My Own Scanxiety

Due to testing positive for the BRCA II gene mutation, my genetics and prevention oncologist at Dana Farber, Dr. S, recommended that at age 25 I get a breast MRI as a baseline scan so it is in my records. So, at the end of January I went in for an MRI. I wasn’t a fan of the contrast, but I was actually fine in the machine.

I then went up to see Dr. S and she pulled up the MRI results; there were two visible masses in my left breast. She assured me that it was likely nothing and moving in the MRI machine could cause the image looking the way it did. As a result of the positive BRCA mutation she recommended I return for an ultrasound.

The following week I returned for my breast ultrasound. It took place in the area where mammograms are done. I could hear my mom yelling at nearly every women sitting in the waiting room. The one complaining how much it hurt while she iced herself. Another was pacing up and down saying how not fun it was. I was mad. I saw mothers there with daughters, complaining about mammograms while I lost my mom to breast cancer. PSA: get your mammogram!

While getting the ultrasound, I could see the screen and at first there was nothing abnormal, but then, there it was. A black mass. My heart sank. This was supposed to just be a baseline MRI and a quick check ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. There wasn’t supposed to be this thing on the screen. The radiologist took photos of the one mass and could not locate the other one. She took a few notes and I asked her how large the mass was, about one centimeter.

I needed a core needle biopsy. Before scheduling it, I went back into the waiting room to call my dad and see if he wanted to come in for the biopsy. I explained what had just taken place during the ultrasound- the mass, the need for a biopsy- and I saw all those women who minutes before were complaining, stare and shut up. Guess they didn’t expect the 25 year old to be in there for something serious, huh?

I scheduled my biopsy for two and a half weeks later, end of February. All I could think about was my mom saying to her doctor when she got her biopsy results, “but we didn’t think it would be anything.”

But, Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), mine wasn’t anything. It was a benign tumor, a fibroadenoma, common in young woman. The biopsy itself wasn’t fun- the numbing part stung and hurt, then the needle was big and made an awful noise, and I was left with an ugly bruise, a lot of soreness, and a whopping few hundred dollars bill (even with great insurance!).

I go back in for another MRI in six months and I am still happy with my decision to get tested for the BRCA mutation. My doctor is watching me closely and if anything ever is abnormal, I’m in the best hands possible. If you have a history of cancer in your family I really recommend you to speak to a genetic counselor about genetic testing! (Especially those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent where 1 in 40 women have a BRCA mutation.)

I know my scanxiety is nothing compared to what my mom’s was, but I got a glimpse of fearing what those results would show. I kept hearing my mom in my head: I have no control over it, so I can’t worry about it.

7 thoughts on “My Own Scanxiety

  1. Thanks for sharing.
    I have a 25 yr old daughter and cannot imagine the fear she we endure having a scan and going thru what you did. I’m glad you had your Dad for some support.
    I do have to say it put a smile on my face seeing the blog pop up in my email. I so enjoyed reading your moms words as my sister too was on a similar journey.
    Take care😀

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  2. Michaela, We are relieved to hear that you are okay. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need moral support for a test. Love, Susan and Uncle David

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  3. I’m glad you are ok and have a great Dr who ordered the right testing., who will follow you closely. Along with mammograms you also need Pap smears as uterine cancer is also connected to the breast Ca gene. It’s scary at any age but at 25 years old it has to be Extremely scary especially with your mom and what she endured. May she Rest In Peace.

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    • I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Having been through it myself, I know what its like.. I ended up having a mastectomy, but feel so tremendously lucky that I’m still alive. You’re extremely brave, and though I didn’t know your mother I miss her contributions in her blog. Good luck to you.

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