Biopsy, a personal journey, by Barbara Edwards

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Barbara Edwards

I wasn’t afraid. Not at first. I’m really good with my imagination and I pictured myself as this blase individual, too informed to be the slight bit nervous.

I managed that until 2pm on the day of the biopsy.

As any woman will admit, breast cancer is a nightmare none of us wants to consider. No female in my family had breast cancer. I breast fed my babies. And I had no discernible lumps. I thought I was safe. I did let the doctor talk me into the mammogram since it’s been years.

I didn’t expect to need a biopsy.

So they found a cluster of calcium deposits. Calcium appears in your body normally. It can be in your veins, muscles, bones, even kidneys and doesn’t mean much. Except the tiny deposits can signal a cancer in the making. You can chose to wait and see if they change, have a biopsy or have a breast surgeon remove them immediately. I chose the biopsy.

I went in the afternoon, 2 PM to be exact and didn’t feel nervous until that time. Then I got the shakes. Lucky for me the technician sat me down to explain the procedure. Most important is to hold still she repeated several times. My brain switched gear and I asked when I should take the relaxant my doctor prescribed. I’m not a fool and I know I can get really stressed. Right now she said. It will take effect quickly and you’ll be relaxed . Whew. So I popped the tiny sucker and let myself unwind.

I had to climb on a table shaped like a shallow cup with a hole for my breast to drop through. Underneath are a mammogram machine and the biopsy machine. The table is raised so the doctor sits underneath. I had to adjust myself until my breast was in position, then maneuver the rest of my body into some kind of acceptable comfort.

I was sprawled on my stomach, my ribs on a hard surface, my left arm along my side and my right tucked near my head. My face was turned to the right.

Don’t Move!

Okay, its only a few minutes from this point. Clamp the breast so it doesn’t move. Wash it with saline and antiseptic. Take a picture to spot the deposits. Argh! Inject the lidocane to numb and epinephrine to shrink the blood vessels. Not as bad as I expected. Then another deeper shot so the biopsy needle can move without discomfort. Cut a tiny incision for the biopsy needle. By now the muscle relaxant has me fairly cheerful. I tell the doctor I write romance and we have a silly interchange about the difference between erotica, romance and porn.

The biopsy takes about a minute. Tiny plugs are removed and rushed to be viewed under a microscope. Yep, got the calcium deposit.

Now set a titanium marker in the spot so if it needed we can find the exact place. Put pressure on the hole to stop the bleeding. This takes a long time. I’m joking about having someone hold my breast. Then they apply a butterfly bandage with stuff to stop the bleeding. Then a waterproof cover, then gauze, then bind my breasts with an ace bandage to help control the swelling. I’m going to be black and blue and sore in the morning. Don’t take a shower for 24 hours.

            They’ll call me on Monday with the results.  

Am I worried? Yes and no. I still have a couple relaxants if my imagination gets me anxious. And my husband promised to hold my hand.

Visit my website at http://www.barbaraedwards.net. I’d love to hear from you. 

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Author: Barbara Edwards

Riveting Romance with an Edge

45 thoughts on “Biopsy, a personal journey, by Barbara Edwards”

  1. What an event, Barbara. I’m glad it went smoothly and hope results are good for you. I just had the same done a few weeks ago but I laid on my side watching the ultrasound screen during the process. A cleansing, local numbing and a stint to guide the needle through and pop, pop, pop, three small samples were done, titanium marker placed, the tape and I was off. No lifting weights over 5 lbs for three days, no cutting. Did they remove the full deposit? Is that why so much went into your procedure?

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  2. Barbara, I’m thinking of you and sending up prayers for you. I would be scared out of my wits, but that’s just me. Sounds like you are handling it much better than I ever could. Thanks for sharing this with us. Keep us posted, and take care of yourself.
    Much love,
    Cheryl

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  3. Barbara, since I had squamous cell cancer of the perineum, I understand what you’re going through. I had to have both chemo and radiation, yet here i still am, cancer free at 86, eleven years later. Hang in there! Jane

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  4. HI Barbara,

    I’m hoping you have a good result. I remember my thought during a similar biopsy was “what if there is a fire drill or an emergency during my procedure? Will I die pinned to this table?

    Luckily, there was no fire, no emergency, and no other cause for worry.

    Wishing you all the best.

    Maggie

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  5. My grandmother, aunt, mother and sister all were taken by breast cancer. When my wife was diagnosed with it, I was devastated. It’s been eight years since then and she is doing fine. Even if the news is bad, they have made great strides in treating it. It is not the end of the world.

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  6. I just read your account, Barbara, and I’m keeping you in my thoughts and praying like mad that the results you get are wonderful. My sister has calcifications in one breast, but the radiologist says they’re the kind that are benign. I pray you have the same results.

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  7. Barbara, I hope and pray your results are all good. My younger sister, age 42 at the time, had her first mammogram after my mother was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Calcium deposits were also discovered in my sister, but she was assured that she’d be fine and to come back in six months for a recheck. An inner voice urged her to insist on a biopsy which her insurance provider wouldn’t have covered if not for my mom. I think you know where I’m going with this. It was cancer, a bad kind, especially in a premenopausal women, but due to her insistence the tumor was caught at a minute size. She underwent a double mastectomy to reduce the risk of cancer recurring and not being detected in time. So far, so good with her.

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  8. Wonderful of you to share Barbara. Hugs and prayers from me too. My mother had breast cancer 30 some years ago. It’s scary for me to even go through a mam and await those results, but I wouldn’t miss them for the world.

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  9. I was a nurse, so I know the procedure. But, more importantly, it’s out! And your smart move to take care of it, despite the fear it must have caused, is just terrific! I hope it never returns!

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  10. Barbara, so far so good. We’ll pray the rest goes as well as the biopsy. By the way, I had a biopsy many years ago when I was thirty. Very different procedure. They put me to sleep. Thank God, it was negative.

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  11. Our health is one of things we so often forget to cherish–and protect. We get too busy living. I had no idea having a biopsy was so involved. Thanks for educating me. I’m sending prayers and good vibes your way. Hugs!

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  12. Your description took me back 11 1/2 years to my own biopsy. They had trouble positioning me and then getting the needle in to take the biopsy, so my memories of that day aren’t the best. They did find something with me, and I had to undergo a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous cells.

    It sounds like it went fairly well for you. Stay positive. Even if they find something, be encouraged. The procedures they have in place these days are very effective. Feel free to contact me, if you have questions.

    Barbara Barrett

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  13. Wow. I was glad that I was out and they did surgery then. I don’t know if I could stay still even with the meds. When they did a ductogram I ended up passing out. It was too much for me. Thanks for sharing your journey. I know it will help someone.

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      1. As a mamogram technologist and breast cancer survivor, I understand your anxiety and greatly appreciate your humor and positive outlook. I get so annoyed when some women come back 6 months or a year after a negative stereotactic biopsy and complain about having had an unnecessary procedure. One patient complained so much that I finally asked if she would have preferred it to be positive.She replied with. “Well, no, but it turned out to be nothing.”

        No. It was something there that didn’t belong in her breast and she was just lucky it wasn’t cancer. Most biopsies turn out to be benign, thank God. I pray yours will be negative too!

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