My First Mammogram (& Ultrasound...& Biopsy)
As you may already know, in November I found out that I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation, and after what felt like forever, I finally got around to scheduling my first mammogram. Because mammograms aren't super effective before age 30, the radiologist wanted to do an ultrasound as well, and it was then that we all saw a black mark on the image of my right breast.
"It's probably just a lymph node or a benign cyst," he said. "But because of your family history and the fact that you have a BRCA gene mutation, I think we should do a biopsy to be 100% sure."
My heart sank and tears pricked the surface of my eyes as he and the nurse explained what would happen during my biopsy. I know that no one likes needles, but the thought of a lidocaine injection followed by a larger needle digging beneath my flesh was enough to send me into a panic. And that was before even giving myself a second to process the thought that at age 27, I might already have cancer.
"It's probably nothing." That's what they said to me. But it's also what they said to my mom.
For almost six days all I thought about were double mastectomies and the babies I might never have. I thought about surgery, and chemo, and radiation, and numbing injections into my right breast under fluorescent lights.
But I made the appointment, and then I went in on Wednesday afternoon, filled out some paperwork, and proceeded to get a little loopy on Valium. I put on a hospital gown and lay down on a table next to an ultrasound machine and some syringes. The procedure wasn't nearly as terrifying or painful as I thought it was going to be. I barely felt the initial needle, and after that it was just pressure. If I ever have to do it again, I think I'll be okay. The loud clicking sound of them taking tissue samples was probably the worst part.
I didn't think I'd hear any news until today or even Monday, but late yesterday afternoon I answered a call from an upbeat woman in the radiology department.
"Hi Megan, I'm calling with some good news about your biopsy results."
Fucking lymph nodes, man.
The relief I feel now is unlike anything I've ever experienced. And I'm so glad I chose to get not only the gene testing last year, but the mammogram, and the ultrasound, and the biopsy. Sure, earlier this week I felt like I was going to puke every day, but if there's something wrong with me, I want to know.
If I can't be a cancer previvor, I at least want a shot at being a survivor.
So here I am today, a little sore and a little bruised, but incredibly thankful. And I feel deeply called to share every step of this journey with you all. I know now that this was always meant to be part of my life. And if you're going through something similar--or even if you aren't--I want to tell you that being brave may be easier said than done, but it's worth the work.
Take care of yourself. Know your options. Get the biopsy. Don't panic. And breathe.
We're going to be okay.