Friday, 7 September 2012

Breast screening: Time to smell the roses




There's a sign on the desk at the Ottawa Women's Breast Health Centre at the Civic Hospital asking fellow travellers to dump out their change into a jar. The centre is expanding and needs the support of those who use it.
I used it yesterday, and dutifully donated my coffee money to the cause. My donation was pretty pitiful considering most of the money in that jar was in the form of fives and tens. I didn't have more on me, or I would gladly have given it.
Catch ya later.
Yesterday was my call back from the breast-cancer screening I had done two weeks ago. The radiologist noticed a small "nodule" which one of the technicians explained was a "density", and he wanted to get a better boo at what it was. So my left breast was squeezed and contorted, slathered with cream and examined with an ultrasound paddle.
Then I sat in a pretty little room with several women of all ages, shapes and sizes while I waited for the verdict.
In the short half hour I sat there, I heard the stories of two women. One, a 78-year-old, was going through her second round of radiation.
"I've had cataracts, ankle surgery and this," she said. "But I really feel lucky. My niece is in the Bruyere. Her radiation made her cancer spread and she's dying."
Another woman, about my age was like me, in for a call back.
We didn't have any war stories from the breast cancer trenches, so we chitchatted about breast reduction, something I'm considering having. She'd had it a decade ago.
"You'll love it," she said. "Unfortunately, mine grew back."
There was another woman sitting with us as we discussed everything from the tragic shooting in Montreal to the language issues in West Quebec. She stared blankly ahead and I could feel a chill coming off her.
At this place, they deal with everything. Most of us will be going home, but others will have their lives changed forever by what the radiologist sees in the pictures.
The good news is, nowadays, there's no waiting game. By the end of your session, you know where you stand.
Thankfully, I had a good day yesterday, though I've got to go back in six months for a recheck to be sure what the radiologist saw wasn't malevolent in some way.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with the Kodak mammography sales guy two decades ago when I worked at the company.
"The technology is so good that a lot of times they see something so early they can't do anything about it."
I guess he was talking about me.
Oh well, I can get a lot of living done in six months. I'm not going to worry about it.
I could get run over by a bus or felled by a toilet from space in that time.
I'm just happy to know that the docs know about it this early.
Peace of mind. That's what I feel.
In the meantime, the whole experience has made me appreciate what all that running and fundraising does. It provides nice rooms and cosy pillows for those going through what can be a terrifying experience. And it provides the equipment for my radiologist to see my nodule even if he can't do anything about it now.
He knows.
I know.
Now it's time to smell the roses.

1 comment:

  1. So glad everything came out fine Rose!! You must be mightily relieved. But - all that running and fundraising is actually about funding clinical research and clinical trials. The government provides the equipment and pillows. There are now over 70 ways to treat breast cancers. There are several types and each has to be approached differently, depending on the age and stage of the patient and the cancer. Your followers will find all kinds of great information at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society web sites. Cheers!

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