This week’s blog picks up where we left off in Pt. 1: Mammograms and Misplaced Paperwork. Join It’s The Journey Director, Stephani Tucker, for this blog series as she journeys through her personal experience with inconclusive mammograms, a family history of breast cancer, and missing paperwork.
Flash forward to June 2018, I’d moved my family to Georgia for my husband’s job, sold a house, rented a house, bought a house, got a job, had a hysterectomy, left that first job, and accepted a position at It’s The Journey, the producers of The Georgia 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. A lot of changes and no mammogram occurred in that timeframe. And where I put that pink folder containing my mammogram and biopsy results was going to prove to be a huge issue.
As the new Executive Director, I am honored to work with this staff and volunteers and Board of Directors. It truly is a group of people that are on a mission to raise funds so that others’ experience with breast cancer can be eliminated.
Before I came on board, and because of a commercial I saw on TV, I was reminded that I had never been tested for the BRCA gene. So I made an appointment to be tested, and with my family history, I was approved to get the blood drawn. They told me they would let me know in a few weeks. That was in May. Coming to work here, I was reminded that I had not had a mammogram in 2 years. Shame on me. Seriously shame on me for not remembering the color change on my husband’s face, or the quiet tears I shed in fear. I trudged over to the mammography office and exposed my breast to yet another stranger and allowed my body to be contorted into yet more uncomfortable positions.
And I’ll be darned if they didn’t call and say the scan was inconclusive and that they would need the results from my first mammogram. The results that were in that pink folder- you know, the one that I had no idea where it was. And me remembering the name of the facility that did my mammogram back in Charlotte in 2016 was not going to happen. No pink folder, no memory of the facility meant that my doctor didn’t have access to what he needed. More waiting. And no call from the BRCA testing, so now I was starting to wonder if the small pain I was having in my chest and my lack of appetite were related to something.
There are physical warning signs of breast cancer, but do you know them? I didn’t. That is why it goes undetected for so long. You should familiarize yourself with the early warning signs (which by no means 100% means that you have breast cancer) but you should be aware of them. Early warning signs.
Flash forward to two weeks after the mammogram and two months after the genetic testing- I get a phone call. Did you know that the normal range you want to be at for the BRCA testing is 11.8? Or that most insurance companies won’t require any special testing if your risk isn’t at 20%? The very nice lady on the phone with the soothing voice who could tell that I had been holding my breath said the words “Is this is a good time to discuss your results?” My stomach sank, I dropped my water and I waited.
My score was a 27. Is that good or bad? I didn’t know, but she explained that that meant I would have to do 3D scans every 6 months and MRI scans every 6 months so that someone was looking at my exposed breast every 6 months. They would also hook me up with a Breast Care Specialist who would call me and get to know me so that if something were to be found, she would already be familiar with me and my casefile.
Since my mammogram records had not been found, since I didn’t have the paperwork or the memory to tell them where I had had the first mammogram, my doctor was going to order a new scan of the same breast that had the cyst 2 ½ years ago. And now it’s a waiting game.
The what if’s and the fear and the prayers to GOD are flying through my head. I’m trying to learn all I can about the 27% and the inconclusiveness of my breast. How, with all this technology, can it be inconclusive? How could I have not kept that pink folder with all my information in it? How can I even think I’m worthy of leading others to raise money for this very cause if I can’t be pro-active in my own care?
So, I am. I’m putting my journey out there for all of you to read, to share, to pass along, to change the way in which you think about your breasts. I’ll keep you updated as I learn more, but as my Marketing Director just said, “I appreciate your dedication to the mission, but potentially being diagnosed with breast cancer is going a bit overboard, don’t you think?”
I’m starting a journey that could turn out to be nothing. Or it could turn out be something that puts me in a category of resilient, amazingly brave and strong women that I’ve met in the last two months of leading this organization. If I knew where I put that darn folder, I could have avoided this two week wait- the wait that halts your appetite and steals your peacefulness, causing your loved ones to look at you with different eyes. The wait that makes you question every piece of your life and wonder if what you give back to others is enough to avoid this disease.
So, keep your medical records. And if you haven’t signed up for our walk, sign up either as a walker, a Team Captain or you can join my team. Or you can donate to any walker.
Tune in next time for my super fun trip to get that 2nd mammogram here in Georgia, where holding my breath took on a new meaning.