i’m guessing some of you will recognize this word right away and some will wonder what the heck i’m talking about. until last week i was in the latter category. would not have had a clue. it stands for the breast imaging reporting and data system. it’s mentioned on the note that they send you after every mammogram. the categories are extremely well-researched and very defined and specific. well, i never paid it the slightest attention. i would open the notice, see the box that was checked and read exactly 2 words…. “no abnormality” (which is birads 1.) end of story. in the file.
even when i received a birads 0 two weeks ago, meaning that additional views are necessary before a number can be assigned, i ignored the categories. it wasn’t until i was told that i need another follow-up mammogram in 6 months that i took the time to research the categories. turns out that is birads 3. it means that whatever they saw is “probably benign” with less than a 2% chance of malignancy, but needs to be looked at again to be sure it isn’t growing. i found that fairly reassuring after 9 days of anxiety.
the sad thing is that at no time was any of this explained to me. i still have not been told what exactly they did see and i plan to follow up. when i was waiting for results it just felt like a huge black hole of uncertainty. most of the office staff are trained to say nothing and when they do tell you something it is vague at best because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing.
i personally would have found this whole process much easier to deal with had i known all about the categories and what they represented. it’s partly my own fault for not doing the research but it also seems that a lot of information that could be helpful is kept from us. we are left to swim in the sea of uncertainty until we choose to step out of it.
so the bottom line?? arm yourself with information. be your own advocate. ask a lot of questions even if they sound stupid. seek another opinion if necessary. knowledge is power, baby!!
p.s. you know i will never write a post without images..... wasn't sure how to illustrate this one, so i'm just glad it's holloween!! hope it's a happy and safe one for you!!!!!!