Why We’re Screaming: Ellie Burmeister

I have thankfully little experience with cancer.

I had a scare where a lump in my breast went from the size of a grape nut, to a pea, to a nickel.  Due to my age and lack of family history, my insurance of the time wanted to take a wait-and-see approach.  My husband called and screamed he wasn’t going to watch his wife die to save them a buck.  I grabbed the phone from him and apologized, explaining he’s not like this, but we were both scared out of our minds.  The woman said she’d expedite a referral, but my husband should not yell at her since she’s a very old lady.  I thanked her profusely and apologized some more.

The surgeon told me it probably wasn’t cancer and sent me for a mammogram.  The tech was incredibly rude, and told me there was nothing there.  She was being pretty harsh, it felt like Xmas morning to hear that the lump was gone.  I went to follow up with the doctor, and he said “What do you mean the lump is gone?  I can feel it right here.”  I broke down and cried like a baby.

He wanted to give me time to think if I wanted a needle biopsy instead of a lumpectomy to spare my breast the disfiguration.  Screw my perfectly scarless breasts, I wanted to live!  If there was a 15% percent chance for a misdiagnosis, that was 15% too high.

The scheduled me for surgery.  When I woke up he told me he had removed a cluster of five tumors.  That explained the “rapid growth”. It was all benign, just like everyone said it would be.  He wrote in my chart (no doubt for the benefit of my insurance) that he didn’t want to do the biopsy but I was overreacting.

Did I overreact?  Absolutely.  Do I regret it?  Absolutely not.


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