Wednesday, I went to see my oncologist and surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I see her every six months alternating between an MRI and mammogram. This time it was the mammogram.
Ladies, you know the drill. You get undressed and slip into a beautiful and drafty hospital gown. Thank God I did not get “grandma Candida” boobs or for sure that gown would not close. These bad boys fit comfortably inside although I usually bring a pashmina to wrap myself in some soft comfort.
They called my name and lovely woman came to get me. A little small talk, gentle manhandling, a squeeze or two and I am done….not quite. “The radiologist needs to review the images” and THAT is when the worry starts. Now you wait and that 5-15 minutes feels like forever. Soon the door opens and she tells me I am good to go and walk back to the waiting area until my appointment with the doctor.
As I enter this small little area, I see two women waiting. One is fully dressed and the other is in the same ensemble I am in. I sit next to one and across from the other. It is tense so I start talking, pretty much about nothing and I ask her how she is doing. She tells me she is there because her fist mammogram may have found something and they wanted to double check.
I said, “Welcome to the Second Look Club.” She looked perplexed.
This woman was nervous and instead of comfort there was fear. I see it and I have felt it too. Her friend and I began talking about puppies, and cooking and anything we could to keep her mind moving and not focusing on that second look. They called her name and she went. I felt so bad, she was near tears. Her husband was in a terrible car accident and spent 9 months in this very hospital. She has four children and is the sole financial support of the family. That was weighing heavy on her mind.
About 30 minutes later she came back with a huge smile on her face. I know that look too. She was fine and they now have a good baseline from which to compare future images. She dressed and returned a little bit lighter and a little bit relieved. But she had the same feeling, I could tell, that I get after that second look: I hope they are sure. Did they read it right? Did they need more images? Am I really OK?
She and her friend hugged me so hard and we said goodbye. Another member of the Second Look Club is on her way. I hope she passes on the lesson and experience that she had that day, just like I have.
Women, we are strong. We are stronger together than alone and best when we both lean on and support each other. But this is one club I will not be sad to leave.