Saturday, June 6, 2009

Needle Core Biopsy

I listed those three words as my least favorite a few days ago on Facebook, still cavalier, still in denial. The least I had to worry about was a needle. Here I'd always thought of myself as a keen observer of the world around me and the people I know. But I'm myopic to what's going on at close range. It isn't until I get some time and distance before I realize what I said, or was said to me or the true meaning of the looks on people's faces.

The intake nurse and ultrasound technician started off a little brusque. Not mean, but clinical, you know, professional. When the tech brought up the lump on the monitor and the radiologist took the first core, everything changed. The three women in the room became like family, their voices softened and they asked a thousand questions about my dogs, which I gladly answered. The intake nurse handled my dressing with compassion and some kidding around. Both she and the tech ushered me out the doors and into the lobby, bantering back and forth like we were all old friends.

Only my partner Cheryl saw this as bad sign. She didn't mention it until yesterday, after the core tests came back.


If you have a mammogram (not really painful, just uncomfortable) that shows an abnormality, the radiologist will order an ultrasound (which is not painful at all). If the lump looks strange then, the radiologist will order the biopsy. 4 out of 5 are normal.

This very non-invasive biopsy is basically an ultrasound tech finding the lump again. Then a radiologist numbs the site with lidocane. She targets the lump on screen with the core needle and it happens fast. I jumped a little because of the pressure and the sound which makes a snap like a staple gun. The core itself resembles a half inch long strip of dental floss.

They took five from my lump. I felt no pain at all. In fact, I barely felt the original needle. I have some tenderness on that breast and a little bruising. It's easy to look in the mirror and start the pity party. What will it look like in a few months? Will I have bigger problems to worry about?

Bring on the next procedure. This is what it takes to save a life.


Jeanne said...

Those folks who do biopsies do tons of them all the time and the HUGE majority come back negative. The thing is that cancerous tissue looks different, and they can tell sometimes if there are enough cancer cells to be able to see it.

Tell your partner this:

I've been on both sides of this particular bed: the cancer patient and the support person. This journey will be much harder on you than it is on her. Try to remember that.

C.M. Harris said...

Yeah, that's what we figured too. Where I'm seeing a cloudy mass on the screen, they're seeing an uh-oh.

Unfortunately for her, Cheryl has seen the other side too. She had thyroid cancer at 21. Wish I could have been there for her like she has been for me.

Sorry you had go through it. Hope you and your 'patient' are well again.