Monday, October 24, 2011

Blown off?

This isn't really a post about melanoma, but maybe it is..  I'm experiencing a roller coaster of emotions right now. They range from confusion, anger, rejection, relief..  I don't know.  Hopefully this post will make sense, normally I would wait and calm myself first, it will all probably make perfect sense by then, right? I'm being an impatient brat instead, so please bear with me.  I know once I share and get it out of my system, I will feel a lot better.

About 2 years ago, I started experiencing some pain in my breast.  Having just lost someone very close to breast cancer, I was very aware, and got in for a breast ultrasound right away.  It came back clear, so my concern just fizzled away, especially after my melanoma diagnosis 6 months later.  Well, the pain never went away, and in the past month, a new pain has developed further up and into my armpit.  I went for my physical this past Thursday and mentioned it to Dr M, along with my history of melanoma and not knowing my family history.  She felt the area I pointed to, and set me up for an ultrasound and mammogram. I just got home from that appointment.

It was a breast health department, and while there was a lot of pink around, there was not as many pink ribbons.  I really expected to be surrounded by them, but it wasn't so bad at all.  There was a board that had a note that it was not managed or maintained by the center, it had a pink ribbon on diagonal corners and 3 large pink felt butterflies spread out between the two ribbons.  Each one had facts.  One had risk factors, one had facts, one had statistics.  On the facts one, the second of three facts said other than skin cancer it was the most diagnosed cancer in women in the US.  I was glad to see that small but notable nod to skin cancer being more prevalent for women.

So after the mammogram, which I have to say I was dreading the pain and it wasn't so bad at all.  It was uncomfortable, but seriously, these DDD's weren't screaming with pain (sorry if tmi, but I always heard that the larger or more dense, the more pain..).  It was less comfortable when they did the spot towards my armpit, but that is to be expected since the plates had to push against my bones to get there. I am sent back to the waiting room while the radiologist reads that and tells the ultrasound tech where to focus on. When I go over to the ultrasound room, and she immediately goes to the spot under my arm where it hurts.  I am now really sore due to the pressing with the device.  Thanks to many ultrasounds for ovarian cysts and three pregnancies, I know when there is a spot on the screen and that her clicking and marking is taking measurements.  They leave me in the room while the radiologist takes a look, just in case they need to do more.

A few minutes later, they come back in and say that I am all done, good news I'm okay.  What they saw on both the mammogram and the ultrasound was my lymph node. That isn't really breast tissue up there, so I'm free to go.  I ask if I should be concerned that it showed up, I don't know if it is supposed to show up or not. I don't remember a mention of them last time. They just repeat that I'm fine, my breast is fine.

Here's where I feel blown off.  Yes, my breast is fine, but my lymph node is not my breast, so they aren't concerned that it hurts and showing up.  Is it supposed to show up?  I understand the radiologist cant tell me everything, and obviously they were just concerned with the breast.  Should I be concerned?  Should I wait until Dr M gets the report and call her and remind her that even though my breast is okay, I had melanoma?   Should I call Dr K (dermatologist) and tell her what is going on, since every skin screening she feels for my lymph nodes too?  Am I overreacting?  Should I just accept that I'm okay and that this pain is normal, as I did with the breast pain 2 years ago?  I don't like that they are saying breast pain is normal, but really dont like that they are saying that pain in what I now know is my lymph node is okay..  Okay, nothing's wrong, I am relieved to hear that. The logical next question, why the pain?


  1. Just my personal opinion, but I would be all over my doctors (all of them) ...every hour for every day until they explained why a lymph node(s) showed up, especially post-melanoma diagnosis. I wouldn't rest until I was completely assured they knew exactly what was going on. Period.

    You are the patient, they are expected to treat you. I don't think you are over-reacting. You are actually dealing with it better than I would have. I would have marched right into my closest doctors office and told them I needed the next available appointment within 24 hours.

    Yes, it may be something "innocent." But I'm not willing to gamble my health on a "your breast is fine" answer. I don't think you should be either. Keep pushing until you get the reassurance you need to understand exactly what is going on and causing the pain.


  2. I completely agree with Kris. We are in an age, good or bad, that we must be our own advocate and ask questions, follow up, demand explanation and get clarity.
    Many times I have heard that "pain is good" re: my breasts. What?!?
    I would make sure that the results are forwarded asap to each and every one of your docs and follow up with a call to confirm that they not only got them but read the results.
    There is no need to go overboard with a million preventative treatments but then again, there is no need to live your life in unnecessary fear.