Monday, October 31, 2011


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!!!!!!


  1. what a wonderful post, good for to explain this, I didn't know this and i have had mamograms since I was forty (16 years), thankyou for visiting by the way!! Happy Halloween

  2. I belong into the latter category, no idea what BIRADs were. It doesn't appear on my notifications - I usually get a letter that just tells me that they haven't found anything (I hope it remains like that). I hate this limbo land, and fortunately I haven't travelled to this land yet (and hope I never will) - I was always fortunate enough to have doctors and medical people who explained everything to me.
    I'm glad that what they found is "probably benign", but it still keeps you coming back - I hope it doesn't grow. I'm sorry that I haven't been here the past few days - I just read the previous post - I hope this will be better in the future. Take good care, my friend.

  3. All new information for me, Patty! I agree, we are kept in the dark and we do need to ask, ask, ask, and be our own advocates. Actually, in Canada, I have never been given a piece of paper, so I wouldn't have a clue that BIRAD's even exist. I haven't had a mamogram here yet, so it will be interesting. Happy your mind is a little more at rest. It's so great you are claiming your power. Thanks for the gorgeous fall (Halloween) images ... I had to go back and look at them I was so caught up in the text. Take care. xxDonna

  4. i agree Patty we absolutely must take back our power when it comes to our health and the ones we love...there are lots of good doctors out there...just have to go thru a few to get to the good ones that will take the time to answer all our questions!!

  5. dearest Patty-I haven't visited here in a while-so just catching up on all of your posts. first of there ANYTHING I can do for you??? A cup of tea, a chat, lunch?? that's really crappy isn't it?? when you can't get clear answers??? I am so glad you went for you mammogram and...I think you are doing all of the right things...getting information, reading, talking about it, reaching out...all this helps. Call me if you would like to chat. Okay. XXX

  6. regards to your friendships post..I totally agree with you. If someone can't handle you needing down time...well then it's just not worth your time. It really doesn't take much effort to keep in contact with people now with technology so if someone can't/won't make the effort then...


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