Alternative Therapies · Health

Breast Cancer Scare, Part 1

images-4The first day of June was a beautiful San Diego day; it was the kind of the day that this area is known for.  Barely a cloud in the sky, about 72 degrees with a gentle breeze coming off the ocean.  I had an appointment to get my first thermogram from MyPinkImage in Solana Beach and I was 100% certain that the tech wouldn’t find anything.

I walked into the tiny boutique-like setting not knowing what to expect but open for anything to happen.  Had I read the website, I would have known, but like I said, I was confident that everything would be okay so the only thing I read was all the things not to do prior to the exam like no deodorant, no drinking of alcohol, no perfumes, no lotions, etc.

The technician greeted me (I’m forgetting her name, unfortunately) and I filled out the necessary paperwork.  After the paperwork, the tech took me back to a totally and completely freezing room.  It was like walking into a refrigerator.  This, she explained, is because you want to get the body as chilled as possible because hot spots on the breasts cannot be cooled.

The tech told me to take off my top and bra and to sit in a chair.  I waited there topless with a stranger.  If you’ve never done this type of thing before (one night stands don’t count 😉 and you’re a little shy, I don’t recommend this.  To make matters worse, she instructed me to put my hands behind my head like I’m about to do a sit-up.  And then she told me that she was going to place an ice pack on my back for 10-15 minutes to make sure that I got really chilled.  Oh, yay!  At this point, I’m cursing my friend, Sandi, for suggesting I get one of these thermograms.

Although I thought the freezer pack would be awful, it was no big deal.  I took it like a woman and pretty soon we were on to the big show.

The tech took greyscale pictures of my breasts and then took the thermography pictures.  In just a few minutes, it was all over and I got to put my clothes back on.  My technician told me that there were some abnormalities and I was shocked but didn’t ask for more information.  Part of the package for the cost of $175 (cash, or $199 credit) is that I get a full thermography report so I thought I would just wait for that to be in my inbox and go over it with Wendy.

My report arrived the next day, and indeed it showed an abnormality in my left breast where I have been experiencing pain.  The pain is off and on and has been doing this for a couple years.  I have always attributed this pain to an ill-fitting bra or too much exercise in the wrong kind of bra.  I never suspected breast cancer because I’ve been to a breast specialist before who said that breast cancer is not usually painful.  However, Google searches show that’s not completely true, especially when it’s pain in only one breast/nipple.  I should probably stop listening to Google for any health advice and just listen to the experts, but I cannot seem to learn this lesson.

With the report comes an in-depth call with Wendy who knows a heck of a lot about breast health.  She talks very quickly and you should be on a headset so that you can jot down all that she says.  I asked her if I should be worried (because I had been up most of the previous night after getting my report).  She said no with so much enthusiasm that I immediately calmed down and needed a nap.  She did suggest that I go ahead and follow all her breast health advice and go get the mammogram/ultrasound.  I immediately bought her book and made an appointment with her herbalist right away.  I’m definitely a woman of action when it comes to prevention of the big BC.

Because insurance is what it is, I had to go see my ob/gyn first prior to getting orders for an ultrasound.  As long as you only want a mammogram, you can pretty much get one, but I have dense breast tissue which means mammograms don’t show as much.  Wanting and/or needing an ultrasound requires a doctor’s order.

I called Imaging Healthcare Specialists and had the most frustrating experience known to man, woman, and child.  Their system is being updated so expect to sit on hold for forever.  The first time I called, I was on hold for about a half an hour.  The woman on the other end of the line told me that the doctor’s orders had not yet been received so I would have to call back.  Ugh #1.

I waited an hour and called back because I wanted to get in as soon as possible.  The next time I called, I got connected to someone within about two minutes (yay!) but then something made her transfer me to someone else and I waited on hold for 45 minutes.  Yes, 45 minutes at which point the lady, who didn’t understand my clipped tone, told me the first available appointment was in 3 weeks.  So, mental torture thinking I have breast cancer for 3 more weeks.  How do women do this?  Seriously, there should be a rule where one a person is ruling out breast cancer with a mammogram and an ultrasound they shouldn’t have to wait any longer than 3 days.

For some reason, the scheduler found a date that was much sooner and I only had to wait 12 days.  Even though it still seemed like forever, I knew that was the best it was going to get, so I gratefully accepted the appointment.

Join me again for part two of this essay.

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