I had some unexpected news last month as I was checking off all my health appointments for the new year, starting with an annual mammogram. Like many women, I have dense breast tissue coupled with the fact that my Mama Joy had carcinoma in situ + a lumpectomy performed on both of her breasts (20 years apart) My Aunt also recently had the same.
Since there is a family history, my doctor, the lovely Dr. Harriet wanted me to have a follow up Breast MRI after my Mammogram + an Ultrasound. There was nothing suspicious on either, but just to be on the safe side + because of the family history, I was qualified to have an MRI.
I had a Breast MRI performed on January 20th which revealed an abnormality that required a biopsy. I read my MRI report....
The word ABNORMALITY became 3D, hovering off the paper, getting larger + larger as it moved closer toward my eyeline.
The only way that you can be sure that the abnormality is benign (not cancer) is to sample or surgically remove the area of concern + have it reviewed for pathological analysis.
My incredible breast surgeon, Dr. Harriet called me and presented me with the option to either do another MRI in six months or go ahead + have a needle biopsy performed. I immediately said, "let's do the needle biopsy." I surprised myself with how quickly I answered Dr. Harriet, but honestly it wasn't even a struggle...Why would anyone wait?
Let's get this sh*t done! After I agreed, I hung up the phone + then tried to "panic process" what just happened.
My Mama Joy was able to put me at ease. She had a needle biopsy twice + she told me that I won't feel anything since they numb the breast. I knew, if she could do it, then I certainly could do it too. What also helped me tremendously was that I refrained from googling + looking anything up online about the procedure which is SO unlike me. I usually research the sh*t out of anything + everything thanks to my clinical OCD but not this time!
This past Monday, February 6th, I had a MRI Breast Needle Biopsy on my right breast. Since I had not slept a wink...I already had a lovely pounding migraine the morning of the procedure. My head hurt so much, that the migraine more or less kept my mind numb of any intrusive thoughts. I was on autopilot at that point putting one foot in front of the other.
We got to the hospital, checked in...insurance, paperwork, yadda yadda...all the things...I finally found myself face down on the padded scanning table where my lovely nurses, Jenny + Josephine helped me get in the proper position so that my breast fit into a hollow depression in the table. In a few moments a very large needle would be inserted into my breast. Your breast is mildly compressed. This test also requires intravenous contrast administration (contrast material given through your vein).
Nurse Jenny asked me what music I would like played during the procedure. Instead of tropical or relaxing zen music, I said, "How about some dance or pop music?!"
The thoughts that went through my mind at this point consisted of....
"Why does this MRI machine have to beep so f*cking loud?! It's drowning out Britney Spears who is actually calming me down right now!!!"
"Who designed this machine?"
"Isn't there an engineer that can make these machines not be so triggering with all these beeping + alarm sounds?!?"
"You got this, Nicole! Just stay still. It will be over soon. Shake it off..."
And just like that, Taylor Swift began singing "Shake It Off" faintly into my ear. As I sang along, I felt more at ease...apologies to everyone in radiology for my vocal rendition.
Having the radiologist play music is the only saving grace during an MRI, but the machines are so loud making these jarring alarm sounds that would make my body jump at the sound of them going off and on the whole time. Now add the pressure of being told, "DO NOT MOVE, NICOLE...NOT EVEN A MILLIMETER or we will unfortunately have to start all over again."
The MRI machine provides images that help determine the exact location for the biopsy. Following the administration of local anesthesia, a small incision less than 1/4-inch long (about 5 millimeters) is made to allow the core needle to be inserted. Several samples of tissue are taken + sent to a lab for analysis. Sampling takes a few minutes.
I tried to relax + honestly at this point, I was so exhausted from not sleeping that I tried to take somewhat of a nap. Once Dr. Harriet numbed my breast, I hardly felt anything after that. I actually said out loud,
"Wait. What? It's done?! You did it?! I was so scared this was going to be so painful but my migraine hurt more than the needle!!"