It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let's Make a Deal...

Behind Door Number 1:
A Mammogram!
The basic stand and squish mammogram is usually completely covered by insurance, with no out of pocket expense. It lasts only about 10 minutes, and will detect about 85% of all breast cancers. If you have lobular breast cancer, forget it, because it probably won't show up on a mammogram.

Behind Door Number 2:
The lay and hang MRI may not be completely covered by insurance, so there might be some out of pocket expense. It lasts about 22 minutes, and you must be injected with a dye solution. It will detect 100% of all breast cancers. You got cancer? MRI will show it.

Behind Door Number 3:
Do you put off your exam, thinking, "No one has breast cancer in my family?" Do you say to yourself, "I can wait one more year." Do you want no out of pocket expenses? This is the door for you?

So what will it be?
Pick door number 2! Pick door number 2! Pick door number 2!

I would rather pay some out of pocket expense and spend and extra 20-30 minutes for an appointment to know with 100% accuracy whether or not I have breast cancer, than to be completely covered by insurance and get a report that is almost sure that breast cancer is not present.

I am still trying to understand why women get mammograms instead of MRIs. Even though my cancer is 3.2cm, about the size of a golf ball, it barely showed up on the mammogram in February. And, the three satellite cancers spots on the left, and the pre-cancer spot on the right did not show up at all on the mammogram. These four spots were detected on a MRI. I wonder if the large cancer tumor was a tiny spec 3 1/2 years ago when I had a mammogram, but was undetected.

I have some theories why we are still subjected to the squishing of the mammogram, vs the lay and hang of the MRI.

1. Insurance - oh, how I detest insurance companies - MRI is more expensive than a mammogram. Don't know why - maybe because the machine is gynormous and more expensive. It also takes about 15 minutes longer.

2. The MRI shows every little detail. If a tiny spec shows up, the radiologist must report it, and then someone must follow up on it. This could lead to a lot more biopsies. As one doctor said, you can have "too much information." What? Maybe too much ice cream, too much sunning, too much work, but never too much information when it comes to your health. Wait, scratch that, never too much ice cream.

3. Not enough MRI machines available, even though the MRI Breast Center at Bev Hospital in Danvers is closed on Fridays because they don't have enough business.

4. Doctors continue to recommend mammograms because that is the way it has always been done. Maybe they are not aware of the difference in detection.

I have learned that you must advocate for yourself! The doctors will not do this for you! I insisted that the right side lesion (detected on the MRI) be biopsied, even though I was told by both my surgeon and radiologist that it was "nothing" and a biopsy was "unnecessary." Guess what? It isn't nothing - it is pre-cancer! Because of this extra information, I am looking at a double mastectomy instead of single.

So ladies...make that appointment for Door Number 1 or Door Number 2!

Whacky thought of the day...
Have you ever tried cleaning the house while listening to opera music? Andrea Bocelli helped me clean that house and I found it quite pleasant and motivating.


  1. Keval,
    Is there a health risk to MRI's? You mentioned, many posts ago, about the health risks of some of the "animal" scans you had, you know the pets and cats.
    Thanks for educating us along your way,

  2. Thanks Keval, cancelled my photo op twice because of the weather, if there is a shadow of a doubt I'll be asking for door number 2

  3. ...Thanks for educating me and scolding me for canceling my last mammogram...always seems to be something else more pressing to deal with...Speaking of pressing, thanks for the heads up on the MRI...I've always hated getting squished between the two paddles. What does it take to get and MRI...a bad mamo?