Monday 19 March 2018

Mammogram implants a new layer of fear

I'VE BEEN to the hospital so often that I know all the staff. The receptionist says to me: "Ah Marie -- I still read about you in the Herald. How time flies!"

Angela, the mammogram nurse tells me about her sister in South Africa. Last time I was here, she was being treated for breast cancer. This time around she has had her reconstructive surgery but got an infection and it took a while for her to get rid of it.

Angela carries out the mammogram. It's a little different this time because I have an implant.

"I have to take a separate X-ray for it," she explains. The mammogram takes longer and it's not any easier. I still feel like my boob is in a sandwich toaster.

Eventually it's over.

Gavin, the radiologist will look at it, compare it with last year's, and let me know the lie of the land.

After five minutes Gavin arrives and sits opposite me. He always does this, knees almost touching. I find it very comforting.

"I'm mostly happy," he says. Mostly! My heart turns over. Mostly is not good. "There is something there that we need to check," he explains. My heart stops. I immediately start to think of surgery and chemo and losing my hair again. F**k, I only have it back.


"With your history we need to do an ultrasound. Is that okay with you?"

"Yes," I whisper. Jesus just get it done and let me know.

I go outside and wait in my hospital gown. The ultrasound room is busy so I need to wait.

Angela comes out to bring in another patient. She mouths at me, "You are going to be fine."

I feel sick. A nurse comes out and brings me into the ultrasound room.

I lie down on the plinth and Gavin runs the ultrasound over my breast. He talks and I respond. I haven't a clue what he's says.

After what seems like an age he says: "Its fine. Your implant has slightly overlapped some breast tissue and that shows a thickening on the mammogram but, as you can see, that's all it is."

I take him at his word, touch his arm and say thanks.

I walk by Angela's door but it's closed. I check out with the receptionist and she says she'll see me next year. As I'm leaving, I hear my name being called.

I turn around and Angela is coming towards me.

"I told you that you would be fine," she smiles, before enveloping me in a big hug.

I meet the girls in Avoca and, instead of coffee, I have a glass of wine.

I enjoy every last drop of it.

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