Good News, Bad News, No News #cancerscreening #densebreasttissue

stilldenseI had my oncologist appointment yesterday, and he began by apologizing.

The good news is, I only have a 2% risk for cancer — exactly what most women have.

BUT the bad news is, it isn’t 0.

The no news is that mammograms might or might not show any cancer.

He said there are diagnostic techniques and preventive medications, but none of them justify their expense, potential side-effects, and risks, given the low cancer risk.

He said there are new diagnostic techniques being studied but not yet approved by the FDA that will almost certainly do better. So, for now, I just keep up the yearly mammograms and take Vitamin E and, when a good test or treatment comes along, he’ll see I have it.

He said most women’s breasts become less dense after menopause, with the dense tissue turning to fat. Just my luck that the only tissue in my entire body that is not turning to fat is in my breasts.

–I’m sorry, is this TMI? I’m not embarrassing you, am I? Sorry. Sorry.

ANYWAY, good news, bad news, no news. Livin’ on the edge, like a bad-ass. Yeah, that’s me, all right.

I feel very lucky, actually, that my GP and this oncologist want me to be informed and engaged in my own care, want me to know what is (or, in this case, isn’t) reasonable and practical to do, aren’t pushing diagnostics and treatments that aren’t warranted.

Meanwhile, no news is good news. Yay, me!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character is told it’s vital for her to know that there’s nothing that can or should be done — VITAL!!!



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Good News, Bad News, No News #cancerscreening #densebreasttissue

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    June 11, 2015 at 8:00am

    No news is awesome news! Having BTDT, it’s a relief to me when friends get the all-clear, and if more people were more open about such things, it’d de-mystify and de-terrify and maybe make more people get appropriate screenings, treatments, and panic less worrying about unknowns.

    How many of the guys reading this know THEY, TOO, can get breast cancer? Yay for us women – we can’t get prostate cancer. I heard about the biopsy for that, and being needlephobic, I…::bursts into a rousing chorus of ‘I enjoy being a GIIIIIRL!’:: Not that boobie biopsies are any fun, mind you.

    But seriously, even that’s better than dying of something treatable. Some of my best cheerer-uppers were guys when I was blogging about breast cancer (though none of them sent me their novels or wrote me into a whole series of stories like you did) – and in return, I reassured them that yes, they could talk about these things with wives, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, friends. It wasn’t some weird secret society of sad, but rather this THING, like so many other things, that we go through and hope to overcome and thrive after. So if some people think it’s TMI or TL;DR, they can avert their eyes and go read something else. Here’s hoping they never have reason to rethink their thoughts on the matter.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 11, 2015 at 10:00am

      Holly, you’re right on all counts, except that I didn’t get the all-clear. I got the all-dense so who-knows. lol Not no detected abnormalities but no abnormalities detectible, which is not quite the same thing. I’m okay with waiting and seeing at my age. 64 isn’t death’s doorstep these days, but it isn’t “Hey, I need those girls!” either. With mammography and clinical examinations, any growth WILL be detectable at an early enough stage to be successfully treated, and that’s good enough for me. 🙂

      I think on Tuesday I’ll post an abstract of the article my oncologist gave me to read; it outlines the pros and cons of various screening procedures. And sure men can get breast cancer. Doesn’t seem fair, but there it is. Breast cancer doesn’t care what gender you were assigned at birth or what gender you present, everybody has breast tissue and everybody’s breast tissue is vulnerable to cancer.

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  2. Jane

    June 11, 2015 at 8:31am

    Nothing is like that “You’ve got cancer” rush. It’s like walking into the beer freezer at the bar, just a huge overall, rushing cold wave, alllll over.

    On the other hand, I definitely lucked out. It was verrry tiny, confined, and now GONE! 7 1/2 years gone. Not to seem chipper or anything, but I am extremely conscious of having dodged a bullet. Only a flesh wound, friends. Of course, there was unbelieveable stress for several months, and then the measure of relief. And the lingering really weird sensory wiring left over from the surgery, where I can touch one spot on the front of my shoulder and feel it along the back of my upper arm. Yeah, there’s nothing odd about that.

    Congrats on your worked-up-for-nothing experience, Marian. Google the vitamin E before you decide whether or not you actually want to take it. 😉

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 11, 2015 at 10:11am

      Jane, I dodged a bullet when you did, my friend! I remember when my doctor, back when I lived in Louisville, before we reconnected, told me I had a pre-cancerous spot on another lady bit. Your description of getting the diagnosis was right-on! A few weeks of stress and dark humor, a few minutes of cryosurgery, and bing-bang-boom GONE, never to return!

      Off to Duck-Duck-Go the Vitamin E.

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  3. Jessica Nunemaker

    June 11, 2015 at 4:17pm

    Cancers, in general, seem to run in my family. The way it seems to go is that the women are dead by forty from cancer or they live forever. Since 40 is getting closer than I’d like, I’m hoping that’s a good sign that I’ll be among the long-lifers!

    Also, lady bits? Whaaat! I have to worry about THAT too?!!?

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 11, 2015 at 5:54pm

      I’m sorry to hear about the cancers, Jessica, but happy to hear about the longevity. I’m sending rays of power to you for you to be a long-lifer!

      Yes, lady bits. You know, the inside ones. You do get the inside lady bits checked annually, don’t you? I hope so!

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  4. Breast Cancer Effects

    June 18, 2015 at 1:58pm

    Glad to hear your good news. Talking about “Mammogram every year”, some researches indicate the practice can increase development of breast cancer. I cannot post links here; I would advise you do some more research on it.

    You’re also talking about vitamin E as prevention… Mushroom, Fresh Watercress juice (need a power juicer), and Nuts are great foods for women who want to fight breast cancer or prevent it at the first place. You can talk to your health care provider and add them in your diet.

    Love and Health!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 18, 2015 at 2:08pm

      Thanks for the input! Yes, I posted this a week later, expanding the oncologist’s advice in my particular case. I’m between a ray and a dense place. heh

      Thank you VERY much for the recommendations on good foods for getting Vitamin E the best way — naturally. The only supplement I take is calcium+D, and I don’t relish adding more. I’d rather get all my nutrients through healthy eating. 🙂

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      • Cancereffects

        June 18, 2015 at 2:25pm

        Thank you for approving my comment, but why you have deactivated my username (removing the hyperlink)?

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
        • Author

          Marian Allen

          June 18, 2015 at 3:52pm

          I haven’t deliberately. My spam filter does it for anyone not using a root domain.

          Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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