You’ve Been Served…An Abnormal Mammogram Report

Four days after a routine mammogram, I received a form letter from Kaiser Permanente’s radiology department. The first sentence, I kid you not, was:

Your recent mammogram revealed an area that we believe is benign.

The automated letter (distinguished by the Oreo-cookie pattern of vertical lines just above my name and address) went on to say that “this type of finding is relatively common and occurs in up to 10 percent of mammograms.” I suppose they could have told me what the “finding” was and perhaps even on which breast and exactly where the “finding” had been seen (even UFO sightings are more specific), but that would negate the convenience of the form letter. Being a writer, I’m a stickler for detail, and resented them telling me that something (an area…a finding…an alien space ship?) was “relatively common” when by their own definition 90% of the mammograms they perform do not yield a result like mine.

The letter recommended I have a follow-up imaging evaluation in six months and told me in bold type that this (letter…test result…extra terrestrial?) shouldn’t be overly alarming since the “vast majority” of these exams ended up being normal.

I’m not panicked. Just a little pissed off at their bedside manner. After all, I believed their cool commercials and rebranding efforts. Seriously, the video imbedded here…awesome. Their multi-year Thrive marketing campaign led me to believe that health care could be, well, personal.

All this to say that form letter #Mammo-6-988 reminded me that I am just a number to Kaiser, and I refuse to be lulled to inaction by the soothing voice of Allison Janney in the Kaiser commercials saying, “may you live long and thrive” (a catch phrase sounding oddly similar to Star Trek’s Live Long and Prosper). As for the mammogram, I’ve already contacted my primary physician for more details, and I will decide how to proceed based on the information I get from her. But one thing is certain, I will never stop being the greatest advocate for my own health—clever Kaiser commercials and automated letters be damned.