A scary good day…

On Monday, I had my annual mammogram.  The following day, I received a message that there was a problem and I needed to come back.  I missed the call and didn’t get the message until late, so I had to wait until this morning to call back.  The way the message sounded, there was an issue with an image, not an issue with me.  I had no worries.  Then I spoke to someone and the panic started to set in….

The woman on the phone insisted I come back as soon as possible.  I mentioned that I had to take a 1/2 day from work today for my annual gynecology appointment and since it was in the building, I asked if I could come in today.  I explained that I had a broken foot and it is hard for me to get around.  I was advised they only have “recalls” come back before 2 pm.  The kind woman on the phone was able to squeeze me in and told me I could go to my appointment and it wouldn’t be a problem.  She said it was urgent that I come back in as soon as possible because of the issue with my image.

I arrived early and was literally rushed back to the patient waiting room (I should note there were tons of people waiting).  I started wondering what was going on.  It became pretty clear to me that there was something wrong with me when I heard someone whisper that I was a “recall”.  When I finally spoke to someone in person, I was told there wasn’t an issue with my “image” but that something showed up on the image and they needed to clarify what it was.  I slowly felt a flush creep up my body.  There was something wrong with me??  No.  I was, naively, not prepared for this.  While I sat waiting to be called back, my mind started to race…..

What would I do if I had breast cancer?

Would I still be able to work?

Could I afford to take time off?

How would I pay for Georgia’s medication?

How would I pay my mortgage, car payment, bills….

Who would take care of my pets if I didn’t make it???

Would I have to stop taking my biologic drug?

Did my medication cause this?

How would I tell my family??

My mind was reeling (for a span of 20 minutes) but I noticed I was worrying about everything else but myself.

The images were taken and I had to wait again.  I asked if I could go to my appointment and come back and was told no, I needed to wait.  Then the doctor called again and requested more images.  They literally twisted my breast (honestly, I never knew my breast to move in that particular direction and I’m kind of proud of it) and squeezed it into the machine (the bruises are developing as I type).  Oh, and the woman working with me couldn’t seem to wrap her brain around the fact that I couldn’t stand on my broken foot and I needed to lean on something.  She kept telling me to move over not realizing she was in the way of my scooter.  For about 20 seconds I was literally being held up weakly by my good leg and my left boob without anything to balance me.  (I’m telling you, my left boob deserves an MVP award today).  I was told I that I had a mass that was 1) blocking view of what was underneath and 2) the mass could be an issue itself.  I was told this, then allowed to leave to see my gynecologist but I would have to come back immediately after my appointment.

While waiting for my gyno appointment my phone rang.  I let it go to voicemail because I knew I had no reception.  Once I got in the room, I asked if I could listen to the message. The nurse said yes (because she was able to see the results on her computer screen).  I was clear.  The woman, who only 10 minutes earlier was acting like the end of the world was near, was happy and cheery letting me know that I was fine.  The mass was dense tissue, she said.  She finished with have a good day and they would see me next year.  Uh…yay!!!  But….seriously???  I felt like I was going to faint from relief.  My gynecologist reviewed everything and said there were no concerns at all (based on what he could see).

Now deep down, I knew I didn’t have cancer.  I get blood work done so regularly that I figured something would have been noticed.  I do self checks.  I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family….but the call back was frightening.  I ended up getting so tense by the situation, that my muscles literally ache tonight.  I’m emotionally exhausted….but I know I am lucky.  Many women don’t get good news at the end of a situation like I had today.  Karma, God, and guardian angels were all on my side today.  So today might have been a stressful day, but it was a good day.  I am grateful, kind of sore, but extremely relieved.  I live with multiple chronic illnesses and I deal, but I’m not sure how I would deal with something life threatening.  I pray that I never find out.

Get yourself checked my friends and be well.


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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

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