Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mammography 101

Okay, boys and girls, let me share with you what I've learned today about breast calcification. See, about two weeks ago I went in for my first mammogram. Remembered not to wear deodorant (thanks for the reminder, Grace), got the ta-tas squished, no problem. Only, there was. A problem, that is. Because my doctor's office called when I was in D.C. and said that I have to go in for another mammogram because, "they saw something" on mine. "Congratulations," I told them. "You're the first person to ever look at my chest and actually see something." Because, for those you who don't know me in real life, I'm what you might call small of stature, breastically speaking. Actually, we small-chested women prefer the term "mammarily challenged." Gotta be politically correct, you know.

So I go back in today for a super close-up, ultra-zoom mammo. You might guess what that means: extreme squishing of an almost acrobatic nature. Like the tech was trying to fit my entire breast through the eye of a needle. Ugh, the pain. They're small but they're not THAT small. I waited around for about half an hour for the whatever you call the person who analyzes the films to, well, analyze the films. The tech came back and said, basically, that the guy has no idea what he's looking at because he's never seen anything like it. He was going to send my films to a colleague of his for another opinion because my pictures were so unusual. Well, you know me--I have to be one of a kind, right down to the tissue inside my boob.

What I have going on in there are microcalcifications, which are benign 80 percent of the time, according to There are two types of calcifications: macro and micro. The macro kind tend to be larger bits of calcium deposits, mostly due to aging, and are usually benign. Microcalcifications are smaller, little specks of white that usually appear in a kind of pattern, like little circles or lines, and indicate extra cell activity in the breast tissue. This cell growth could be a sign of early breast cancer. My microcalcifications are apparently shaped like fireworks (according to the mammo tech) so I guess my boob is celebrating July 4th a little early. I'm going in on July 7th to have a needle biopsy to find out if my little fireworks are precancerous cell growth or just my breast having a little Independence Day party without my permission.

There are a lot of non-cancer reasons why these microcalcifications might appear, including

  • old injury to breast tissue, natural wear and tear
  • mastitis, or inflammation caused by a breast infection
  • calcium collected inside a dilated milk duct
all of which describe my situation. When Eleven was only a month old, I had mastitis pretty bad. I had to be hospitalized and have surgery to lance, drain, and repair an infected, plugged milk duct. So, this could be just old scar tissue or left-over inflammation from that long-ago trauma to the milk factory. It's probably nothing to worry about. Although, I have to admit, I'm really not excited about having a big ol' needle stuck in my breast. I've never had a fear of needles, but I might be developing one very soon.

So, for those of you who posted on Facebook, thanks for your prayers. I appreciate them very much. Hopefully this will turn out to be nothing more than an uncomfortable needle stick and an excuse to get a sympathy dinner out.


Pat Collier said...

Ouch! I say you will earn more than a dinner out! On the plus side no one on either side of our family has had cancer...only heart and diabetes. So " Hey God, my baby can not have cancer!"
Love you, Mom

Dina said...

darn 11. Look at all the trouble he caused. Praying for you my friend. My mom had the same thing only it was the macro kind. I'm assuming I'll have it too. Come see us, we miss you down here. :D


Shelly Conn said...

So good to see you last night at dinner!! Thank you for traveling all that way to see us to chat and eat. :)
I know that this next procedure is going to be fine and I am praying for you. Take care.

Shoshana said...

Teble, I hope this is nothing to worry about. I never even heard of that. Which rock have I been hiding from?

Sanna said...

Teble, I absolutely didn't get this. I hope it all went well and you're fine. I am pretty sure you posted on the bb or fb, but I am missing all the important stuff lately, no idea why.

Love and hugs, Sanna