Saturday, February 5, 2011

Make My Day

Can I just say, "Yaay!!!"

A couple of days ago, I unexpectedly received the following email from a friend.

By the way...I had my annual gyn appt today, and I scheduled my mammo for next year while I was there.  I was waiting for the receptionist to find a spot for me in Dec and I thought of your blog....and heard myself tell her...."set me up for an ultrasound following the mammo, too."    Thank you.

I had recently written here of this friend and the suspicious results she received after her yearly mammogram.  It drove me to rant about the need for ultrasounds in conjunction with mammograms.  From personal experience, I believe each alone are not enough in detecting early stage breast cancer.

My friend's unclear results led to a follow up ultrasound which was thankfully, normal, but couldn't days of worry have been avoided if the ultrasound was included along with the mammo initially?

And what if it were and her mammo looked fine, but the ultrasound detected something suspicious?  As mine did back in 2009?  Where would I be today if that ultrasound weren't part of my yearly?

Where are the many women in that situation that didn't have the ultrasound? How long will they walk around before the cancer is discovered?

Yes, I'm breaking things down simplistically, when breast cancer screening is anything but simple.  Many variables determine whether or not an ultrasound can or should be included in a yearly screening.  Insurance coverage being a huge one.  Family history, age, doctor recommendations, cost, just to name a few.

I know too much about breast cancer to say early detection will prevent all advanced breast cancer.  I know that's not true.  Some women never see it coming and there is no way around that.  A cure needs to be found for them, and the causes of this disease uncovered as the only way to protect future generations from knowing it.

But for now, one woman hearing the early detection message made my day and that's why I'm sharing her email.  Maybe someone else will get the message, fight for her ultrasound and save her life.  Maybe one woman at a time, we'll make some progress.

It's a start.  So, demand the ultrasound, tell me about it and make my day.

Dare you.


9 comments:

  1. Definitely all great points Stacey. My own experience was the reverse. Had to fight to get initial ultrasound which was inconclusive (or wasn't read correctly!) and then had to fight to get mammogram which showed abnormality which ended up being Stage IIIA breast cancer. Why did I have so much trouble? Because I was only 33 at the time, and conventional medical wisdom says young women don't get breast cancer, and their breasts are too dense for anything to be reliably detected by mammogram. WRONG on all counts. Bottom line? Our Bodies, Ourselves. We must be our own advocates.

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  2. P.S. There's also a third option. MRI should be also considered in conjunction with mammogram and ultrasound. The whole point is that none of these methods are foolproof but at least it's a start.

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  3. Stacey, I think the real barrier here is cost. Before my diagnosis, I was contemplating an MRI due to my family history. The cost was huge and insurance coverage was iffy. I never had one. I did have an ultra sound along with my mammogram following my ER visit when my tumor was initially found. I agree, both tests are better than one. One is still better than none. And don't get me started on waiting til 50 to start mammograms! As Anna pointed out, younger women DO get breast cancer. Anyway, you raised good points and I'm happy your friend turned out to be OK.

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  4. YES! However, I will add that when they did my ultrasound they could find nothing, zero, nada. Luckily I knew the radiologist and he swore he knew there was something there. Thank God for Dr. Tullis and intuition.

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  5. Anna, I think it's crazy that age might be a determining factor, obviously, young women get breast cancer. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard of doctors (radiologists) saying come back in 6 months, odds are with you because of age. Ridiculous. Also, I thought about mentioning MRI, but I know the cost is just too prohibitive here. I only had mine after the biopsy.

    Hi Nancy, I agree about the cost. That's why I didn't mention MRI. My cousin, who is high risk as I was, actually even more so, since she now in addition to her mom, and aunt (my mom) has me, a first cousin. Anyway, she had to fight with her insurance company for more than a month to get her MRI. What's it take?

    Lisa, wow, that's a story. A good radiologist won't be dictated by age or family history. At least they shouldn't be. I'm glad you had a good one.

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  6. Stacey, what you say is very true. My 1stDXwas in"93. I was 42 abd trying to get a DX for 2 yrs. They kept telling me it was scar tiisue from a biopsy in "77. Ultrsounds were inconclusive and afte 2 yrs of wrangling w/ OB/GYN,mammos and ultra-sound, a five minute visit with a surgeon was told the lump needed to come out. Now, with mets in 9/10 I wonder if better investigation and earlier surgery would have changed anything.Thanks for all I learn from your Blogs. (Posting anonymous because I have yahoo and don't know how to get an account that will post (:o))jill

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  7. Jill, I can't tell you how many times I hear stories like that. It's sad that so much wasted time can lead to more advanced cases of breast cancer. That's time no one can get back and second guessing isn't good for anyone. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your comment. I'm happy you did.

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  8. Stacey, for years I fought getting an ultrasound. My doctors ordered it every year and every year I complained. Why did I need it, insurance didn't cover it, it didn't make a difference, etc. A couple years ago the technician finally explained to me what the ultrasound could find that the mammogram couldn't . I stopped complaining.

    This year that annual ultrasound saved my life. It found the suspicious areas in both breasts that ended up being breast cancer in both. We caught it at stage 1. I begin preventative chemo tomorrow but yes ladies fight for those ultrasounds.

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  9. Hi TJ, you are the reason I keep this blog alive and am seriously considering returning to it and becoming a more active voice, once again, in this community. Thank God you had your ultrasound when you did, but due to all the confusing, misinformation out there, many women are going without. Insurance companies don't make it easy. It's frustrating how they follow a given set of parameters that don't apply to all women. We are not made of paper. We're all different and still so much has to change for any real progress to be made in this disease. See, I'm on my soapbox here when all I want to do is comment to you. Blogging, it's a good thing. Spread your story, tell of your experience. My thoughts are with you today as you begin chemo. I think I know where you are. If there's anything I can help with, a ride somewhere, please don't hesistate. I'll try not to grumble about the pink machine too much. Be well. Thank you for reading and writing! xoxo

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