It seems that cancer is running rampant any more. As if it’s in the tap water. My paternal grandmother had to have a double mastectomy, so of course that is always in the back of my mind as to what could be in my future. That being said, about two months ago while doing a quick breast self-exam, I noticed something different feeling in my right breast.
At first I thought it was just in my head, because when I first started doing the breast self-exams, I scared myself a few times because I didn’t know what I was feeling for. But this time felt different. This time my heart started racing and I found myself thinking “am I really feeling this? Could this be SOMETHING?” Then I felt the left breast and felt something there. Then I thought for sure it was in my head. I don’t think it would be common to have lumps in both breasts at the same time. So I checked the right one again and definitely felt something. I told my mom and she recommended I make an appointment with my Gyno just to do a quick breast exam. I made an appointment for three weeks away. I kept telling myself it was just in my head, that what I was feeling was probably normal like the times before and this kept my nerves at bay.
The day of the appointment was here. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. The doctor starts her exam and asks where I THINK I feel a lump and I show her. After a few seconds of pushing around on my right breast she looks at me while still pushing and says “I feel what you felt.” My heart dropped and my stomach flipped! That’s not what I expected; I expected her to tell me what I was feeling was normal and that I need to stop scaring myself. So she moved to the left breast, the one I was for sure I didn’t actually feel anything in, that it was all in my head because I thought I felt something on the right breast. And once again she states “I feel it here too.” By this time, I am trying not to freak out, trying not to burst into tears. I think she could see the fear and tears welling up in my eyes because she instantly grabbed my hand and told me not to worry yet. She told me that what she felt didn’t feel super hard like what she usually feels when it is cancerous, but more like something fluid filled or cystic. She told me not to lose sleep over it, yet.
The doctor then gave me an RX/order to get a mammogram and an ultrasound. I was proud of myself for holding everything together until I got in my car, where I had a minor breakdown and sobbed for a few minutes. So many thoughts bombarded my head. I was supposed to start trying to get pregnant in a few months and was horrified that I might not be able to now. I thought of my husband who wants a baby in the worst of ways. And I thought of my mom, who lost my dad in an accident when she was six months pregnant with me. I knew if she had to deal with losing me as well that she would just be devastated. Then my mind went back to my husband who I know loves me dearly and would fall apart if I brought home BAD news like this.
I met up with my mom and grandmother who were at another appointment across town so they could go with me to my first mammogram. I may be a twenty-six-year-old woman, but when it comes to something like this, I want my mommy! The look on her face as I told her was horrified. She tried to hide it but I saw it. Thankfully, the imaging center that I had to go to was just across the street and I didn’t need an appointment. So after the paperwork and insurance forms I was in a gown with my breasts exposed. Have I mentioned I am very modest about my body? Well, I am. The only people that see me naked are my husband and my doctor. So I’m in the room and I can see the machine, which doesn’t look half as scary as I pictured it. After all the horror stories from my mom and grandmother, I guess I was expecting some sort of torture device. The lady that was performing the mammo was very sweet and explained everything very well. I think she too could see the fear in my eyes. I have large breasts and we laughed as we tried to position them on the plate thingy. Before I knew it, the first one was done and we were on to the next. I have to say it wasn’t bad at all. The nice lady said that mammograms are not as invasive as they used to be.
Another person came into the room to look at my results. There was nothing they could see with the naked eye so off to the ultrasound. The ultrasound went by quickly as well. By this point, I have been felt up by three different people and walked around half-naked for about an hour. The lady doing the ultrasound said she couldn’t see anything either but that we have to wait until the radiologists look at them and my mammo before we know anything else. So the waiting game begins. My grandmother, being the loving person she is, took my mom and me out to dinner to take my mind of things. I called my husband and left him a message letting him know the doctor had found lumps and that I had a mammo and that he might beat me home. Oh and most importantly that I would be bringing home leftovers. By the time I got home, he had just stepped out of the shower and came running through the house saying, “Well, well what did they say? Are you ok? How did it go?” All the while hugging and kissing me. I swear you would think he was more freaked out than I was. I told him that we wouldn’t get all the results until tomorrow and that the doctor was supposed to call me. The rest of that evening, my husband made me fall in love with him all over again. With every move he made, and every look he gave me I could feel how much he loved me and how worried he was.
The next day my husband called three times from work asking if the doctor had called yet. He works in construction so it’s not like he can stop and talk on the phone all the time. I kept telling him not to worry and that we would talk when he got home about whatever the doctor had to say. When the phone rang for the fourth time that day, it was the doctor. She started out with “I have good news.” She reminded me of how she mentioned the lumps did not feel hard, like marbles. That turned out to be a good thing. Nothing showed up on the mammogram or the ultrasound and the only explanation for the lumps are that they are just fatty tissue. Possibly because I do have larger breasts. What a relief!
I was told to keep an eye on my breasts for any changes and to keep doing my breast self-exams. This was a terrifying event but one that many women face every day. I was lucky enough to get good news, good results and learned how supportive my family would be if it would have been bad news. So I would like for people to take one thing away from my storey, and that would be to do your self breast exams! My doctor said that 90 percent of women find their own lumps on their breasts. So please do your breast self-exams and talk to your doctor about what feels normal and what is abnormal.
A mammogram at twenty-six—not so bad after all. Now just one every year for the rest of my life. Oh, the joys of being a woman!