Updated: Apr 3
If there's one thing that gets me so anxious in the medical world, it's the waiting for the test results to know what the real score is about your health. In that timeframe, no choice but to do what you can to stay sane. Distract yourself so you don't overthink and go crazy! Easier said than done because as humans, we just wanna "figure everything out" right here, right now!
As I waited one week for the other appointment in the breast clinic referred by the reproductive health center I went to mentioned in the previous blog, I was still confident that my lump was totally harmless. That the worst case scenario would be to do a minor surgery and have it taken out. Done! Easy peesy.
"I can do that! I'm badass!!! I have high tolerance for pain! A tiny cut in the boob would be nothing!" I held on to this idea with so much conviction and breezed through the week until the breast clinic appointment arrived.
Again, I did the standard operating procedure... filled out a form, got called by the nurse to check my stats, went to the private room, changed into the blue gown, then the breast specialist called Deana came in and asked me questions about my health then did the physical breast exams.
"This lump is worth exploring further, Jaymee. I'll have to request for you to do a mammogram and an ultrasound. Call this number and set an appointment ASAP," she said as she handed me the papers.
"Wow. Ok... wait a minute. So... from there we'll find out that it's not cancer right?," I asked feeling a bit annoyed. More tests meaning more waiting?! Seriously?!
"Well it depends. If results come out suspicious, we'll take it one step further which is the last one... the biopsy test. Don't go that far for now and just do the mammogram and ultrasound then we'll take it from there."
So I followed her order of scheduling the mammogram and ultrasound which meant another week of more freakin' waiting. My conviction that my lump is "nothing" is slowly getting shaky. I just found ways to counter-attack the paranoia by keeping my focus on my job and being socially active. No point in thinking about it so I'd rather divert my thoughts.
"Happy thoughts. God is great. Life is good. I am blessed. La la la la la..."
On the day of my mammogram and ultrasound, I was hit with a pang of self-pity. A woman normally starts the yearly mammogram for the breast at age 40 and ultrasound is associated with pregnancy. And I am neither of the two! Not yet 40 and no plans of pregnancy and yet there I was... 37 with a bump in the boob. Not a baby in the belly.
Having been to 2 clinics made the mammogram and ultrasound testing less stressful. I was kinda' getting a hang of being in and out of clinics and being told to wait for results. So when the technicians told me it'll take a few days, I wasn't surprised anymore. I learned how to deal with the waiting game by just giving my full attention to my job, social life and happy distractions.
"We have the result," Deana told me over the phone after a few days. "Your breast tissue came out dense so I'll have to ask you to do the biopsy. After that, we will know for sure if it's malignant or benign."
For those who aren't familiar, a biopsy is a test that involves being poked by a needle to get a tissue sample in the suspicious lump. Then it will be studied and tested to determine if it's cancerous or not. A part of me felt relieved that I was ordered to do it so I know for sure what exactly my tumor is about. But I was partially starting to be eaten up by worry and fear.
My main concern was financial as I was paying out of pocket for all these consultations and tests. And American healthcare is RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. How many more clinical visits do I have to make?! What about my expenses since I don't have health insurance from my employer yet and I'm only earning average as a hotel concierge?
I voiced this out to Deana and as a resolution, she turned me over to a women's clinic that caters to low income working class in San Diego. So once I get my biopsy results, it will no longer be with her but instead, in this new clinic which is my third. Yup. THIRD CLINIC PEOPLE!!! I was relieved though that my medical bills will be reduced from thereon.
At this point, I was still somewhat convinced that there's an end to all these tests and the result would be BENIGN. That this is the American way of being accurate since there's lots of suing involved in the Western medical malpractice. I'm still kinda' certain that they're only making sure.
I was told to bring someone as I did my biopsy for extra support so I asked a work associate to accompany me that day which was a week after my phone conversation with Deana. The big needle poke in the boob didn't bother me that much since there is anesthesia and the staff is trained to make you feel at ease during the process. But the nagging desire to know the verdict was getting more intense and it'll take almost another week for the biopsy result to come out.
Is my lump cancerous or what?! Can we just speed everything up and get this over with?! I was getting really pissed off with this whole process. Why does it have to take this long to know?! My work associate felt my anxiety after the test and took me for walk, bought me dinner and kept assuring me with words that I wanted to hear.
"It's nothing, Jaymee. I'm sure. YOU ARE OKAY. I promise. Now go home and get some rest and when the results come out which I'm sure is benign, we will party hard and celebrate! Okay?" she kept drilling in my head.
I went home still feeling somewhat agitated as I nursed my poked left boob with an icepack thinking, "Hang in there... this is the final test... BENIGN is the word we will hear in a few days. Worst case is they will just take out the lump and that's it! Benign, benign, benign... God let it be benign..."
I kept chanting those words in my head until I fell into a shallow sleep. And as the waiting game continued some more, my sanity started to slowly fall apart.
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