This follows on from “is Google a good thing” and is an account of the diagnosis. Good Halloween reading ;)
Friday 2 October
The drive from the airport took for ever. We got stuck in traffic and half of me wanted to stay stuck, the other half just wanted to get on with the inevitable and find out what was going on.
Eventually we arrived at a hospital more resembling a hotel than a hospital and our liaison person appeared magically and guided me gently and with great care and professionalism through the next hours. I knew that the investigations would involve mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy and review by the specialist.
As we were late I headed straight into the imaging department and changed ready for the first tests – the mammogram. Well they took a lot of pictures from all angles and I felt as if I was doing some Bollywood poses at times. More than anything, my mind was in overdrive and I was trying to pick up clues (and hope) from anything – a gesture, smile, question, gown colour, auspicious room number….. I picked up the word calcification and immediately latched hope onto that. It sounded logical – and not harmful to my lay mind so my heart lurched a bit with optimism.
Next was ultrasound. Again the investigation was very thorough. This time though I could see the screen and all sorts of weird ghostly shapes as the doctor methodically worked her way through the process. Again, I tried to pick up clues and hints and soon got a big one “left side – problem”, I was told. Hmmm. The chittering started again, perhaps helped by the Air Conditioning and the cold ultrasound gel. “You need biopsy”. Oh dear – more chitter chitter! The technician was lovely – calm, professional but clear. I said I was worried and she told me not to worry (lurch of hope) – my Doctor is a great specialist and I am in the best of hands. She then started pegging the dimensions of what she was seeing in the scan. I had to watch, but kept looking away as she pegged a strange shape and clicked to save it. Then my stomach turned as she keyed in – m-a-s-s-. That is a clue, and not a good one. She didn’t stop there – mass.. n-o- 1. I closed my eyes and swallowed. There is more than one lump.
I think it was around then that the specialist himself appeared, his Bluetooth flashing in his ear, and he joined the party. Or maybe it was a training workshop because he had a magic marker in his hand and methodically they started to draw on my chest. I started chittering again – actually I am not convinced I had stopped. They reassured me that they were not going to hurt me – just draw on me! These were the markings for the biopsy. Another worry lurch when I was asked if I had eaten – surely they are not going to operate tonight?
Eventually the drawing was complete, the ultrasound images all recorded and I knew that the time was coming for biopsy and diagnosis.
I headed back to the waiting area and had almost sat down, when I was ushered into auspicious Room no 59. I am so glad that I have such trust and faith in my doctor – he even trained in Scotland so there has to be another auspicious sign there. He examined me again, all the while the biopsy instruments glinting at me wickedly. I knew this one was going to be painful as well as scary. Then we sat down, and he started to go through the findings of the mammogram and ultrasound. He talked about the calcification a bit, highlighted aspects from the mammogram, but focused more on a picture of a spaceship like image from the ultrasound. He showed me that the spaceship mass was irregular in shape, and growing in different directions. Although I had been straining for hints, I didn’t pick up this one.
Gently, irrevocably, he told me “this is highly suspicious of cancer”.