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Killer Breasts

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Oh boy, I am just remembering the first two little bumps on my chest in my eleventh year of life. What an exciting time when Mom went shopping one day in the big city and brought home my first bra. There had never been one word between us about bras, breasts, or the emerging womanhood THING.

She just handed that wonderful grownup thing to me and off I shot into the future. There was no mention of sizing or comfort. I think it was a 32A and I probably wore that sucker for a couple years.  Mom must have realized I was pooching out of that little cotton bra and upped the size a little bit the next time she bought me one.

You have to realize this was in the fifties and both of my folks had been brought up in old-fashioned homes, or shameful, or dumb, whatever you would you call it. Nothing personal was even talked about between boys or girls and parents, which is irrelevant though, because all of us kids then were about the same.

Comparing it to nowadays, we were living in the dark ages.

Throughout high school I was a pretty dowdy dresser, either Mom bought them for me or I made my clothes. I had a best friend that had the twiggy figure and after a while she talked to me about pretty clothes, not just necessity.

She wore pretty colored, lacy, under-wired bras. She always looked perky and perfect. I was still wearing the cotton plain bra that squished me.

Finally after I got out of high school I started to be a little more aware of the outside world and how you could look better. I got to go to stores to compare clothes.

Well, after I got married, and could get what fit me finally, I wore pretty things, and I was a pretty cute gal as I look back at my pictures. I have a picture of me holding my first son and I had on a rather low cut dress and I guess you could say I had pretty KILLER BREASTS.

Yes, breasts are pretty and the boys like them, but they are also wonderful for what they are put on you for and that is to nurse your babies.

When I had my children, there was no question that I would or would not use them to feed my babies. I didn’t even buy bottles. Well, first of all we were too poor. My dad had to help us pay for the first child’s hospital bill, God Bless him. Who knew what family planning was?

By the way it didn’t cost thousands of dollars to raise a child then, yes, times have changed. I had always heard too, that nursing your babies helped you from ever getting cancer of the breast, another misnomer.

After many years of life and three babies later, life was going along so smoothly; my husband and I were retired after working hard and being frugal. We took a long-awaited, and very well earned trip to visit one of our sons in California. We had planned to stay a few weeks and see what warm weather was like. We had lived in Montana all our lives.

Just before we left, we had had to put some new roofing on our house and we did it alone, it was hard and we were a little bruised and sore but happy to be done. One morning, of the week we were to leave on the trip, I was bathing and as I washed my left armpit I felt a lump in toward my breast.

I visited the local walk- in mammogram clinic. I had been there for a mammogram the year before and the doctor did not even take time for a new one. The doctor on call told me I just had an infection and had probably bumped myself during our recent roofing project and sent me home with an antibiotic. We proceeded on with our trip and got to my son’s house. After the antibiotic didn’t do any good I knew I had to consult another doctor. Yes, there was cancer; after a short period of testing I went through ALL THE SURGERY, TREATMENTS, and TRAUMA over about a nine-month period. I finally got a clean bill of health and enjoyed the next ten years.

Oh boy, HERE IT IS TEN YEARS LATER. I went in for my yearly mammogram. My favorite technician Liz did my breast exam and explained to me she had a new machine that had quite a bit stronger magnification. All seemed to look good to the naked eye.

It just happened I was in the process of buying a new used car that day and at the car dealership I got a call from my husband. He said the hospital had called and wanted to redo my mammogram and also do an ultrasound test on my right breast. I had cancer in the left one the last time.

Here I start to worry. All the things that I had feared for ten years were coming at me like a racing freight train. First of all I had never been called back for a redo of a mammogram.

The Dr. that read my ultrasound sent back a report that there was a little cyst or something that looked more benign than cancerous. Well, just to make sure they wanted to do an MRI.

THAT was very interesting. I was put on a table face down like a massage table with my breasts through two holes hanging down. I had to have my arms out in front of me and I was in the FLYING SUPERMAN POSITION FOR forty-five MINUTES.  Not fun, but tolerable.

A few days later they let me know that they now wanted to do an ultrasound guided biopsy. This was because it was so small and could not be felt by hand yet or defined by MRI.

This was to be a simple forty-five minutes test. This was a bit painful, but had anesthetic injected first and then a long hollow needle that grabbed samples of the suspected tissue. At this point the Dr. nicked an artery and three people put very painful hard pressure on the artery to stop the bleeding for a little over an hour. My poor daughter was waiting for me in the waiting room and this turned into a long process. They finally bandaged me and sent me to my surgeon for evaluation. The bleeding had stopped somewhat so he just sent me home to recuperate. This procedure had left me with a huge plum sized hematoma in my breast.

In another few days the results did come back and it was CANCER AGAIN.  Only this time it was very small. Now I had to make the decisions again of what to do and how to treat it. It didn’t take me long to do that.

In the last ten years I had heard of and I have known several people that had breast cancer and it has spread to their stomach, bones, and brains. That is what breast cancer does, especially if it gets into the Lymph system.

I made up my mind ten years ago that if it came back again I would not put my family or myself through the Chemo and radiation thing. This would take several months and I had been very sick with Chemo and burned very badly from radiation therapy.

I decided on a bilateral mastectomy. A simple one for the left breast, which I had already had the lymph nodes out, and a radical for the right breast that would remove what lymph nodes they could find and check for cancer. That is what determines the treatment.

At this point the words KILLER BREASTS CAME BACK TO ME, in the literal way, and not the cute and sexy way. I am sixty-nine years old and very healthy. What if I had opted for just a lumpectomy and this had come back in another ten years. I may not be as strong then to go through all this. I also wanted to eliminate the worry for my family and me.

It is now just three weeks yesterday since my surgery and I really did well, not much pain and healing well. I did get a little infection that the doctor prescribed an antibiotic very quickly. I am feeling better from that and I am having some discomfort from fluid buildup under the incisions. With no lymph nodes to take care of that it takes quite a while to dissipate. This can take quite a while; one friend said, “Be patient, it can take several months, depending on how active you are.” Also she had not had the fluid buildup like I did and it took her about a year to be really comfortable.

They talk about the physical and mental things you go through, but I am very contented with my decision and hope to be feeling fine and back to my normal strength soon. By the way I have a wonderful husband of fifty years this July 2012 that has been my support and stood by me throughout the whole experience and still loves me, God Bless him!

Who would have ever thought at eighteen those KILLER BREASTS COULD ACTUALLY KILL?

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