The call came during an August afternoon, 11 years ago. Mommy had gone for her yearly mammogram and got called back for more film. She was not concerned. She was convinced they were just double checking. When she got off the phone with her doctor, she knew differently. The second mammogram means they saw something. She officially became one of the many women who had breast cancer.
My parents’ first decision was a hard one. Earlier in the year, they had adopted a senior Yorkie named Jordan. Jordan was blind, deaf, had no teeth, could not walk, and was incontinent. She would relieve her bowels, or bladder, where she sat, which was often on Mommy. Jordan took lots of care, with lots of cleaning, and Mommy could not take care of this pup and herself at the same time, so Jordan was surrendered back to the unhappy rescue group. For the first time, Mommy has to put her health ahead of her dogs.
I supported Mommy’s decision. Jordan was basically a furry log that pooped and peed a lot. But it was still hard for Mommy, who had the guilt from surrendering Jordan (she talked to the rescue about it being temporary, until Mommy was cured, but they passed) and she fretted about her own health. I just worried about Mommy.
She was lucky. She had two lumpectomies, and then eight weeks of radiation every day after work. Some days she would be fine, some days she would be sick, and some days she couldn’t get out of the chair. She bravely completed the treatments and was declared cancer free. Then Daddy made a horrible mistake. As a present, he gave her Pocket, the gift that keeps on barking and peeing. I guess it worked out (although the rescue, seeing a picture of us online, scolded Mommy for getting another dog. Bless the rescues, but sometimes they can be hard on people.)
Beating cancer opened another door for Mommy. While she was too tired to stand she found out from Daddy about a site called Doggyspace, she had Daddy set up an account, and 11 years later, we are famous social media dogs.
Two weeks ago, on a Wednesday, a day after getting her yearly mammogram, the radiologist called to say they needed new films. Of course, Mommy’s mind went to the worst case scenario. I, trying to comfort her, found out all I could, about second mammograms. They are very common especially for women getting their first test. Most of the new films show nothing concerning, and those that do lead to a finding of cancer less than half the time.
But, when it is your mammogram, all those statistics go away.
I went into Mommy’s dreams each night to counsel her. We decided not to scare anyone in the family needlessly, except for Daddy, who is always needlessly scared. When I wasn’t talking with Mommy, I was flying prayers up to the Big Dog Angel Board.
Last Wednesday Mommy went for her second mammogram and ultrasound. The squeezed her like an angry person stomping a bee. Then they did the ultrasound. They did not give her any results.
This I found frustrating. She wanted to know if she had cancer and there was someone who knew if she had cancer and they would not say! It is like an umpire watching a close play at the plate, signaling nothing, then going to sit in the stands to eat a hotdog.
Mommy waited all day Thursday for The Call, but it didn’t come, so she called her doctor. She talked to a PA who told her she had the results but could not give them to her until the doctor signed off. So now the entire umpire crew knew the call, but no one would share it with the runner.
Finally, Mommy got a call from the nurse who told her she had a UTI, which Mommy already knew, she had gone to the doctor two days before. Mommy asked about her mammogram results, and she could hear the PA shuffling through reports as time passed like dripping molasses.
After seconds that seemed like hours, the PA said Mommy had a benign cyst that did not have to be removed. She was fine. All her angels cheered throughout the heavens. Even though nothing untoward happened, Mommy still felt like she had survived a close call.
So, if your mommy gets called back for a second mammogram tell her it is statistically most likely nothing, and she should not worry.
Then take her hand in your paw because she is going to worry.