Real Men Do Wear Pink
And Breast Cancer
It has been a month since I posted a column about the experience of undergoing my first mammogram. And I promised I would keep you updated about my progress.
On Tuesday, April 28, I saw my doctor again after finishing two sessions of taking antibiotics she had prescribed for what she and the radiologist believed to be an infection in my right breast.
Please remember that there was what appeared to be swelling or “fullness” in that breast. There was also tenderness and pain. The doctors were especially concerned because of my family history: My mother died of breast cancer in 2010, after battling the deadly disease three times.
Each time it recurred, it was much more aggressive than the previous occurrence. Finally, at age 95 and literally worn out, my mother decided not to submit to any more surgery, and believed that radiation and chemotherapy would do more harm than good.
Several months after that decision, she died peacefully in her sleep one night. She had gone from being 120 pounds, down to about 80. But she was ready to go, and knew her shepherd would welcome her.
As for me, I didn’t sleep much the night before my doctor visit earlier this week. All sorts of things dashed in and out of mind. I was also nervous while waiting in the examining room for my doctor to come in. When she finally did, I told her that the 20 days of antibiotics seems to have been somewhat beneficial. There was less swelling or “fullness” in the breast; very little actual pain, but still some tenderness around the nipple.
After she probed, prodded and asked several questions, she had a smile on her face, which helped to lighten my mood. She said she believed the “spot,” or infection was gone. I shouted, “Yes!” — but only inside my own head.
I knew there was a “but” — and there was. “We won’t know for sure until there’s another ultrasound and mammogram,” she said.
Remembering the pain, discomfort and overall strangeness of the previous mammogram, set in a place (The Women’s Breast Center) where I felt out of place, I began to negotiate. “How about just a follow-up ultrasound,” I asked, “but not another mammogram?”
After thinking about it for a few seconds, she said, “Okay, I’ll put on the referral just a follow-up ultrasound.” But when she saw the smile beam across my face, she added a caution: “But if the radiologist determines you still need a second mammogram, I’ll have to concur.”
My smile shrank. She gave me the referral form requesting only the ultrasound test, and told me to call promptly to schedule the procedure. It’s been a day or so now, and I haven’t called, yet. Don’t worry, I will.
But I still hold out hope that I won’t have to face the sadistic robot, “Klaatu” — that imposing mammogram machine — again.