Several of my friends in the blogosphere have blogged about Breast Cancer Awareness month. It occurred to me after reading this and this and this and this that I might have something to add to this topic. I usually try to keep my job separate from my blogging world…..But…..By day I am the office manager of a breast surgery practice. Before you get all excited, Slick, it is not a plastic surgery practice. We treat breast cancer and other diseases of the breast. As you can probably imagine, I am very aware of breast cancer as I encounter women and men daily who are diagnosed with this terrible disease. I would be remiss if I didn't join ranks with the others to encourage you to have your annual mammogram and I most certainly urge you to do so. But heres a few other random little bits of advice that I would like to offer:
- Once you've had the recommended mammogram, follow up if you haven't heard back from the ordering physician in a week. NEVER assume that no news is good news. While 99 % of the time, any abnormality will be brought to your attention, you cannot disregard the possibilities of a glitch with the fax machine, email or other mode of communication between the diagnostic facility and the referring physician. You also can never assume that all healthcare workers are conscientious and or competent. Be pro-active. If you haven't received word of your results within a week, call and ask about them.
- Not all abnormalities are cancer. And not all abnormalities are an emergency. I know, I know….when it's your breast, it's an emergency. Between 30-40% of all women have fibrocystic breast disease. This accounts for the majority of call-backs for additional imaging. It is sometimes painful but almost always benign.
- If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, please take a family member or friend with you to your doctor appointments. After hearing the words, "you have cancer" most people only hear, "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah" after that. You will need someone with you that will remember what you're supposed to do next.
- Write down your questions as you think of them and take the list with you to your appointment. Once in the examination room, you will no doubt forget what you wanted to ask without the list to remind you.
- If you're recommended for a biopsy, whenever possible, ask the referring doctor's office to make your appointment with the surgeon. They will be much more effective in getting you an appointment that is in line with the urgency of your case.
- If your doctor calls you in earlier than your original appointment, do NOT put them off because you have to meet the cable guy, take your horse to the dentist, attend a luncheon with the girls or you have to work. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, this is just the first of many appointments you will have to make. You, your cable guy, your horse, the dentist, your friends and your employer will all just have to get used to it. (These are just some of the real life excuses we have been told when trying to work a patient in earlier after receiving suspicious diagnostic reports.)
- Never be afraid to get a second opinion. It's never a bad idea and any physician worth their salt should not be offended by your desire to have one.
- There is no excuse for a healthcare worker to be rude or insensitive to you. Most offices are under-staffed and over-worked but that is no excuse. You are the reason they have a job. I tell people when I interview for a position (which thankfully hasn't happened in awhile) that the job requires them to always be courteous, respectful and pleasant regardless of how the patient is behaving. (with the exception of abusive behavior) Our patients are at the worst time in their life and if they are a little cranky, they're entitled to it. (cookies make up very nicely for bad behavior)
- Never hesitate to give expensive gifts to the office manager. If expensive gifts are not in your budget, flattery will do wonders also. This is a person who can write off your bill. *wink*
I could probably come up with more but it's past my bedtime and I really NEED my beauty sleep. So make your mammogram appointment immediately. Do not stop, do not pass GO, just do it. RIGHT NOW! You heard me. What are you waiting for?
I neglected to mention when I posted this that I know a little bit about the other side of the desk also. A few years back abnormalities were found in my mammogram. I had five different areas in both breasts biopsied. Thankfully, all were benign.
If you landed here as a result of a link from Bear Naked (Don't you just love the Bear), I hope you find this post worthy of her praise. And don't forget: Get your mammogram!