Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Dear friends,

It was a rough day at the office. I work for a breast surgeon. Since it is October and breast cancer awareness month, I have a bit of advice for my readers again. I normally try to make this blog a place where you can come and hopefully be amused but today I'm tired, cranky, still not feeling great (But better thanks to all your well wishes and Goodfather, that virtual soup was awesome. But the bowl was so big it took forevvvvvvver to download) so I 'm going to get straight to the point and then I'm off to bed for some much needed rest.

We've talked about getting your annual mammogram. But to that I want to add a little tidbit:

When choosing the facility in which to have your mammogram, choose a dedicated breast center whenever possible. I realize that many people who read this blog may live in rural areas where a breast center may be many miles from where you live. Find one. Go there. It's worth the trip. It's important to have a radiologist who specializes in reading breast imaging. If you go to a dedicated breast center, the chances are that there is enough breast imaging business generated there that they will have a radiologist who reads breast images exclusively.

Recent real-life scenario:
  • Mammogram and breast ultrasound both negative.
  • Breast MRI is recommended.
  • Breast MRI is read as negative.
  • Surgeon thinks she sees something on film and asks for MRI to be re-read by radiologist who specializes in breast imaging.
  • I take call today from breast radiologist saying that abnormality was there. A breast MRI guided biopsy was performed and the pathology shows the patient has breast cancer.
  • Patient was called in immediately and since you can't leave a hysterical woman crying in your waiting room (or shouldn't) with other patients, she was brought to me so that I could comfort, hug, hold and reassure her while the doctor finished with another patient. Her cancer is in the very early stages and by all accounts she should be fine. That doesn't mean much to the patient when she or he first hears those words though.
That's it. I'm sorry if you were looking to be entertained here today and I've brought you down instead. It's important. I had to say it. I feel better that you know.

Note: I don't mean to imply that there aren't many qualified radiologists who read all types of films and accurately read breast images as well. I've just seen things missed and feel the odds are more in your favor at a dedicated breast facility.

Take care,
Smart Mouth Broad


Pseudo said...

That woman was so fortunate to have you there to comfort her. I think the work you do is amazing SMB and this post carries an important message.

I discovered my lump myself five months after my mammogram and seven months before the next one is scheduled. I'm going to see if there is an imaging place that specializes in breast imaging.

Glad to hear you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Great, great post. My sister and mother are both breast cancer survivors, so this month is especially important to our whole family.

You are awesome in your office!

You're welcome for the soup ;).

Anonymous said...

Thanks SMB. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to know that there are actually health care professionals out there who DO ACTUALLY CARE.

Lori said...

That woman was very blessed to have you there to comfort her. What a great job you do. I have a feeling that everything you do is with a touch of your specialness.
Thanks for passing on your knowledge in this area.

Hope your feeling much better soon!

Anonymous said...

I've had my story written but never felt it was the time to post, but now might be a good time to do so. The patient was lucky to be comforted by you and thanks for this very necessary PSA.

People always ask me why I drive over a hundred miles to get my mammogram and ultrasound and you've just nailed the reason right on the head. (((HUGS)))

Bear Naked said...

Your post today is much more important than any humourous post could be.
Thank you for this.

Bear((( )))

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm no hero, believe me. I just like to treat people how I would like to be treated. My family was very blessed with wonderful care-givers when my mom was sick and I just feel that this is in some small way paying it forward. Many times, my desk is piled with work, I'm deep in thought about the tasks at hand and get annoyed when I'm told that the doctor is sending someone back to me. But all it takes is one look at that face filled with fear and devastation and my heart melts. You would do the same. Anyone would.

Anonymous said...

i think if people are only looking for amusemant, they watch i love lucy reruns...here in the blogosphere we want to hear it all...the good, the bad and the ugly...there is no laugh track in real life, so let's not pretend it here. I love and appreciate each and every post by everyone regardless of the subject matter. Learning something, indirectly or directly (like from this one)is just the gravy. Feel better soon!

Bookworm said...

I can't add much more than what others have already said, except "Bravo!" Good for you for being so kind and sensitive to her distress. Hopefully it's early enough they only have to do a lumpectomy. It's the chemo that would scare the crap out of me. But I faithfully get my mammo every year, and I do have mine done at a dedicated breast cancer radiology clinic.

Thanks for the great reminder! :)

Vodka Mom said...

thanks for this. We all need to be aware, and prepared. I wish every office had someone like you.

Anonymous said...

Great advice. I live in Boston and have the benefit of lots of very good medical establishments. I am adding you to my blogroll. Wanna trade?

Anonymous said...

Well, you know I give you props for working where you work and doing what you do....

That in itself is special to me

Anonymous said...

I came across your post -- from midlifeslices -- the same day I had a mammogram in the UK. So I wrote about the very different world here.

I am running a one woman campaign for people who have eyesight difficulty and I would like to say that the background to your blog, though pretty and interesting, makes the text hard to read, and the comment section text size is TERRIBLE. I am reading on a mac because my pc is sick, so it might be better elsewhere. Thought you might like to know how HARD it is to read.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thistle, dear, why don't you tell me how you really feel. LOL

Midlife Mama-Ah, I see you are up on your breast health. This particular patient's condition only requires the lumpectomy. The rest of her treatment will be determined by her final pathology but she will most likely not need chemo or radiation.

VodkaMom-Healthcare workers are like everyone else, pretty much. Overworked and underpaid. Their stress is too often shown to the patients. I am fortunate to be in a unique and environment where I get to make most of the rules. My number one rule is "you gotta be nice" no excuses. And believe me, it ain't always easy.

Rhea-Thanks for visiting. I checked out your site. Deal.

Slick-And that is our bond. :-) Glad you're back, dear. I would so miss your crankiness if you left for good.

Duchess- Welcome. I'm not sure what I can do about comments but I will check into it. I know what you mean about the current post (if that is the only one you read) I normally go to great lengths, editing myself to death to get the font size and look just so but I was feeling like crap and just didn't have the energy for this post. I appreciate your input. Check out some of my other posts and let me know if you feel the same about them.

Tricia said...

It sounds like an incredibly tough day and you must be a special person to do what you do. Helping patients deal with life-changing news like cancer must be trying, and I think it takes a very big heart and shoulder.

Thanks for this post. I'd never have given a second thought to making sure I finding a dedicated breast center or a radiologist who reads breast images exclusively. This is incredibly valuable information!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Tricia-Thanks. I'm glad to be of help. Your comments and the others make me feel this post might do some good. I try to keep my work and blog life separate but I couldn't be quiet about this.