my annual birthday mammograms; and 2) Kaiser does walk-in mammograms. Once our family doctor determined that BMNB probably had a stomach virus of some sort, I decided that since I was in the building, why not kill two birds with one stone and get my mammograms done?

A week later, I received the call that no woman wants to receive: "We need you to come in for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound." I was told that since the mammograms I had were my first digital ones, the machine might be overly sensitive and may have picked up something that wasn't serious. But just in case, I needed to come in. They told me to clear my schedule for the entire morning of my appointment because the doctor was going to need time to examine all my tests and give me my results that same day.

My grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born. My aunt had breast cancer. My mother survived cervical cancer only to die from adrenal cancer that spread to her lungs. I have two uncles, one on each side of my family, who died of stomach cancer. Another died of lung cancer.

You can imagine how I felt when I got the call.

BMNB, ever the cool cucumber, was decidedly unalarmed. "That's not the vibe I get," he told me when I voiced concern that this might be serious. You see, BMNB and his family are psychic AND prayerful. He didn't see anything serious in my future, he went to church on Sunday and prayed on it, and, as far as he was concerned, there was nothing serious that would be discovered during my follow-up appointment.

I wasn't as certain.

After waiting a week after getting "the call," I went in today. I was hoping the diagnostic mammogram would clear things up. As I sat waiting for the x-ray tech to tell me there was nothing serious, all the while wearing the "special" three-armhole mammogram hospital gown, I quietly prayed:

"Lord, I need a little grace and favor today."

I hadn't slept well the night before, thinking of all the things I hadn't done. I hadn't had kids. I hadn't traveled as much with BMNB. I hadn't started that charter school my best friend and I had been talking about since the '80's.

The x-ray tech returned. "We need to do the ultrasound. Could you come this way?"

Not the result I'd hoped for.

The ultrasound tech explained that if the ultrasound came back negative, the doctor would let her tell me. If not, the doctor would come in to discuss my results.

"So, if you return, I'm good, but if the doctor comes in, I've got a problem."

She tried to soften the blow. "Well, sometimes the doctors come in to tell good results."

I didn't believe her.

After she finished the ultrasound, she told me I could wait on the diagnostic table. The ultrasound room was dimmed, almost dark. She must have read my mind. "Sometimes, people even take a short nap while they're waiting."

There was no way I was going to be able to sleep.

"Lord, I need a little grace and favor today."

Needless to say, I've never been so happy to see an ultrasound tech in all my life.

"It's a cyst. Cancers aren't as round as cysts . . . ." As she continued explaining the differences in appearances between a cancer and a cyst, all I could hear was, "It's a cyst."

The Lord granted me grace and favor, at least for today.

So I'm writing this to encourage all women over the age of 40 to get mammograms, especially if you're overdue. And get a DIGITAL mammogram, not one of the old kind. Travel if you need to, but get a digital mammogram. As for recent medical guidelines telling us that we don't need to get mammograms as frequently as we were told in the past, I say forget them. Everything is a statistic until YOU'RE the statistic. So don't become the statistic.

And, for God's sake, don't wait until your husband has a stomach virus to get a mammogram.

PS Thank you, BMNB, for being with me every step of the way.


CWest said…
I really enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for being real with us today. I don't say that as if you're not real other days, but what I mean is, thank you for sharing this story with us and being so open. I admire your writing. Thank God that ultrasound tech was the one who walked back into the room. Keep on doin' what you do.

Thank you! Kind words from you and other readers keep me keepin' on.


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