A few days ago, I went for my annual Gyno exam. This is the appointment that I dread. As much as I like my gynecologist, who is one of the nicest doctors that I have ever had, I fear this appointment. I always have the ‘what if’ mentality when it comes to this appointment. What if my doctor finds a breast lump? What if they find cancerous cells in my pap smear? What if there is a cyst in my ovary? Too many ‘what if’s’ going through my mind. The other day … my what if question turned into “What could the lump be?”
During the breast exam, my doctor found a lump on my right breast. I asked the doctor “Could it be cancer?” My doctor said, “I am not worried about it. It feels more like a cyst. I’ll order you an ultrasound just to make sure.” She felt my anxiety intensify and just told me to make sure that I get the ultrasound done as soon as possible just to rule out that the lump can be anything else. At the end of my exam, my doctor then handed me an ultrasound order with a picture of a breast with a circle, indicating where the lump was and that it measured 1.5 cm. I called the diagnostic center and made my appointment. To my disappointment, the next appointment was on Tuesday at 2 p.m. It was only Friday. I knew the entire weekend I was going to worry incessantly about this lump.
I then preceded to Google everything that I could find about breast lumps and breast cancer. I am thirty-three years old. My sister died from cancer at thirty-three, so I was not taking any chances. Cancer can affect any age. It does not discriminate. I wanted to educate myself and be prepared for anything. However, in the process of educating myself, I was only adding to my fear. I started thinking about how if it was cancer, how would this affect my life? My husband and I are trying to have children. Would I be able to have kids? How would I tell my mom? I don’t want her to go through another daughter having cancer and fear she would lose me too. So many thoughts ran through my mind. So many scary thoughts.
Through my research, I found many positive posts. I read that 80 percent of breast lumps that are found are benign, which means that they are not cancer. However, it is important to check out any changes in your breast tissue. I also read that your breasts go through various changes and a benign lump can be a cyst, which is a fluid filled sac, a fibradenoma, an intraductal papilloma, traumatic fat necrosis, or a potential breast infection.
On Tuesday, I went for the Ultrasound. I asked the tech how long it would take to get the results. She said I would get the results that day. As I lay on the exam bed, the nice tech applied the gel on my breast and started moving the wand in the area where the doctor found the lump. She asked me if I could feel the lump. I told her that I tried to find it in the shower, but was not successful. I told her that my breast did feel sore, but I said I am on my menstrual period. The tech then told me that she could not find anything or see anything on the screen. She said that my breast tissue was dense. She continued to move the wand around to continue to try to find anything, and still did not locate any lump. She said, because my breast tissue is dense, it could be that the doctor may have felt what she thought was a lump, which was not. Not convinced, I asked her if she could send the radiologist in to speak with me just to verify what was on the test. When the radiologist came in, she confirmed what the tech has said. They did not see anything on the ultrasound that was suspicious. She did not see anything at all.
I wanted to cry tears of joy. I felt so fortunate that nothing was found. I felt so thankful, so happy, and so lucky. I have learned a lot during this experience. It is important to be aware of any breast changes, and to be proactive about checking yourself every month, being aware of any changes to your breasts, and making sure that you follow up on any recommended tests by your doctor. I have read many brave stories of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Women of all ages, even in their early twenties. I admire the strength, courage, and determination that these women possess. I pray and hope that a cure is found.
And I wanted to say one more thing. Life is too short. You never know what lies ahead. Appreciate the family and friends that you have and cherish every day and moment. I believe the scariest and toughest moments in life can make you stronger, and also make you realize that you need to live each day to your fullest. Do not stay angry, hold grudges, or live in regret. Make the most of your life while you are here.