The masses December 10, 2013Posted by Judy in Musings.
Tags: breast cancer, cancer, healthcare
People are not infallible. They make mistakes and things get overlooked. Sometimes it’s carelessness and sometimes it’s an honest mistake. I’m going to give the first sonographer the benefit of the doubt and say that it was an honest mistake rather than sloppy work (although my gut wants me to think the latter.) You see, she missed the other mass. Yep, you read that right, I have two masses. The second mass was found during the biopsy prep this morning. The sonographer (not the same one from last time), was looking around to be sure everything was set correctly when she saw the other mass. But at this point, I should back up.
Overall, my experience this morning was leagues better than my original experience. Everyone was much more forthcoming with information. Even though some of our questions made them uncomfortable, I felt like they still made an effort to answer in the best way they knew how. (Hubs would probably disagree with me on this assessment, but he also has much bigger issues than I do with trusting and feeling like the healthcare professionals are competent.)
We had a little list of questions for the radiologist, and he was very happy to do his best to answer them. At our request, he showed us the ultrasound images. The mass is definitely an irregularly shaped mass. It isn’t smooth and round, it isn’t even oval or trapezoidal or any other shape with a name. It really is very irregular, kinda like an amoeba. So he said it could be one of four things: a fibroadenoma, a lactoadenoma, an atypia, or a cancerous mass. He pretty much ruled out the fibroadenoma due to the irregular shape. He also ruled out the lactoadenoma, but I can’t remember why. So we are left with atypia, (which is a way to refer to all masses that fall into the “it’s not malignant, but it’s also not benign” category) or cancerous. (I should clarify that this conversation was about the original mass. At this point in the conversation, the second mass had not been discovered.) Based on the answers to some of our other questions, I really got the feeling that the mass was definitely a cause for concern and it would be best to remove it. The purpose of the biopsy would then to be discover what type of mass was being removed. Apparently the protocol is different if it’s malignant vs. atypical.
So back to the biopsy. I had an ultrasound guided core biopsy. This means that there was a sonoagrapher there helping the radiologist navigate, making sure that the tissue was removed from the correct place. When the radiologist was looking around, he noticed the second mass which the sonographer had just seen. I could immediately tell that he was thrown for a loop and was feeling quite indecisive as to what to do about it. He kept looking around, turning the Doppler on and off, looking around some more. He was trying to see the mass more clearly to see whether or not it was a cause for concern. From what I could see, it was not as irregularly shaped as the original mass, but it also wasn’t perfectly round or smooth. Ultimately, they decided it would be best to biopsy both masses.
Here is where it gets interesting. It appears that the original mass is NOT the one associated with the pain I was feeling. The second mass, however, seemed to be the one I was feeling. (I’m basing this on the fact that when the biopsy was done, I felt pain in the very place I’d been feeling it for the past several weeks.) So my take on it is this. The first sonographer messed up in not finding the mass associated with the lump I was feeling. But, maybe this was a blessing in disguise. Given the fact that the second mass was not as crazily shaped, and maybe not as concerning, it’s possible that they wouldn’t have decided to do a biopsy, and maybe they never would have found the crazily shaped mass.
The biopsy itself was rather quick and not entirely painless. The biopsy of the original mass was virtually pain free. It just felt like someone had flicked me with their finger. The second mass was much worse. They gave me a little squeeze ball so that my arm wouldn’t go numb. I was glad to have it to squeeze during the tissue extraction. I think I can officially say I’m really good at hiding pain. After the procedure, they were asking me to rate my pain. I gave a 1 or 2 for the first biopsy and a 4 or 5 for the second. “Oh no! That’s not good! You didn’t seem to be in any pain!” Yes, well. I have four natural deliveries in my court, so I’m familiar with pain and have good coping strategies. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the pain! 😉
Anyway, I’m not really sure what to think about all of this. On the one hand, my good friend is going through her own breast cancer issues and just had surgery yesterday, so breast cancer is very much so on the brain. On the other hand, I’d like to remain positive. Part of me is completely stressed about the outcome. The other part realizes that stressing out accomplished and changes nothing, so I might as well live in the moment. Fortunately, this week is a very busy week, so it shouldn’t be hard to stay occupied!
As a final note, the mammo today was seriously a piece of cake. Zero pain at all. Phew!