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Microcalcifications in the Breast
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Microcalcifications in the Breast


I recently took a mammogram and was told by the evaluating doctor that he "thinks I have cancer", because of a new density area with microcalcifications that are in one small area (not scattered). He recommended that I take a biopsy, which I did 5 days ago. I am waiting for the results, and having a rough time of it. I wish he had just said there was something highly suspicious there that needed to have a biopsy. I think that would have been sufficient.

I have read on the internet that microcalcifications that are clustered, can be indicative of cancer. I was wondering what the percentage of my chances are that I will get a benign report. He said it was a small spot that can't be felt by a manual examination.

Thanks,
Diane1
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Dear Diane 1:  Microcalcifications are small calcium deposits found within the breast tissue. There are different types of microcalcifications, and based on their pattern on the mammogram it gives the radiologist clues as to their cause. For instance microcalcifications that are more scattered are probably due to a benign (non-cancerous) cause, a
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I can't help you with the percentages. My doctor says he want use percentages either. I believe calcifications can also be associated with benign cyst. I would call for my results 5 days seems like a long time.
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A cluster of microcalcifications that the radilogist cannot interpret as either benign or malignant gets a BIRAD 4 rating, which means "suspicious, biopsy should be considered".  My surgeon advised me that 15% of these are found to be malignant--85% are benign. I was one of the unlucky ones, early, but wound up with a 2.4 size, making me Stage 2.  I would think you should have heard by now of your results.  Good luck!
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I believe the percentage for a BIRAD 4 is 25% to 50% may be something OTHER than benign. A biopsy of course is the only way to know for sure. The waiting isn't pleasant ..... too bad your physician gives news in such a blunt manner. Here's hoping for a negative finding in your case and that you don't have to wait much longer. If you get too anxious why not call the surgeon's office and ask?
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This was not my own physician. Both the mammogram and biopsy were done at a radiology center. The evaluating doctor was just the one there. The results were sent to the lab specified by my insurance company, and they are obviously not in a rush to get the results back to me. I didn't get a second opinion or deal with a surgeon yet because the evaluating doctor was so sure in his comments. My primary care physician just said to do the biopsy and get it over with. I don't like this waiting, and it is certainly not good for me. Once I can get past this experience, I would like to go to another place in the future to have my mammograms done, where the women are not treated as though they are on an assemply line.

Diane1
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Hang in there Diane.  A few years ago I had microcalcifications and had a long wait also.  I first went for the needle biopsy which proved negative but inconclusive because the calcifications were so deep inside my breast.  So two weeks later I had it surgically removed and then had to wait again for the biopsy results.  Thank goodness it was benign. Just keep telling yourself that 80% are benign and if there is anything it is small enough to take care of.  Best to you.  You will be in my prayers.
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I had my 3 month diagnostic mammogram yesterday. The tech showed it to the radiologist and he had them do magnifications. I had hoped for a follow-up ultrasound for my lumps but they said there's usually not enough change to warrent it until 6 months have passed. As I asked questions the techs showed me the cluster of calcs and both of them said they figured the radiologist would recommend a biopsy. Sure enough, my surgeon received the report already today; my calcifications have changed and I need the stereotactic. I'm scheduled for Oct. 26. Since it took them 11 days last time just to let me know I needed to come back for more views and this time only 1 day to notify the surgeon it makes me wonder if there is more concern, or if it's because of my letter of complaint after the last drawn out incident.

Even though I knew I'd probably be having a stereotactic this time I still had some tears to shed today. But I realize now that part of it is stress and part of it is lack of afirmation from my family and friends. A number of people knew I'd be going back for a mammogram and nobody asked me about it. (Two friends at school even knew I left early yesterday to go to my appointment.) It makes me feel like people don't become concerned until they hear it's cancer...it's not important until then, and my fears aren't valid. I guess that's why I follow this site so closely. I don't expect you gals to keep track of everyone's problems, but you are such a support. And, Ziggy, you remembered my 3 months was up and you are the only person that has EVER asked me about it. It meant a lot. Sorry this is so long, but I feel better already.
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Just wanted to follow up that I received the results of my biopsy this afternoon. The female doctor that called me said I have a "small cancer". I asked her to tell me the name of it and she said "Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma". It is 10 mil. or 1/2 inch. She told me to call my gynecologist and get the names of two breast surgeons. She told me that I should expect to have surgery (lumpectomy) followed by radiation treatments. During the biopsy, they left a marker there and they would be taking out the area around the marker.

Well, at least the tortured waiting period is over. I am still of the opinion that the first doctor that evaluated my sonogram and mammogram should have been more sparing with his words. The first shock was just devastating, and there was no need to do it that early. I will proceed with what I have to do now and hope for the best.

Thanks for all the info and words of encouragement.

Diane1
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I appreciated your comments, about no one caring.  That is mainly why I have posted here.  My network of caring individuals is small, and most just say "pray about it".  I need to talk things through.  I had my needle localization and open biopsy yesterday, and the doctor said my results will be in on Thursday or Friday.  Fortunately I have a friend that works in histology (sp?) and she will make sure it goes through as quickly as possible though she can't give me my results.  I am furious at the first doctor's "efforts" because he did not get the calcifications and had me wait for 3 months for a follow-up mamogram (mammogram) to check if they had changed or been gotten.  They weren't in the biopsy, so were they to have magically disappeared?  Anyway, I changed to another breast care center, nearly 50 miles from my home.  They were so gentle, patient, and kind. I saw the doctor for the first time on Friday, and had pre-op Monday with surgery yesterday.  It was a quick turn over, so that was in some ways scary but others reassuring. It was day surgery, I was supposed to be out of there by 6pm, that's when they close, but was so groggy I didn't leave until quarter to seven, and they just kept telling me not to worry about it, they were there for me.  Even when I get my results, I will post and talk to you all.  Having been there I know what it means, and I know what it means to need to talk with no one wanting to listen. LynneBrook
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I am glad you have your results, sorry for the diagnosis.  You  hang in there girl! We are all sending you our best wishes and yes, prayers.  I wish I could send you a hug by e-mail, please consider yourself hugged.  As my grandmother used to tell me when we lived several states apart, "put your right hand over your left shoulder.  Now put your left hand over your right shoulder and squeeze.  It doesn't feel quite the same, but you know the thought is there."  I am a grandmother now (at 50) so I will pass on some of her love to you.  LynneBrooke
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Diane1 - Sorry yours turned out to be invasive. It is almost like mine 0.09mm. Let us know how things go.

Montana Girl - unfortunately you have been waiting for this and you somehow knew you'd be having this biopsy. I have watched you struggle with your dicision to monitor yours and wait. I know you are not looking forward to the biopsy but a least you will know (again) what you are dealing with. You are much stronger than me, have more patients and apparently more nerves than I. I do hope things will come out positive for you.
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My mom which is 52 recently had to have a biopsy done on a large area of clustered microcalcifications. She had her yearly mammogram done and they called her and said she would need a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound that they found something that looked suspicious. They then told her she would need to go for a biopsy. This has all happened in a week and for a week I tried not to worry and I tried not to think of the worst. I prayed everyday that it would be benign. We just got the results today  and the biopsy turned out to be benign. She will just need to have a mammogram in 6 months they want to keep an eye on it. I had been reading these forums all week reading other peoples stories and hoping ours would be a good one and I thought to myself if it would I would share our story with everyone. For all those that can relate an anyway to this story and don't have the results of your tests just try to think positive and don't think the worst and I pray for everyone that is going through something like this that everything turns out to be ok and hopefully have a story like ours.
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Well, not to be rude, but welcome to the "Club".  Sorry you had to be inducted into this.  You'll find it consists of a LOT of strong, beaufiful and courageous women who will provide you with a lot of encouragement and support.

I can tell you what you can look forward to:  I also had IDC, mine turned out to be 2.4 cm, 1.4 on biopsy and then returning an additional 1cm on lumpectomy.  So, your actual tumor size will be determined after lumpectomy, so will your Stage, which is I, II or III, depending on size, node involvement and whether or not any cancer has metastasized.  I hope yours remains small so as to spare you chemo, although I just finished 4 rounds and for me, I guess I was one of the lucky ones, it was  uneventful.  Your surgeon will also want to do a Sentinal Node biopsy (another incision, sorry) to determine whether any Ca cells are in your nodes.  Pathology reports are difficult. You can learn lots from breastcancer.org or from the book, Breast Cancer for Dummies (really).  Depending on the results of tumor markers, you may be a candidate for Tamoxifen and Herceptin.  READ EVERYTHING YOU CAN, LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN.  Post here often too, we are all in this together.  Good luck.
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Dear Diane1, I am sorry about your results.  Please keep us posted as to what you need to do next.  You are in my prayers and thoughts.  Just take deep breaths and try to exhale.  Suzie-q
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just waiting for results of my ultrasound .. had a mammo week or so ago .. ive been looking online at calcifications.. i had peeked at the monitor when the tech was done and could see a couple of small areas where there seemed to be tiny grains of white .. i assume they are what are called clusters .. so ill wait for the Dr to call and let me know what they want to do ... my 1/2 sis and sis in law are both fighting breast cancer at the moment ... btw has anyone looked into different treatments besides the chemo and radiation ... im trying to be forewarned here lol ... i hope its all for not .. but you never know :)
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Thanks for your comments and support. I'm just glad my waiting will soon be over. And thanks those of you who come back to give us your results. It's nice to hear the ending of the story.

Summie082 - sorry to hear yours is cancer. I hope you find a surgeon and treatment you are comfortable with.
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Dear Diane. I am sorry for your recent news. I too have IDC and recently had a lumpectomy. Do you know your ER/PR and HER2NEU status? Its on the pathology report. I just wanted to say make SURE you get TWO or THREE opinions re: surgery. One of my docs wanted bilateral mastectomies due to the fact that my dense breasts cannot easily be read mammographically. I also had genetic testing which hasn't come back yet. I weighed the options of two surgeons and I chose lumpectomy because this tumor was small, and will follow with radiation and hormone therapy. Today in most cases lumpectomy+radiation=mastectomy they say. Make sure you LIKE your doctor, and that IF you can, make sure your doc is at a reputable breast cancer center, or cancer hospital. ASK "how many procedures they have done and what the risks are." Make sure they KNOW your medical hx and any other problems. I have found that keeping a 3 ring binder with all my reports, pathology, labs, etc. helps me ensure that the information in my records is CORRECT (I had an instance where they mixed me up with someone else). We all get thru this together. Its really hard. The waiting is hard. I had my mammo in July and between then and definitive diagnosis was ONE MONTH. The stereo core bx failed, so they had to do excisional in Aug and my final lumpectomy and node bx was Oct 13th-. At any rate, I wish you peace and hope that all works out well for you..

IDC left breast
ER/PR+ NER2NEU-
lumpectomy
radiation and hormone therapy to follow
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I've got egg on my face again! I'm so sorry to get your reports mixed up. I am a bit stressed due to my own upcoming biopsy (came home with the wrong groceries last night) but I need to keep better track of you gals.

Summie - I'm glad your mom got good news. Hope all goes well at the 6 month check.

Diane - So sorry to hear you have cancer. I hope you find good doctors to treat your and that you're comfortable with.
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Summie082 - glad you got great news.

darkstarlight - I think the only other treatment would be hormonal. But you can only have this if your cancer meets the criteria.
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Montana girl 06-Do you have the appointment for your biopsy? How large is the area that your doctor is targeting? Like you, I took the wait and see approach to my DCIS, no radiation or medication. And also, like you, I have not had much support from friends who seem reluctant to discuss anything with me. No one asks, not even my own sister. I know they care, but maybe it is their own fears that keep them from allowing me to talk about the ordeal. I do not have a husband and I have not wanted to "dump" on my children (who, by the way, have been the wonderful!). This forum has helped tremendously, but after some rather harsh comments from some others who post here with regards to my decision, I have been hesitant to post. I think of you often and try to send good vibrations and prayers your way. Do not second guess yourself about waiting the three months. At the time, we make what we think is the best decision for us. As always, you are in my prayers.
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Hi Ziggy, (and anyone else,) I just wanted to tell you about the live chat you can have with survivors-those waiting-and those going through everything you are on breastcancer.org.

I went there two nights ago, and people who know exactly what and how we are feeling are online with realtime chats there.  They welcome you right in, just sign up and you can chat anytime you want with people who care and understand.

Even though I have now got a B9 rating, I am still welcomed as well.  

I had a BIRAD of 4 with "suspicious for malignancy", truly thought I had C- and was going stir crazy waiting for everything.  They talk about anything and everything you might have an interest in, so please consider signing on.  I think you will be blessed.  My call name is BrookeLynne, if you ever see it there, talk to me.
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I got back from my conference early enough today to pick up my radiology report and feel muuuuuuch better now that I've read it. The nurse told me my calcs had changed. The report says "very little change." Three months ago the surgeon said if they stayed the same I might not need the biopsy, but if they changed I should definately go. So, now I'm confused. How do I interpret "very little change?" I'm going to call the office on Monday. My biopsy was scheduled for Oct. 26 but they called to change it to Nov. 1. At least I'm less stressed now.

I can understand why you've been hesitant to post. I don't think the gals with the totally rude responses knew your story and they jumped to conclusions. (There are ways to disagree without being so harsh.) It made me mad, too. From your post I'm guessing that you are still stressed about your situation. Do you have up and down days, or is it still a daily worry?

I try not to burden my kids with my health problems too much, either. When I cry my husband really listens and then is more responsive for a couple of days...and then he forgets about it again. I love him dearly, but he really doesn't understand... And I'm not going to use tears to get his sympathy.

Thanks again so much for your support.
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What is a B9 rating? I'm unfamiliar with that.
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B9 is shorthand for benign, thats all.  My prayers are with all of you, I hope each gets good news soon. LynneBrooke
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Ok, I get it... I never have been very good at those abbreviations. LOL (had to ask about that one, too!)
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Forgot to answer the part about size. I looked at the magnification and it looked oval shape, maybe 3/8 -1/2 inch wide but quite narrow. I couldn't tell how many calcifications were in it. Talking to the techs though, cancer can be found in as few as 7 calcifications but having many calcifications doesn't necessarily indicate a higher risk of cancer. It's also hard to say just how magnified the films was. Actual size could be miniscule. I keep trying to figure out if there could be any other explainable cause for my calcs. I gained several pounds before my July mammo when all the new calcs appeared. I'm 5 pounds lighter now and I had very little change in my calcs. I know I'm grasping at straws but sure wish I knew why my breasts keep developing calcifications that up to this point at least have been benign.
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Simply to Diane1, 10/16.. I'm thinking you ran into an insensitive putz.  Sorry for you for that.  What I'm reading is otherwise scary and encouraging.  My Dr., love 'im, recommended me "old vine" Zinfandel..., has set me up for #2 biopsy, but unknown to him I realize that he spent an awful lot more time on biopsy #2 discussing further treatment options w/ me than w/ biopsy #1.  I also recognize the differences in the films.  Very clear that #1 was a bunch of little slivers, disorganised, whilst #2 is a dot,  almost symmetrically surrounded by littler dots. Bigger dot almost glows like it has it's own little halo.

I'm indulging in the old vine probably to regularly, but it's nice to know I'm a wino w/ class.  It keeps the demons at bay.. husband travels too much for work and has moved me to a place where I know next to nobody.  My #2 is next Tuesday, October something.  I felt no discomfort whatsoever at #1, wish more of you said the same.  I'm also hoping I don't need to learn all the abbreviations and termonloliffogy that I've seen, but I would like to keep you posted.  No one in the family knows but Mom, and everytime I talk to her she tells me I sound healthy and fine. I just think.. why the .... shouldn't I?

Also... I did ask Dr. intoxication what if.. this cluster of calcifications had not been located in a mammogram, how long would it have been until a lump was detectable, answer being 5 to 6 years.  I have been and will continue to nag those I don't know, which is everyone, of the importance of yearly mammograms.  That answer is one of the encouraging comments he made to me.
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The biopsy thread I was posting on is closed. Not sure why, but glad I found this one was open. Tomorrow I should find out my results and I am beside myself. I, too, would be drinking, if I could. Xanax has been keeping me going. I think, Barb, on the other thread said something about picturing us holding hands and that's what has gotten me through this, too. Praying for all of us. I don't look sick either. It's like your body betrays you. I've been having good hair days too! Sounds silly, I know, but the thought of not having any is getting to me. Okay, I don't know yet, so I suppose I'm okay today. I'll be checking back to see how you all are. I care about all of you and wish you a good day and hope you find something to laugh about. God bless us all.
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I have posted comments on the mammogram section, but was reading and thought I would post here.  I am still waiting for my surgical procedure.  I go back to the surgeon on Tues afternoon and then go straight over to the plastic surgeon again.  THis waiting is just getting to me.  Also the weather has been cloudy and rainy here, which is depressing also.  Everyone I'm close to is very supportive of me and my decisions.  We decided to go with the mastectomy with reconstruction surgery the same day using the Tran Flap.  I am very nervous, but after much prayer and talking with some friends who have had the lumpectomy with radiation and then those who had the mastectomy with the reconstruction without radiation, I chose the latter.  I get really tense at times.  My co-workers have been wonderful and so supportive.  My husband and family have been very supportive.  My husband has also been very worried.  However, God is the Source of my strength.  Remember the words "WILL-POWER"  IF WE HAVE THE WILL GOD WILL SUPPLY THE POWER.  WE JUST HAVE TO LEAN ON HIM.  He never lets me down, friends and family may let us down, but He never will!  I just pray He will be with each of us and give all of us the strength we need and the peace that only He can give.  You are a wonderful group of supportive friends.  Keep praying and uplifting each other.  We will make it!
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I wish I had some words of wisdom for all of you who are waiting for biopsies, surgeries, or results but I'm out of words myself today. Just want to let you know I'm still listening and still praying for each of you.
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This is my first post in this forum... just to say that I am going through this too - bad news on my very first (was supposed to be baseline) mammo came last week. Went back for spot compression views on Monday. The verdict was, a tight cluster of 4 or 5 microcalcs in the upper outer quadrant of my right breast. Only "somewhat" suspicious, but still B-4. The somewhat part doesn't help much, of course I'm climbing the walls and oh yes, xanax is my friend now. My gyn referred me to a large cancer centre and the earliest I can get in is the 9th. I will see a NP for evaluation and then probably a biopsy. The waiting is the worst part... I need to know what this is and to get it out of my body NOW if it is C.

Oh, and the first word I had on my screening mammo was on Friday the 13th... of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Such a perfect irony.

Hugs and prayers to everyone here.
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I wanted you to know the biopsy really wasn't that bad. The whole thing is just terrifying but on a scale from 1-10, for me, the biopsy was a 3. Xanax helped. I sound like I'm pushing this stuff but it has helped me. It's all so foreign. This whole world has been opened up to me. Mine was a  b4, too. No family history. All we can do now is wait and really, I'm not very good at that. Pray for each other and share our fears. Reach out. That's what I'm trying to do. Hang in there. God bless you.
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This forum is a good place for me.  I'm determined I don't have much to worry about statistically (tough word) until I get the results.  Biopsy is tomorrow, and hubby actually came home yesteday, only to leave again this morning.  He doesn't seem to want to think about it, I'm  hoping it's cuz he feels bad about never being here.  'K, that's mean of me. Anyhow, glad I found you all to listen to and write to.
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Hello, everyone.  I am going for my mammography on November 14.  I had a baseline done approx.4 years ago.  They found microcalcifications which ended up being benign.  However, I got a form letter from the Radiology place telling me to make sure I get an appointment because I am turning 40 and am considered high risk because of past situation.  This infuriated me as to why did they tell me not to come back for 4 years?  I was very niave at that time, not realizing that it should be followed up on.  My question to you gals is this.  Do you know if there is a higher risk of getting more calcifications (either benign or malignant) once you had them?  I figured that once they were cleaned out it was over with.  Have any of you had calcifications return in your breast a year or so after having a group removed?  I am panicking already and I still have 1/2 a month to go!  Thank you for your advice.
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suzi-q
I'm going in for my 3rd biopsy of calcifications  in  6 years (my 4th breast biopsy overall.) So far they've all been benign. I know a woman who had a stereotactic for calcifications 6 years ago and has not needed another biopsy since then, so it can go either way. Calcifications can be a normal part of aging. You may hear other women say they have them and never needed them biopsied. It's only when they form clusters of certain patterns that they need to be biopsied. I have very dense tissue and many lumps in addition to the calcs so my surgeon says I'll probably be dealing with this problem on and off forever.

fixix
I know this is hard, but just remember that it's more likely the biopsy will be benign than cancerous. Also, if it is cancer it's probably a very early stage or precancer. (I know, it's still an UGLY word and diagnosis.)
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I called the surgeons office today and spoke with the nurse. She said the radiology center called the surgeon the day after my mammo and said I really needed to do the biopsy this time. I must say I really enjoyed my two whole days without this stress, thinking it was not cancer. Now I'm right back to worrying. But, I have to keep remembering I was worried for the other 3 biopsies and they were all benign.
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I am very sorry to hear your news. But you are right to try and stay focused on the good results of your past biopsies. Were all of your past procedures the same kind as you will be having for this one? Has it been scheduled yet? If you are like me, you want it done yesterday! Forgive me if I am asking you questions that you have already posted answers to but I get mixed up with all of the responses. As always, you are in my prayers. Keep busy with school (you are a teacher, right? So am I!)
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I got my results today. "No evidence of malignancy". There is still the question of the other cluster but I was in such a fuge state, I'm not quite sure what she said. I think they're not going to do anything about it, but I'm really not sure. I'm making an appointment to speak with my doctor in person. I made her read some of it 3 times because I am so disconnected. I asked her if I was dreaming. This entire situation has been nothing short of unworldly. Your sharing is what kept me going.
I will keep all of you close to me and in my prayers. I will never take this lightly again. God bless you all.
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Just heard today that a fellow teacher has only days or weeks to live after a recurrence of breast cancer. That left me really stressed. When I mentioned it to a good teacher friend she said we're not even going to go there (thinking of mine being cancer) unless it happens. It made me mad at first, but it did make me realize I'm allowing myself to dwell on the possibility that it is cancer way too much. I think I'm helping myself by preparing for the worst but instead I'm just allowing myself to dwell on the negative. (We all need the pitty party, but then we've got to move on!) Instead I need to focus on the fact that it is only "suspicious" and Birad 4 (NOT Birad 5). There's a better chance that it will be benign.That has really helped me today. Hope it helps others, too.

Ziggy - My first biopsy was a lump - papilloma (plugged milk duct). My second was a needle directed biopsy for calcifications. My third in Jan. 06 was a stereotactic for calcifications. My fourth will also be a stereotactic and was rescheduled for Nov. 1. What do you teach? I teach 21 energetic first graders. I get to miss the sugar high on Nov. 1. (Good day to miss school.)

laure113 - So glad to hear your good news. Thanks for letting us know. After a stereotactic they usually have you do a follow-up mammogram in 6 months. Maybe they'll look at your other calcifications then.
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I am not sure I would call what your are going through a pity party. I am not sure what to call it. Maybe you are grieving the unknown which is normal. Nov 1st seems a long time to wait. I guess you could not get them to move it up? I wish you all the best and hope you don't follow the road I have had to travel. Will keep you in my thoughts. Please let us know as soon as you can. The waiting is so dam_ hard.
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I really know the fear you are speaking about and how we have to go on. What choice is there? And yes, Birad 4. That's what I had and this time, I'm okay. It took me until today to relax and smile and even laugh. But, it hasn't left me. I'm still in shock and still not sure any of what I have gone through was real. I'm praying for you, for all of us and always will. Thank you for sharing your feelings.
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