Before you read this, I want you to know that All’s Well That Ends Well. All is well.

Do you remember a few years back when I explained the whole mammogram thing to you? In a nutshell (in a nutshell?), you go to a place like Metro Imaging, you fill out some paperwork, you take off your shirt, you get smooshed four times, and then five minutes later you’re walking out the door with a smile on your face and a certificate that says, “Clear!”

This morning I went in for my mammogram. I filled out the questionnaire, I pulled off my shirt, I got smooshed four times, and then the tech came back into the room and said, “The doctor wants me to take a few more shots. We’re seeing something on your right breast.”

Me: What are you seeing?

Tech: It’s a mass. If you want, I can show it to you on the screen.

So, I walked over (with shaky legs because I’m no superhero) and checked out my mass. It’s a big white thing that sort of looks like an embryonic foot.

She took four more x-rays, but this time with really crazy smooshing. Like, borderline painful smooshing. (Actually, take out the word Borderline in that last sentence.)

Tech: Go ahead and wait in here in case he needs more images.

I sat in the chair and thought to myself, “This is how it starts for people who are about to be told that they have cancer.”

I then thought about Virginia. I thought about Virginia a lot.

Pretty soon the doctor came in and shook my hand and told me that he doesn’t really like what he’s seeing, and was wondering if we could do two more shots. If he doesn’t like how they look, he would like me to have an ultrasound.

Doctor: Your breasts are very dense.

Me: That’s probably the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day.

(I tend to ramble semi-inappropriately when I’m going through the whole rush of adrenaline thing. It’s either lift a Subaru Forester with one hand or ramble. There was no Forester in sight.)

So, they did the shots, and I was once again left in the room by myself.

That’s when I started thinking that we should probably make this Christmas really great because you never know what’s going to happen in the next year and I should probably write some letters to the girls to be opened on their prom nights and their graduation nights and their wedding nights and when/if they have babies. (I know. Do you have any idea how much of a fatalist I can be? I can definitely be a fatalist.)

The tech returned.

“He wants us to do the ultrasound.”

So, five minutes later found me lying on a table with gel squirted on my bare chest (cue the raunchy music) and I was all shaky and feeling sick and the ultrasound tech was young and pretty and wanted to talk about Black Friday.

Tech: Do you shop on Black Friday?

Me: I don’t really shop, but I like to drink coffee and watch the people. But I can’t really think about that right now.

Tech: Well, I know I won’t be going to Best Buy or any of those places where fights could break out and blah blah blah blah blah…

(I honestly couldn’t focus on a thing she was saying, because I was thinking about the knitting projects that I would like to finish and the books I need to read and the freelance chapters I want to turn in and the letters I should write and last April I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in 12 years and we’ve spent some time getting to know each other again and wondering why we’re back in each other’s lives now. Like, what is the meaning of this? Did our paths cross at that coffee place just because we were both craving cookies at the same time (I tend to not believe in coincidence), or is there a reason that goes a little bit deeper and is THIS the reason? Me on this table with ten bad x-rays and some sloppy goop on my chest and a not very positive attitude?)

((Please know that I know how DRAMATIC I am. I’m honestly the luckiest person I know, so when the system hiccups, I tend to fuhreak out. I may be charming from a distance. Close up? Beady-eyed and jittery. Think about a wet Chihuahua. That’s me, but bipedal. (Although, I run like a cheetah in my dreams.)))

Ten minutes after the ultrasound, the doctor came in.

Doctor: Are you tired of seeing me yet?

Me: Heh. Yes. No?

Doctor: I just wanted to tell you that it’s a cyst. Just a big fluid-filled cyst. Nothing to worry about.

Me: Nothing to worry about?

Doctor: Nope. Put your shirt on, and we’ll see you in a year.

I put my shirt on, walked out to my car, and numbly drove to Trader Joe’s where I purchased every single item in the store that has anything at all to do with stir frying vegetables. (Don’t ask questions. I don’t know the answers to your questions.) I also bought myself a tiny gift box of dark chocolate sea salted caramels, because my breasts are very dense and I’ll use just about anything as an excuse to treat myself to sea salted caramels.

I didn’t get the certificate this time around, and that’s okay. I have no space on my wall for certificates, and no more time to waste, and that sounds like a big profound statement, but I didn’t mean for it to be. I actually have a freelance deadline tomorrow, and my final spreadsheet is big and spooky. Like my breasts. I have no idea how to end this entry. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

32 thoughts on “Before you read this, I want you to know that All’s Well That Ends Well. All is well.”

  1. I had something similar happen recently, and I too was making a mental bucket list tearfully in the doctor’s office. Fortunately I too got good news, but those few moments when you’re Schrodinger’s cat are scary.

  2. Glad things turned out well. I had a similar experience except I was sent home with a big ok everything looks great. Then a message was left on my answering machine to call back and that I needed another appointment for a second mammogram. I certainly had bad thoughts going on. (I have a good friend that had breast cancer and is now cancer free.) Had an ultrasound and was told to come back in 6 months. The six month mammogram went well. Still have to go back in six months though. My spot is supposed to be a calcium deposit.

  3. yes. This is actually why I ran the marathon. Same experience only stretched over a couple of weeks – mammogram, days of no worry followed by a call that there is a “mass”, week & a half later finally a mammogram and this new info that I have dense breasts. Meanwhile sleepless nights thinking about my daughter being raised w/o a mother. Thoughts of all the things I haven’t done yet. Thoughts of 3 aunts that have or had breast cancer. I’m glad you’re ok.

  4. These things reveal weird things about ourselves, not necessarily things we are ready to face. I’m glad it all turned out well, and I’m glad your mammo place is not like my mammo place, where they made me wait 6 weeks – including Thanksgiving and Christmas – to get the follow-up ultrasound the first time they discovered my dense lumpy breasts. THAT was a fun holiday season, thinking “Hey, this could be my last! Woo hoo! More eggnog in case I die!” Ok, not that fun. ANYWAY, glad all is well. Enjoy the caramels.

  5. I immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion in these situations too. I’m so glad you’re okay.

  6. Yikes! But then, Whew! I’m sorry you had to go through that. I too am very dramatic and tend to go into major thought spirals – or to spend a lot of time trying to figure out the “right” time to do things, in case there is an issue – which is down right not-smart, because you shouldn’t wait around on these things……
    So – good for you for going – and I’m SO glad all is well.

  7. So glad everything turned out OK. I just got the breast smooshing out of the way last week and luckily, got my certificate. Although with my family history, it’s really only a matter of time. Time to enjoy more sea salt caramels.

  8. Thank you for the All’s Well disclaimer. I’m thankful for salted caramels and dense boobs.(?)

  9. Glad everything is okay. I am a fatialist too and maybe more so cause I think you should get a second opinion.

  10. So glad all is well!
    I had the very same experience–except I had to wait a week between the initial “we’re not sure what we’re seeing here” and the additional mammograms, sonograms, etc.
    I’ve never felt so light and lucky as when I left that exam room!

  11. Big, WHEW. I just went through this with my woman parts and came straight home and ate a baked potato. Feelings and food, man. Feelings and food.

  12. Are you me?? And I write this blog unbeknownst to myself?! I’m glad for big fluid-filled cysts and I KNOW how life’s hiccups in an otherwise perfectly wonderful life can send one shaking and cowering in a corner. I’m extra thankful this Thanksgiving, that you could write the title of your post, and for one hundred other things.

  13. well, I’m very sorry that you had to go through that roller coaster. and that you were thinking of me. but i am $($*@@($#%#( happy that it’s a cyst!!! (I cursed politely, I know your blog is much less curse-y than mine)

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the disclaimer before we read this. You’re a thoughtful girl.

    Add me to the throngs of your readers who have had a similar experience, meaning the “we want to do an ultrasound” after the mammogram. Mine was nothing, too, but the time spent in between the initial “concern” and the final “you’re okay” is a crummy place to be.

    At least your breasts are dense. Yay for youth!

    Side note: I have no idea if this is relevant, or even of interest to you, but I used to have cysts in my breasts when I was a young woman, got them all the time, and they were mildly painful. Nobody ever suggested doing anything about them, and they just stopped appearing sometime around menopause for me.

  15. My heart hurts for you – that’s such a terrifying experience. I had to get my cervix stabbed a couple years back to prove it wasn’t full of the cancer. I got my clear results a couple weeks later and bashfully deleted my 200 Google searches for cervical cancer from my browser history. I’m glad they were able to clear it up so quickly!

  16. Yay! Very happy for you. The exact same thing happened to me, except with the other ending. But the lump was removed, I got nuked, and here I still am 15 years later, with uneven headlamps but a better appreciation of life. We both got gifts!

  17. Aieee! The sharp intake of breath I experienced toward the beginning of this post completely pushed your disclaimer out of my brain. Completely! I scrolled quickly down to the end so I could find out what happened. I saw your last sentence! Instantly, my face started to rain. My hands were shaking so much it was hard to scroll back up to the top and start over. But then? Whew, oh WHEW!

    Like Grammy, I’ve been through a good handful or more of those iffy mammos, followed by biopsies, followed by the anxiously awaited “all clear”, and then a more recent BIG SCARE. Between the BIG SCARE and *that* “All Clear” (Again, Whew, oh WHEW!) which happened just before the holidays a couple of years back, I found myself in the big box store, list in hand, starting to hoist up a 25lb bag of sugar, when I stopped myself with the realization that what represented a year’s supply for my baking needs would likely go unused for several decades by my surely-soon-to-be-widowed husband. I have the start of the subsequent “Letters to Unborn Grandchildren” still here on the computer. It’s a good reminder that life can be shorter than we anticipate. Whether we see it coming or not (hit by a car en-route to the store tomorrow, anyone?) it might not be a bad thing to get those letters written anyway.

    Really really REALLY glad you are OK.

    And to readers like Pam above whose short-term outcome was different, but who have since had happy endings, three cheers for recent advances in medical miracles!

    ((((Group Hug, Pudding Pals!))))

  18. OMG!!! I had the same thing !!! dense breasted mean you are skinny is what my OB said. I had the mam then the call to go in for another then the please wait for the ultrasound tech where I was wait I have dense breastwork there should be no more oh wait!!!! Then I had to have a biopsy. Then I googled core needle biopsy and saw a video of the doctors explaining it where the Dr had a breasted implant with an olive in it and for woke reason gene Simmons was the guest and he practically passed out after the Dr did it! So the I fureaked ot. When I finally had the biopsy I felt like I was a car getting work done be queen the machine was so darn loud!!!! Then I had to wait a WEEK!!!!! For the results. The only good thing was that a friend of mine had the same thing and we both were fine and now whenever we see each other we high five our boobs! So we are now bbff (best boon friends forever) ha ha sorry for the ramble.

  19. If that’s what you call dramatic, then I am dramatic, too. I have written mental letters to my boys before when going through a medical hiccup. How very scary; so glad you’re ok.

  20. Oh dear…I’m holding your hand from here. I’ve been there and done that and it is awful. I remember laying on the table after they biopsied my cyst, waiting for them to take me back for another mammogram. I couldn’t help it. Tears just leaked out my eyes. The whole process is terrifying. I’m thankful that you’re OK.

  21. OH DUDE. So glad you and your super dense boobs are okay! I have to get an ultrasound every dang time, and you’d think I’d have an inner monologue all ready to go, but no; every single time I’m sort of terrified and spend the whole 20 minutes on the table picking out nice funeral music (something to make people cry, but not TOO much) and wondering how long it will take my husband to remarry.

  22. SO, SO incredibly happy that you’re OK. Thank you very much for the disclaimer at the beginning. I actually scrolled up a couple of times to remind myself of said disclaimer (I know, instead of rushing to the bottom to find out you’re OK…so I’m weird).

    That reminds me that 9 years ago this weekend, I woke up in the middle of the night with excrutiating abdominal pain, and called my then girlfriend to take me to the ER. I thought it was maybe kidney stones. 8mg of morphine and 5mg of dilaudid later, the ER doc came to the doorway of my room in the ER and quickly said “you have a grapefruit sized mass on your ovary, so we’ve called the gynocologist on-call to see you.” Well, I was loopy enough from drugs that I didn’t get the full impact of that statement, but my girlfriend sure did. I knew that if I had an ovarian tumor that size that I was definitely a goner. Luckily, the gynocologic surgeon on-call the next day said it was most likely a cyst, and off to surgery I went. It turned out to actually be a cyst on my fallopian tube, and it had gotten so large that it twisted my fallopian tube shut, thus causing the *severe* pain. Nope…no pain meds needed after that surgery at all, because the pain from the surgery was so much less than the pain pre-surgery.

  23. So many of us seem to have gone through something similar. Lots of variation in how we were treated and how we took it.

    My story #1: I had a questionable mammo a number of years ago. Turned out to be nothing, maybe just an overactive radiologist, but the whole thing passed by without a ripple in my psyche. Color me oblivious.

    My story #2: Three years ago at this time I was having abdominal pain similar to when I had had a couple gall bladders attacks in the past. I went to my doctor, who ordered an ultrasound. She called me then to say, “Your gall bladder is fine but there is an abnormal curve on your pancreas.” I know enough about medicine to know that by the time pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it is a death sentence. It took a couple weeks to get me scheduled for a CAT scan; in the meantime I was completely philosophical and my husband was a wreck. After the cat scan my doc called to say my pancreas was beautiful and have a nice Christmas. (I love my doc.)

  24. I would react the same way. I think most folks would. I too have dense boobs. I have the women on both sides of my family to thank for that:)That being said I am so very happy you are alright!!!

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