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What to Think When You Get a Call Back From a Mammogram

Updated on December 14, 2017
Nell Rose profile image

Nell is a trained Psychologist and lives in London England. She has been writing since she was a child.

Cancer screening mammogram
Cancer screening mammogram

The first letter.

So you get that piece of paper through the post explaining that its your annual check up mammogram.

Oh lord. That word, Cancer pops into your head. But....

That's fine. You have had them before, no problem. But there is still that little niggle, what if? But of you trot to the clinic, go through the squash, squeeze and jiggle process.

You try to look to see what the clinician is doing, but its too far away. Anyway, you know its going to be okay, because it was before. Right?

Then they say, 'get dressed you can go, your results will be in the post in the next two weeks.'

Oh great, you think. That means two weeks of hell to the all clear.

But then.......

Panic attack
Panic attack

The second letter....then panic!

A letter pops through your letter box. Its a week later, but still....

You open it and....

Yikes! Its a call back! You get a call back for another 'follow up' mammogram!

What is this? I have never had this before, oh my God......!

Thoughts rush through your head. Panic settles in your stomach and you feel sick as a dog.

You notice that you feel a bit woozy so you sit down.

Then common sense kicks in. Don't be stupid. Plenty of people get this letter, don't they?

But that little voice does not stop. It starts telling you all sorts of insidious things. Like 'this is it, say goodbye' and 'I have too much still to do!'

Of course your brain doesn't tell you to shut the hell up and stop panicking. Or, you may get something but it can be cured.

Oh no. Too easy. Its just the dead way or the highway.

Then you start to scan the computer. Everything in Google that is possible to read about it, you read it.

And does it help? No, it just makes you feel worse.

In another world! hallucinating
In another world! hallucinating

On the Planet Org!

You can't sleep. You can't eat. And then it hits you. You look at your family and think, 'no, not yet, not yet!'

But then.....

You spot something on one of the sites. About how many women get those call back letters, and 'Did you know? The majority of women who get called back are actually fine, it was a blip, wrong photo, or something else.

And that's what you hold on to.

The one thing you do forget, is how your family is coping. They look great, getting on with their jobs, talking to you and trying to make you laugh.

But underneath they are as scared as you.

You have to carry on with your day. But all of a sudden it feels weird. The whole world feels strange.

Its rather like being dragged into another dimension, or the Planet Org, where things are slightly different, but in an odd sort of sameness. Even shopping or talking, eating or watching TV. It just seems so strange.

Then the day arrives. Finally!

Second mammogram at clinic/hospital
Second mammogram at clinic/hospital

And off we go!

There is a weird kind of relief in your stomach when you know 'this is it, either way'. You get in the car, don't hear what people are saying around you, and then there you are.

You have arrived at the hospital/clinic. After being ushered in, you take a seat among other scared looking women. And some who don't looks so frightened. Maybe they have been through it all before, and are either fine, or got so complacent they have just given in to their terror and switched off.

So what happens next?

First things first. You get taken in for another mammogram and the doctor explains what side is causing the problem. They then take a deep scan mammogram which is more powerful that the original one.

The good thing is that they explain everything as they go along. You then get asked to sit back in the waiting room for the next part of the examination.

By this time I was cacking myself. Till this point I believed, hoped, that it was just a wrong photo, or the machine hadn't worked the first time.

But that was not so.

They saw something on my right side!

Breast ultrasound scan
Breast ultrasound scan

By this time I was hyperventilating!

Next came the physical exam. Lay down, arm above my head, then to the side. Pushing, prodding, and then out came the scanning device.

Push prod, peer at the screen, then another wipe, prod and scan scan scan. They do your under arms too. As she said, 'Its standard procedure'.

By this time I was nearly in a state of despair and shock.

But then came the magic words.

'Well I don't think its anything serious!'

I felt the relief flow out of me like someone popping a huge balloon.

'What is it then? ' I turned to ask.

'Get dressed and come over and see.' Said the doc.

I quickly threw my clothes back on and scuttled over.

'See there?' she said, pointing at one set of photos.

'Yes.'

'That was three years ago, now this' she turned to the ones on the other screen.

'This is today. We have all looked at it intensely. The first mammogram, the hands on and the scan, and between all of us we agree that its a bruise inside your lower right breast.

Have you hurt yourself recently?' She turned to me.

I thought back quickly. Over the last few weeks I had been fine, but then....

'Yes! I tripped over the step and banged my breast and arm on the floor!'

She smiled.

'Well there it is. And when you come back in another 2 to 3 years, it won't be there!'

I smiled the biggest smile.

'I could kiss you!' I said to her. She laughed.

'Can I go?'

She smiled and said yes.

I leaped out of the door, and saw my sons face. So I smiled the biggest smile, did a little dance to make him laugh and gave him the thumbs up. The grin on his face said it all.

I was home free. Fingers crossed.This time, and hopefully for good.


'Something's can be as small as a pin prick!'

For anybody who has a return Mammogram letter to go to another follow up check, please try not to panic.

After researching the whole thing a million times I realised that the majority of patients who get a call back, are indeed, fine.

The nurses and doctors will have spotted something. But that something may only be a pin prick on the screen, or on your breast. They have to check its not on the outside too.

I had eczema, so there were a few dots and dashes that, when the doc saw them, she covered them with a plaster so that the other doctors would know what they were.

After the event when I had calmed down, whooped a few whoops and hugged everybody in the vicinity, I suddenly remembered one thing.

Just how caring and professional those guys were. Bless them!

Just getting on with life
Just getting on with life

In perspective..

Of course not all results for people going to these scans can be good results. Some people will be told that they have Cancer. What a nightmare.

I would just like to say, I think these women are so brave. Not just because they have the disease, but any disease that is so darn scary.

The trouble is, these days there is so much about it on tv, it can make you quake in your boots.

As someone else mentioned, 'too much info can make you feel worse!'

And its true! There are so many illnesses out there that can do as much, if not more, damage to your body. So seeing the whole thing in perspective is a good thing.

One last point........


It does do one thing though. It makes you wake up. Take stock of what you are doing and gets you moving. We get complacent in our everyday lives.

'I can't be bother too...'

'I won't go there because.......'

And so on.

Now I will do it. Everything I am about to say no to, I am going to say yes!

Well, all depending on what of course! lol!

© 2017 Nell Rose

working

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